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Under Siege

Under Siege

2022-05-2801:08:04

For episode 16 of Unclear and Present Danger, Jamelle and John discuss “Under Siege,” 1992 action thriller directed by Andrew Davis and starring Steven Seagal in what is clearly his best role. We talk about Seagal’s career, Hollywood’s view of the American military in this era of filmmaking, and the strange, almost left-wing politics of this movie in particular. Jamelle also attempts a bad impression of Seagal. It’s a good time.“Under Siege” is available for rent on Amazon and iTunes.Our logo, as always, is courtesy of the great Rachel Eck, who you can find on Instagram.Contact us!Follow us on Twitter!John GanzJamelle BouieLinks from the episode!New York Times frontpage for October 9, 1992Steven Seagal’s infamously unwatchable appearance on Saturday Night Live.Scene in “Austin Powers” where Austin learns the Cold War is over.
On episode 15 of Unclear and Present Danger, Jamelle and John are joined by Mike Duncan (Revolutions podcast, “Hero of Two Worlds: The Marquis de Lafayette in the Age of Revolution”) to discuss the delightful 1992 thriller Sneakers. It’s a movie about a tech mogul who hopes to stage an information revolution and, not surprisingly, John, Jamelle and Mike discuss the internet, social revolutions, and the challenge of building something out of nothing.Our logo, as always, is courtesy of the great Rachel Eck, who you can find on Instagram.Contact us!Follow us on Twitter!John GanzJamelle BouieMike DuncanLinks from the episode!New York Times front-page for September 11, 1992Sneakers Computer Press Kit“Marxism and Politics” by Ralph Miliband
JFK (feat. Alexis Coe)

JFK (feat. Alexis Coe)

2022-04-3001:21:551

It’s episode 14 of Unclear and Present Danger and we’re talking Oliver Stone’s ridiculous yet incredibly-compelling conspiracy thriller, JFK. Jamelle and John are joined by the historian Alexis Coe to discuss the film, as well as the real John F. Kennedy, his life and legacy. This is a long and fruitful conversation, that covers everything from the Boomer wish-fulfillment which animates the movie to the political consequences of conspiracy-thinking.Once again, our new logo is courtesy of the great Rachel Eck! You can find her on Instagram.Contact us!Follow us on Twitter!John GanzJamelle BouieAlexis CoeLinks from the episode!New York Times front-page for December 20, 1991Oliver Stone’s New York Times op-ed defending the film.Miller Center of Public Affairs page on the Kennedy presidency.Politico Magazine on John F. Kennedy and Margaret CoitOnce Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath by Mimi Alford
Is a Star Trek movie a political and military thriller? We think so! Which is why, for this thirteenth episode of Unclear and Present Danger, Jamelle and John (and their guest, Sam Adler-Bell of the “Know Your Enemy” podcast) discussed Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. They talked about the nature of Star Trek’s utopianism, questioned whether the Federation is actually a good thing, and gave a close reading of the film’s Cold War allegory.Our new logo is courtesy of the great Rachel Eck! You can find her on Instagram.Contact us!Follow us on Twitter!John GanzJamelle BouieSam Adler-BellLinks from the episode!New York Times front-page for December 6, 1991IMDB page for Nicholas MeyerThe Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years
Company Business

Company Business

2022-04-0101:15:11

On episode 12 of Unclear and Present and Danger, Jamelle and John talk about, and puzzle over, the 1991 action comedy (comedic thriller?) “Company Business.” They have an extended discussion of Gene Hackman’s career, talk Mikhail Gorbachev and the collapse of the Soviet Union, and think about the surge of populism that struck American politics in the early 1990s.Our new logo is courtesy of the great Rachel Eck! You can find her on Instagram.Contact us!Follow us on Twitter!John GanzJamelle BouieLinks from the episode!New York Times front-page for September 6, 1991Martin Chilton’s 2020 profile of Gene Hackman“Collapse: The Fall of the Soviet Union” by Vladislav M. Zubok
On this 11th episode of Unclear and Present Danger, Jamelle and John are joined by the journalist and author Jonathan Katz to talk John Milius' 1991 Vietnam drama, “Flight of the Intruder.” Among many other things, they talk Milius' work and career, the place of Vietnam in American’s historical memory, the political impact of the Gulf War, and the search for meaning through conflict.Our logo is courtesy of the great Rachel Eck! You can find her on Instagram.Contact us!Follow us on Twitter!John GanzJamelle BouieJonathan KatzLinks from the episode!New York Times front-page for January 18, 1991Roger Ebert’s reviewThe American Conservative on John Milius
Going Under

