I’ve known about This is Not a Test for a long time. It’s in the public domain, so it was one of the first films I uploaded to my YouTube channel when I started setting it up. But even then I had never actually sat down to watch it. Today, I decided to give it a try, and was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it.
The film starts when a solo patrol officer gets a radio call instructing him to set up a roadblock on a rural highway. Soon, several cars and a delivery truck have gathered, with folks demanding to know what’s going on.
Those questions are answered when a call comes through the radio – “Situation 1310 – Condition Red – Air Raid Warning – This is Not a Test.”
What appeared to be an “in the middle of nowhere” location turns out to be in the middle of three potential military targets, and with no time to run, the group is forced to do what they can to convert the delivery truck into a bomb shelter where they’ll have to remain for two weeks.
I’m sure that plan sounds as ridiculous to you as it does to me, but the group doesn’t have much choice, so they set to it. I’ll let you watch the movie yourself to see how well that turns out.
I found it interesting how most of the characters were so well versed in the effects of a nuclear attack, discussing the flash, heat, and radioactive fallout that they’ll be facing. In the early 60s, “the bomb” was much more in the forefront of people’s minds as the threat of nuclear attack was an actual constant fear back then.
The movie is not perfect by any means; it gets slow in the middle, and there are unresolved sub-plots that don’t seem to serve any purpose other than adding a little drama and padding the length of the film.
But, as I’ve said a hundred times before, I’m primarily a fan of nuclear war fiction, and This is Not a Test fits the bill, so I would consider it not necessarily essential viewing, but definitely recommended if you want to be able to say you’ve seen them all.