11.14.2011 0

Former Presidential Appointee Don Todd looks at differences in two ‘Red Dawn’ films

By Frank McCaffrey — In 1984, President Ronald Reagan was up for re-election in America. It seemed that his message was catching on and a significant part of this message was anti-Communist. America was in the “Cold War” at the time and its competition with the massive Soviet Union was one of the top topics of discussion in political circles.

Hollywood had been a left-leaning arena for years. Reagan’s anti-Communist message went against the grain of what the film industry usually leaned towards.

That year saw the release of a project that was unusual for the business, a movie that appealed to the conservatives in America. This may seem even more unusual when one takes into consideration that it was an election year.

Writer/Director John Milius sat at the helm of a production known as “Red Dawn.” Milius tended to enjoy creating a little controversy. It starred a young actor named Patrick Swayze and portrayed residents of an American Midwestern town at the dawn of World War III defending themselves from invading Soviet forces. It grossed a whopping $36 million at the box office.

“‘Red Dawn’ was a low budget movie but it was a fun movie,” says Don Todd, a former Presidential appointee with the U.S. Department of Labor. Todd has been involved in American politics for decades and has seen foreign policy unfold.

“It caught a lot of people’s attention because it was different. It was a risky enterprise,” he says.

Though it predictably received poor reviews and did not do anyone involved any political favors in Tinseltown, its star managed to go on to a successful career.  Patrick Swayze later landed major roles in films such as “Dirty Dancing” and “Ghost.” He became one of Hollywood’s top leading men. Todd says one of the main reasons Swayze survived “Red Dawn” was because the movie made a great deal of money. Remember, in the end, it’s all about the bottom line.

Film fan Aimee Dumont-Keene says there’s another very important reason Swayze’s career survived.

“He was sexy,” says Dumont-Keene. “He had the All-American thing going for him. He was the type of guy you’d want to bring home to mom. Female film fans kept his career alive more than anyone. Females adored him.”

Other actors in this film saw their careers survive too. Charlie Sheen went on to major roles in film and television. He played in “Red Dawn” along with Lea Thompson who was then cast for the “Back to the Future” films. Jennifer Gray was also in the original “Red Dawn.” She worked with Swayze again in “Dirty Dancing” as well as landing a role in the 1980s classic “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

A new version of the film is slated for a 2012 release. Chris Hemsworth, Isabel Lucas and Josh Hutcherson are starring in “Red Dawn.” This time it’s not about the Soviets invading. That’s right, rather than young people saving themselves from Soviet Communists, they are fending off North Korean invaders. It might not seem like a current threat. The talk was that this movie might be focused on radical Muslims. That never came together.

Todd says the difference between the two is simple. The 1984 version took risks and stood against the mainstream. The 2012 version is what he calls, “The ‘Leave it to Beaver’ version.”

“In the early ’80s, the Soviet Union was considered a threat to the United States. There was the feeling that they were going to bury us,” he recalls. “It’s not at all controversial to say bad things about North Koreans because it’s a terrible, horrible country. In today’s current events the threat America sees is from radical Muslims and these people are afraid to take it on.”

Todd believes the new version of “Red Dawn” will not have the same cultural impact that the original had because it doesn’t address any real issue or threat.

2012’s “Red Dawn” is directed by Dan Bradley who did behind the scenes work for “Spider Man” and “Bourne Ultimatum.” According to sources, its filming is now complete.

Frank McCaffrey is a contributor to NetRightDaily.com and a multi-media specialist for Americans for Limited Government.

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