Going Under

2022-03-0401:05:21

In this tenth episode of Unclear and Present Danger, Jamelle and John talk a little about this week’s movie, the 1991 submarine farce “Going Under,” but devote most of the episode to discussing the war in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin’s regime in Russia, and the way the world has underestimated the power of democracy.Also, you might notice that we have a new logo. That is courtesy of the great Rachel Eck! You can find her on Instagram.Contact us!Follow us on Twitter!John GanzJamelle BouieLinks from the episode!New York Times for Friday, August 23, 1991A comprehensive explainer of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at Jewish Currents magazine.Wikipedia entry for the French Revolutionary ArmyWikipedia entry for the United States Colored Troops
The Russia House

The Russia House

2022-02-1901:06:00

On this week’s episode of Unclear and Present Danger, Jamelle and John talk the 1990 John Le Carré adaptation “The Russia House,” starring Sean Connery and Michelle Pfeiffer. They discuss the social base for intelligence work during the Cold War, the period of glasnost and perestroika in the Soviet Union, the politics of nostalgia and the film’s excellent wardrobe. You can rent “The Russia House” on iTunes or on Amazon.Also, you might notice that we have a new logo. That is courtesy of the great Rachel Eck! You can find her on Instagram.Contact us!Follow us on Twitter!John GanzJamelle BouieLinks from the episode!The New York Times for December 25, 1990Wikipedia article for glasnost and perestroikaJohn D. Skrentny’s “The Minority Rights Revolution” on the impact of the Cold War on liberal reforms in the United States.
Hidden Agenda

Hidden Agenda

2022-02-0401:06:01

In this week’s episode of Unclear and Present Danger, Jamelle and John tackle yet another movie about the Troubles, the 1990 film “Hidden Agenda.” This one, however, is more concerned with British politics than the well-being of the Irish people. They discuss Margaret Thatcher, talk a little about colonialism and the intra-European origins of racism, and complain about the dearth of well-made political thrillers. You can watch “Hidden Agenda” for free on Tubi.Contact us!Follow us on Twitter!John GanzJamelle BouieLinks from the episode!The New York Times for Wednesday November 21, 1990.Cedric Robinson’s “Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition”Alan J. Pakula’s 1974 film “The Parallax View.”
By Dawn’s Early Light

By Dawn’s Early Light

2022-01-2201:01:50

In this episode of Unclear and Present Danger, Jamelle and John discuss the 1990 made-for-TV movie “By Dawn’s Early Light.” Their conversation centers on the politics of nuclear weapons, what they mean for constitutional democracy, and how fear of nuclear weapons has been a potent political tool since the end of the Second World War.“By Dawn’s Early Light” is available to stream for free on Amazon and YouTube, and is available for rent on iTunes.Contact us!Follow us on Twitter!John GanzJamelle BouieLinks from the episode!New York Times frontpage for Saturday May 19, 1990.Trailer for “The Day After”Trailer for “Threads”
The Fourth War

The Fourth War

2022-01-0701:04:11

In the sixth episode of Unclear and Present Danger, John and Jamelle discuss “The Fourth War,” a late-period John Frankenheimer film about two crusty bastards who almost start the third world war over a personal grudge match. It looks like a TV movie and it’s not that interesting, but it was good fodder for a fruitful and fascinating conversation. Jamelle brings some 19th century American political history to the table, and John uses Francis Fukuyama’s “The End of History” to get at some of the ideas in the film.Contact us!Follow us on Twitter!John GanzJamelle BouieLinks from the episode!New York Times front page for Friday, March 23, 1990Janet Maslin’s New York Times reviewRoger Ebert’s Chicago Sun-Times review“The End of History?” by Francis Fukuyama, published in the Summer 1989 edition of The National Interest.A book worth reading: The Slave Power: The Free North and Southern Domination, 1780–1860
The Package

