How a Clean, Tidy Home Can Help You Survive the Atomic Bomb: A Cold War Film from 1954

Last week, we revisited some Cold War propaganda that taught upstanding American citizens How to Spot a Communist Using Literary Criticism. It’s a gem, but it has nothing on the 1954 film, The House in the Middle. Selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by The Library of Congress, the short documentary makes the ultimate case for cleanliness. Bringing viewers to the Nevada Proving Grounds, the 12-minute film shows what happens when clean, white houses are subjected to heat waves from an atomic blast, versus what happens when a dingy, ill-kept house goes through the same drill. It turns out that neat people can not only claim moral victory (as they always do). They also get to live another day. Consider it proof of the survival of the tidiest.

The film was produced by the National Clean Up-Paint Up-Fix Up Bureau with support from the Federal Civil Defense Administration. The National Paint, Varnish and Lacquer Association also apparently played a role, suggesting that corporate interests were capitalizing on wartime fear. Not the first time that’s happened in America. Or that last…

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Related Content:

An Survival Guide to the Post Apocalypse (NSFW)

Duck and Cover, or: How I Learned to Elude the Bomb

Hiroshima After the Atomic Bomb in 360 Degrees


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