Film: “Command and Control”

from Joseph Gerson, American Friends Service Committee
     I am writing to urge you to see and to promote the new film, “Command and Control” which will be released across the country in the coming weeks. The 90-minute documentary thriller focuses on the 1980 nuclear armed Titan II missile accident in Damascus, Arkansas, which threatened death and destruction across much of the Midwest.  With references to other nuclear weapons accidents, the film provides a wakeup call to the little discussed mortal dangers that U.S. nuclear accidents pose to the U.S. (and other) people.

film trailer

 The film was co-produced and co-written by Eric Schlosser, author of the book Command and Control and Robert Kenner, who has two Academy Award nominations and two Emmys under his belt. 

     Watching the film, I was reminded of Schlosser’s testimonies at the Nayarit and Vienna International Conferences on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons, which left me and others profoundly shaken.  I also found myself thinking that one of the best things a number of us may have done, lo these many years ago, may have been our roles in preventing Boston, New York and San Francisco harbors from being transformed into nuclear weapons bases.

       While the promotional material that follows here has been developed for a mass audience, I found the interviews with those responsible for the 1980 accident  and those who sacrificed their lives in the futile effort to prevent it uterrly compelling. And, if nothing else in the film sobers you, the Pauline conversions of former Sandia Lab officials, and former Secretary of Defense Brown’s testimony that “accidents were not unusual in the defense department…there must have been several every day” certainly will. Not that Brown was terribly concerned!

   A schedule of the film showings and the press kit material with url links follows below, and the film is slated to be shown on PBS, though we don’t have those dates yet.

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Question related to this article:

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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     In addition to encouraging people to see the film, ticket lines will be great places for leafletting. And, when the film is shown on PBS, we can organize house parties to views and discuss the film and to launch activities, from pressing to end spending for the new generation of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, to getting signatures on the Hibakusha petition, and planning steps to win Don’t Bank on the Bomb resolutions.

   One final note:  The film does not explicitly advocate nuclear weapons abolition. That said, given Schlosser’s closing remarks that every machine that has ever been made breaks down, working for abolition is the logical conclusion that almost everyone should take from the film.

     See the film, and remember Joe Hill’s final words: “Don’t mourn. Organize!”
Press Kit:

Photos, synopsis and trailer are available for download here


Find an updates list of theatrical, festival and impact screenings here
Cities include: New York, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, San Diego


A chilling nightmare plays out at a Titan II missile complex in Arkansas in September, 1980. A worker accidentally drops a socket, puncturing the fuel tank of an intercontinental ballistic missile carrying the most powerful nuclear warhead in our arsenal, an incident which ignites a series of feverish efforts to avoid a deadly disaster. Directed by Robert Kenner (FOOD, INC.) and based on the critically acclaimed book by Eric Schlosser (FAST FOOD NATION), COMMAND AND CONTROL is a minute-by-minute account of this long-hidden story. Putting a camera where there was no camera that night, Kenner brings this nonfiction thriller to life with stunning original footage shot in a decommissioned Titan II missile silo. Eyewitness accounts — from the man who dropped the socket, to the man who designed the warhead, to the Secretary of Defense— chronicle nine hours of terror that prevented an explosion 600 times more powerful than Hiroshima.