I caught John Badham's 'War Games' on Vision Tv tonight (religious tv... their choices are interesting). One of the things I like about watching 'old films' is the glimpse you get into the fashion, trends, psychology, thoughts and ideas of the times. Normally I wouldn't have considered the 1983 'War Games' as old but it is fascinating to see the obsessions of the day. Fear is rampant. Fear of technology, fear of the Soviets, fear of one's own military and fear of nuclear war (a fear we will visit again). It is interesting as it is near the end of the cold war but highlights American uncertainty.
'War Games' isn't alone as the early eighties saw the release of 'Red Dawn' (1984), 'The Terminator' (1984) and 'The Day After' (1983). James Cameron also explored his nuclear holocaust fears in 'Terminator 2' and 'The Abyss' (more in the directors cut). These films don't stand alone as they follow in the footsteps of Sidney Lumet's 1964 'Fail Safe' and Stanley Kubrick's 1964 satire 'Dr. Strangelove'. What's interesting here is that these films are twenty years apart and all in the third or fourth year of the decade. There doesn't seem to be much made about the topic in the 1970's. What's also interesting is Cameron's shift of fear in the 1994 'True Lies'...
As an aside, 'Ally Sheedy', the co-star in 'War Games' apparently became an obsession of some of the hacker community in the early eighties. If you are interested in phone phreaking or hacking you should check out Jonathan Littman's non fiction novels 'Fugitive Game: Online with Kevin Mitnick' and 'Watchman', a book about the famous hacker 'Kevin Poulsen'. Both books make for entertaining and fascinating reading. The subjects of the those books do make claim that Littman's truths are flawed and I can understand their point. However, if Littman unwittingly combines truth with fiction or legend, it doesn't detract from the sheer enjoyment you get from reading the books.