The Foreign Service Journal - July/August 2014 - page 38

38
JULY-AUGUST 2014
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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
For those of us in the Foreign Service, “State Department File 649”
is our cinematic showcase, William Lundigan our star,
and Virginia Bruce our Best Actress.
BY DONALD M . B I SHOP
A
h, the movies! They entertain. They
make us cry, or cheer. They lead us
down the paths of love, or fear. In front
of the big screen our blood runs cold,
or rushes in anticipation.
Films introduce us to the regions
of America and the countries of the
world. They take us to places—pris-
ons, courtrooms, airline cockpits,
mines, ranches, submarines—we are unlikely ever to visit in real
life.
Films also portray and introduce professions, giving visibil-
ity, dignity and, perhaps, adventure tomany walks of life. What
fisherman does not see something of himself in Spencer Tracy
(in “Captains Courageous”) or George Clooney (in “The Perfect
Storm”)? RobinWilliams in “Dead Poets Society” and Richard
Dreyfuss in “Mr. Holland’s Opus” surely make every teacher walk a
little taller. What American can see a locomotive without think-
FEATURE
It Deserved
an Oscar
Donald M. Bishop, a retired Foreign Service public diplomacy officer,
was a public affairs officer in Bangladesh, Nigeria and China, and twice
served as a foreign policy adviser at the Pentagon. His last assignment
was in Kabul.
ing of Denzel Washington (“Unstoppable”) or Barbara Stanwyck
(“Union Pacific”)? Tell lawyer jokes if you will, but who does not
admire Gregory Peck in “To Kill a Mockingbird” and Jimmy Stewart
in “Anatomy of a Murder”?
Once upon a time, Hollywood helped Americans get to know
our diplomatic corps throughmagnetic, attractive and well-
tailored actors like WilliamLundigan and Virginia Bruce. I refer, of
course, to the stars of that classic filmdirected by SamNewfield,
“State Department File 649.” I’m still hoping that Denzel, Kevin,
Keanu or Leonardo, paired with Sandra, Angelina, Renee or Lucy,
will star in a similar diplomatic blockbuster.
Yes, “Argo” gave us a slice of embassy life and quiet courage, but
the hero worked for the CIA. For those of us in the Foreign Service,
“State Department File 649” is our cinematic showcase, William
Lundigan our star, and Virginia Bruce our Best Actress.
This 1949 indie classic long lay in undeserved obscurity, until
Alpha Video recently made it—original, unedited, unenhanced,
unrestored—available in its rich, original CineColor on DVD and
online. Netflix can send you the film, or you can find it on YouTube
(or
. For those of you inWashington,
there’s a copy at the Ralph Bunche Library.
Wherever you view it, “State Department 649” deserves pride
of place at the next Foggy BottomFilmFestival. Let’s look, then, at
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