Stream On: Sometimes they get the future right

By on January 21, 2021

These firemen of the future start fires. And they fuel them with books. (Universal/Comcast)

There are examples of prescient movies about the future which Nostradamus might envy. Some, like Fahrenheit 451, are set in a future in which troubling notions about human behavior take purchase, such as routine censorship of public life and thought. Others, like The Anderson Tapes, take place in the present, but explore emerging trends such as mass societal surveillance.

FAHRENHEIT 451 [AllMovie.com] [Trailer]

(Amazon.com; Vudu, Fandango Now) 1966

Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which book paper catches fire and starts to burn.” Ray Bradbury’s 1953 book, written partly in response to Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy’s witch hunt for Communists under America’s beds, rightly worried about public censorship of thought and expression. Today the perceived threat is coming from [private companies], but the chill is still there.

French film director François Truffaut’s 1966 adaptation received mostly critical reviews, but has grown in stature to where it currently holds an 81% positive rating on [Rotten Tomatoes]. Apparently the subject matter beggared serious belief in 1965 (an attitude shared by the film’s [trailer]), and so contemporary critics may have considered it merely a fantasy film. We know better now, or we should.

Fahrenheit 451 begins à la mode as the credits are read by a voiceover; no words appear on the screen. The colorful art direction reminds one of [The Prisoner], not the dreary dystopian view of later Hollywood futurist films.

We see firemen on a call to a private residence—which is not on fire. When their search turns up a copy of Don Quixote (regarded by some as the first novel), we see their purpose. They are there to collect any books they find and burn them. (One stash of books is found inside a fake television.)

“In the future, a totalitarian government employs a force known as Firemen to seek out and destroy all literature. They have the power to search anyone, anywhere, at any time, and burn any books they find. One of the firemen, Guy Montag (Oskar Werner, The Spy Who Came In from the Cold), meets one of his neighbours, Clarisse (Julie Christie, Dr. Zhivago), a young schoolteacher who may be fired due to her unorthodox views. The two have a discussion about his job, where she asks whether he ever reads the books he burns. Curious, he begins to hide books in his house and read them, starting with Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield. This leads to conflict with his wife, Linda (also Christie), who is more concerned with being popular enough to be a member of ‘The Family,’ an interactive television program that refers to its viewers as ‘cousins’” (Wikipedia). Fahrenheit 451 is a bit of a sermon, but entertaining and insightful enough to pay attention to.

Duke Anderson, at left, is trying to finance the heist of an upscale apartment building. Everyone he’s talked to is being surveilled for other reasons—will that put the kibosh on his plans? (IMDb.com)

THE ANDERSON TAPES [AllMovie.com] [Trailer]

(Amazon.com; Prime Video; elsewhere) 1971

For its swinging ’60’s art direction, Fahrenheit 451 is pretty dour. Not so 1971’s The Anderson Tapes, directed by Sidney Lumet (Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico) from Lawrence Sanders’ Edgar Award-winning 1970 novel, which captures a gritty, no-nonsense 1970’s New York City already on the rebound from the previous decade. The mood is darkly comic and ironic; the movie begins in a prison where Duke Anderson (Sean Connery) and other prisoners are enduring a counseling session before Duke is to be freed after 10 years. On the way out, he meets up with two other inmates due for release, “Pop” Meyerhoff (Stan Gottlieb), who’s been inside since 1931, and is not thrilled to be out, and “the Kid” (Christopher Walken, in his big-screen feature debut). They part ways and Duke visits a bank to open an account.

We follow Duke from the bank to his girlfriend’s apartment through various point-of-view shots; in the alley next to the apartment he realizes that now cameras are everywhere. There’s one in the elevator to her very upscale flat (paid for by a sugar daddy—who has private detectives listening to her through a bug in her phone jack). After some quality time with his girlfriend (Dyan Cannon), his thoughts turn to his one true love, and he decides to rob her apartment building. Looking for backing from mobster Pat Angelo (Alan King), Duke is caught on tape by the Treasury Department, surveilling Angelo. On the cold end of the mic, an informant is saying “They call him Duke Anderson; he’s a Limey. He was just tellin’ these guys…” before being cut off by an agent: “We don’t care about him!”

Duke’s subsequent heist, which includes Pop, the Kid, and other old associates, and faces myriad challenges, is meticulously planned and executed—and recorded and documented by a dozen agencies who are tracking everyone, but who aren’t speaking to one another, and not interested in Duke. Will he slip through the net?

Next time, Nothing like a puppet to give you the willies.

(Pete Hummers is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to earn fees by linking Amazon.com and affiliate sites. This adds nothing to Amazon’s prices.)

Click here for more Stream On: What to watch on TV columns by Pete Hummers.


Barnhill Building Group has been selected as the Construction Manager @ Risk by the College of the Albemarle and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade contractors to submit bids for the furnishing labor, materials, equipment, and tools for the new College of The Albemarle – Allied Health Sciences Simulation Lab (COA Health Sciences) located in Elizabeth City, NC. Please note: Only subcontractors who have been prequalified by Barnhill will be able to submit a Bid.

The project consists of the new construction of a 38,000-sf, 2-story expansion to the existing Owens Health Sciences Center and will house classrooms, labs, and a simulation lab. The site is just over just over 4.5 acres and is located on an active campus. This new construction will be a steel structure with a brick and metal panel veneer, curtainwall, and storefront glazing with a PVC roof membrane.

Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages:

BP0100: General Trades

BP0105: Final Cleaning

BP0390: Turnkey Concrete

BP0400: Turnkey Masonry

BP0500: Structural Steel & Misc. Steel

BP0740: Roofing

BP0750: Metal Panels

BP0790: Caulking / Caulking

BP0800: Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware

BP0840: Glass & Glazing

BP0925: Drywall

BP0960: Resilient Flooring

BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

BP0990: Painting & Wallcovering

BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

BP1010: Signage

BP1098: Demountable Partitions

BP1230: Finish Carpentry and Casework

BP1250: Window Treatment

BP1400: Elevators

BP2100: Fire Protection

BP2200: Plumbing

BP2300: HVAC

BP2600: Turnkey Electrical

BP3100: Turnkey Sitework

BP3290: Landscaping

Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business firms are encouraged to complete participation submittals.

HUB/MWBE OUTREACH MEETING: Barnhill Building Group will be conducting a HUB/MWBE Informational Session. You are encouraged to attend the following session to learn more about project participation opportunities available to you. These seminars will help to: Learn about project and scope; Inform and train Minority/HUB contractors in preparation for bidding this project; Assist in registration on the State of North Carolina Vendor link; Stimulate opportunities for Networking with other firms. Location and time TBD. Please visit our planroom at https://app.buildingconnected.com/public/54da832ce3edb5050017438b for more information.

Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals, by July 22, 2024, to Meredith Terrell at mterrell@barnhillcontracting.com or hardcopies can be mailed to Barnhill Contracting Company PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612).


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