The Package

2021-12-2459:20

In this week’s episode, Jamelle and John talk “The Package,” the 1989 conspiracy thriller from Andrew Davis, and the first of many Andrew Davis movies to come on this podcast. They talk class tensions within the military, the age-old American fear of standing armies and military bureaucracies, the anti-politics inherent in conspiracy theorizing, the role of ideology in shaping the actions of key actors, and how the shadow of the JFK assassination hangs over this movie.Contact us!Follow us on Twitter!John GanzJamelle BouieLinks from the episode!The New York Times frontpage for August 25, 1989.An information page for the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.The Wikipedia entry for “The Day of the Jackal.”The Wikipedia entry for “The Manchurian Candidate.”A little background on Nazis in the Chicago area.
No Way Out

No Way Out

2021-12-1001:03:30

On this week's episode, Jamelle and John discuss the strange, surprisingly sleazy 1987 thriller No Way Out, starring Kevin Costner, Gene Hackman and Sean Young. Topics of discussion include Costner's strikingly bland persona, the contradictions within Reaganite conservatism, the futile quest for national unity, and the late 1980s as the last hurrah for the idea of the carefree white man. Contact us!Follow us on Twitter!John GanzJamelle BouieLinks from the episode!New York Times front page for August 14, 1987New York Times reviewTrailer for The Big ClockBob Dole's Washington Post obituary
Clear and Present Danger

Clear and Present Danger

2021-11-2601:16:19

In this week’s episode of Unclear and Present Danger, Jamelle and John discuss the show’s namesake, “Clear and Present Danger,” the third and final “Jack Ryan” movie of the 1990s, whose politics are one part arch-cynicism about American foreign policy and one part naive liberal optimism about the integrity of the national security bureaucracy. Other topics include the film’s connection to the Iran-Contra scandal, the way that it touches on American memory of the Vietnam War, the fantasy of unlimited American power that animates this and other movies in the Tom Clancy oeuvre and, of course, Harrison Ford.Contact us!Follow us on Twitter!John GanzJamelle BouieLinks from the episode!New York Times frontpage for August 3, 1994The Tom Clancy Companion1994 Entertainment Weekly feature on “Clear and Present Danger”
In this week’s episode of Unclear and Present Danger, Jamelle and John are joined by Will Rahn of Yahoo News to talk “Patriot Games,” the second Jack Ryan movie of the 1990s and the first to star Harrison Ford. They discuss Ross Perot and the 1992 presidential election, Irish nationalism (and Irish bars), the film’s unambiguously pro-C.I.A politics, WASP triumphalism and the politics of George H.W. Bush.Contact us!Follow us on Twitter!John GanzJamelle BouieLinks from the episode!New York Times for June 6, 1992Janet Maslin’s New York times reviewRoger Ebert’s review
This is the first episode of Unclear and Present Danger, a new podcast by Jamelle Bouie of the New York Times and John Ganz, a freelance journalist writing a book on American politics in the 1990s. It is a podcast about the political thrillers of that decade, and what they said — or did not say — about the United States in the last years and immediate aftermath of the Cold War. We’re going to cover a wide range of movies, but we thought we would begin with a paradigmatic example of the genre, John McTiernan’s The Hunt for Red October, based on the best-selling Tom Clancy novel.A quick correction: In the episode, Jamelle said that McTiernan went to jail for tax evasion. This was incorrect. He actually went to prison for lying to the FBI.
Comments (2)

John J Edmund

This movie is too Cynical for you guys? For a podcast with a pretty cynical title itself, I can only logically assume your hatred of Kevin Costner has clouded your logical reasoning. RIP Fred Thompson

Apr 8th
Reply

Todd Tucker

Great podcast, and a cool format, situating movies within news of the day.

Nov 28th
Reply
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