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The Commies are Coming,
the Commies are Coming

Jack Webb introducing Red Nightmare
Directed by George Waggner
Produced by William L. Hendricks
Jack Webb
Written by Vincent Fotre
Starring Jack Kelly
Jeanne Cooper
Music by Howard Jackson
William Lava
Cinematography Robert Hoffman
Editing by Folmer Blangsted
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) 1957
Running time 29 min./60 min. (video compilation)
Country  United States
Language English

The Commies are Coming, the Commies are Coming (1957) is the name of a 1985 video release of Red Nightmare by Rhino Video. Rhino's re-naming reflected the view of the company that presenting Communism as intrinsicly bad and a threat to the USA was alarmist. The film's original title was Armed Forces Information Film (AFIF) 120 Freedom and You [1]. It was meant to educate the US armed forces about the nature of Communism, which is the reason for the ending talk about 'YOU are the barrier to Red expansion' etc. The film was later released to American television and as an educational film to American schools under the title Red Nightmare. The film is a Cold War-era drama short subject starring Jack Kelly and Jeanne Cooper. Red Nightmare was directed by George Waggner (The Wolf Man) and narrated by Jack Webb. Though made for the Department of Defense it was shown on American television on Jack Webb's GE True in 1962.



A man takes his American freedoms for granted, until he wakes up one morning to find out that the United States Government has been replaced with a Communist system. The basis for this short film, narrated by Jack Webb, is the alleged Soviet re-creation of US communities for the purpose of training infiltrators, spies, and moles.

The film begins in what looks like a typical American town. The camera moves back to reveal barbed wire, barricades, and soldiers in Soviet Army uniforms. Narrator Jack Webb informs us that there are several places behind the Iron Curtain used for training Soviet espionage and sabotage forces prior to infiltrating America.

Webb introduces us to a typical American family of father Jerry (Jack Kelly), wife Helen (Jeanne Cooper), and daughter Linda (Patricia Woodell, the original Bobbie Jo on Petticoat Junction) Donovan. Her boyfriend Bill Martin (Peter Brown) has been invited to dinner but while Jerry lectures Bill on football plays, Bill only has eyes for Helen. All is not well, as Jerry's missing his PTA meeting to go bowling, and his intention to miss his Army Reserve training does not go over well with Helen. Linda and Bill inform Jerry and Helen they wish to get married but Jerry is angered and says they are too young, but he would have no objection if they waited five years after university.

Jack Webb explains how safe Jerry is in his world, but when Jerry goes to sleep, Webb looks grim and tells the audience Jerry is going to have a Red Nightmare.

Jerry awakes to find meetings in the public square about infiltrating America to bring down Capitalism. He returns home to find his daughter going to a farm collective escorted by Bill, who is now in Russian Army uniform. Helen informs Jerry that he will have to address the PTA on the glories of communism, which Jerry refuses to do, but his wife says he has no choice. At work, Jerry's foreman (Robert Conrad) tells him that he has not met his quota and must work through the lunch break to meet it.

On Sunday morning, Jerry wakes to find his two youngest children being sent to a State Communist school against his wishes. Jerry insists on the children going to Sunday School, and takes them to their church that has been turned into a museum glorifying the Soviet Union, including many inventions made by Americans which the Soviets claim to have invented. Jerry knocks the exhibits over, and is arrested by troops led by Commissar Peter Breck.

Jerry is brought to trial by a tribunal led by Andrew Duggan and is prosecuted by Mike Road; there is no jury nor a defense attorney. Jerry demands to know what he is charged with, but the rights Americans take for granted are long gone. Jerry is sentenced to execution, is restrained in a chair and gives a speech about the Soviet people waking up one day to overthrow communism, before he gets a bullet in the head from the Commissar.

Jerry wakes up to his freedoms and apologizes to Bill and Linda. Bill says that Jerry had a point about waiting to get married and he and Linda will do so after he finishes his enlistment in the US Army.


The production of the film is quite similar to episodes of The Twilight Zone though it predated that popular television series. It was made by Warner Bros. under the auspices of the Department of Defense "Directorate of Armed Forces Information and Education" (commonly referred to as training films) under the direct supervision of Jack L. Warner.

Webb described the 'nightmare' part of the film as the dramatization of a variety of stories told by refugees from Eastern Europe who fled the Soviet takeover of that region following World War II.

The cast of the film is a "Who's Who" of Warner Brothers Television of the time. The "everyman" hero is Jack Kelly, then the co-lead of Maverick, and other cast members starred or guest starred in Warner Brothers Television shows that proliferated on the ABC network.


  • The film was among those films released at the height of the Cold War, including On the Beach (1959), Atomic War Bride (1960), and Panic in Year Zero (1962).


Jack Kelly ... Jerry Donavan
Jeanne Cooper ... Helen Donavan
Peter Brown ... Bill Martin
Pat Woodell ... Linda Donavan (as Patricia Woodell)
Andrew Duggan ... Judge
Peter Breck ... Russian Officer
Robert Conrad ... Pete
Mike Road ... Prosecutor
Jack Webb ... On-Camera Narrator


External links

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