March Madness 2023: WWIII Movies Tournament: Round Two, Red and Silver Brackets

Well, the field is now down to sixteen. Half the films are gone and now the second round of matchups will start up. I’m excited about the pairings in the Red and Silver brackets and think the chances for an upset or two definitely exist. Let’s see how it all plays out.

Second Round: Red Bracket

1 The Day After

4 Jericho

Interesting contest between these two films as both represent war coming to American soil, so to speak. Jericho, being a television series, was less dramatic and compelling in how it presented the nuclear destruction of an American city and the struggles of  post-attack life. The series also suffered from the fact that it was released purely as entertainment and came at a time when the threat of nuclear war was all but forgotten by the American people. On the flip side, The Day After was a groundbreaking made-for-TV film intended to show the effects of nuclear war on a cross section of Americans and their families. It was released in November, 1983 at a time when the Cold War was dangerously close to becoming hot. 100 million viewers tuned it for The Day After and it is seen as a sobering, realistic portrayal of what a nuclear war would look like.

When all is said and done, it is clear The Day After left a lasting impression on the world and certainly made its mark on television history.

Winner: The Day After

2 World War III (Docudrama, 1998)

3 Fail Safe

A pair of extremely different films square off here. World War III goes to pains to present the big picture of an East-West crisis becoming a Third World War, and does so through intricate detail. Fail Safe presents a crisis and focuses on its major players. As with the first matchup above, timing played a critical role for both films. Fail Safe came out in the early 1960s when nuclear war was a real threat. World War III was released in 1998, not long after the Cold War ended. There was very little demand for a ‘what if’ Cold War/WWIII docudrama at that time. Having said that, however, World War III was very unique and has grown in popularity over the years. Fail Safe is forgotten to a large extent, having largely been left in the dust by Dr Strangelove.

Winner: World War III

Second Round: Silver Bracket

1 Dr Strangelove

4 Amerika

Speak of Dr Strangelove and it shall appear. Still considered by many to be the best political satire of the 20th Century and it is difficult to argue with that. The film is also regarded as a cinema classic, its mainstream success and popularity solidifying its immortality. Amerika, on the other hand, was a poorly written and directed miniseries best remembered for its wasted potential. It boasted an all-star cast but  even a cadre of Hollywood heavyweights from Kris Kristofferson to Sam Neill could not rescue Amerika from itself.

Winner: Dr Strangelove

2 Wargames

3 Red Dawn

‘Shall we play a game?’ and ‘Wolverines!’ The famous catch phrases from two popular American films that are still run regularly on television to this day. There is no disputing the mainstream success these films have earned, or the contribution they’ve made to American pop culture over the years. Since this is a tournament involving WWIII movies though, their merits in this specific area have to be carefully examined. In Wargames a malfunctioning computer in charge of US missile silos pushes the world to the brink of a nuclear exchange. Fortunately, a nerdy computer geek, his girlfriend, the burned out intellectual who built Joshua and a tobacco-chewing USAF four star come together and prevent Joshua from launching the missiles and starting a war. WWIII is close but the movie never crosses the line. Red Dawn in contrast is 100% World War III action from beginning to end. The Soviets and their allies invade the United States in the late 1980s, following a series of global events that fall in favor of the Soviet Union. A group of high school kids take to the hills to escape from Soviet airborne troops invading their hometown and eventually the kids become a group of partisans. They fight the Soviets with the help of a downed USAF F-15 pilot and become so great of a threat to the enemy that Spetsnaz troops are called in to try and deal with them. Authentic looking Soviet hardware, a believable backstory and great acting, along with the fact Red Dawn showed a lot of Commies graphically meeting their maker is enough to push Red Dawn into the next round.

Winner: Red Dawn


8 Replies to “March Madness 2023: WWIII Movies Tournament: Round Two, Red and Silver Brackets”

  1. Hi – Mike, thanks for the update on the 2nd round of March Madness. Just out of interest, I wonder whether you will be considering ( what will no doubt be a lengthy field ) of Great Cold War Spy films in the future ? and how you will pair up the contenders without the field being dominated by James Bond films played by Sean Connery, Lol. Speaking personally I’ve always liked the antithesis of Bond, in the form of ( he always wears glasses ) Harry Palmer, played by Michael Caine in films like Funeral in Berlin, the Ipcress Files & the Billion Dollar Brain, etc. ( based on the books by Len Deighton ) No doubt you have your favourite Spy films & hero’s too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve thought a bit about that. It’s probably a good direction to go in. I mean we’ve covered WWIII movies, games, and books in tournaments. Cold War spy films is a logical next step


      1. You could do a Cold War in general category, including proxy wars etc, not sure there would be enough just in the spy genre? I’m thinking of movies like The Beast about that Soviet tank crew in Afghanistan and possibly even comedies like The Russians are Coming?

        Liked by 1 person

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