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WUSA 1970
Description: Rheinhardt, a cynical drifter, gets a job as an announcer for right-wing radio station WUSA in Fresh Orleans. Rheinhardt is content to parrot WUSA's reactionary editorial stance on the air, even if he doesn't accept with it. Rheinhardt finds his cynical detachment challenged by a lady friend, Geraldine, and by Rainey, a neighbour and troubled idealist who becomes aware of WUSA's sinister, hidden purpose. And when happenings begin spinning out of control, even Rheinhardt finds he gotta take a stand.
Released: 12 Mar 1971 Director: Stuart Rosenberg Writers: Robert Stone (screenplay), Robert Stone (novel) Actors: Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Anthony Perkins, Laurence Harvey Genres: Drama, Romance
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WUSA Reviews:

This one of my favourite films of all time with Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Antony Perkins, Cloris Leachman and Pat Hingle all at their best. Reinhart (Newman), a boy who's washed up as a musician becomes a "communicator" at WUSA, a right-wing radio station in Fresh Orleans. He is not an ideologue himself –not a Rush Limbaugh character– just an employee, a DJ– I think he reads the news. But the fact that he works there at all paints him a right winger to his antagonist played by Perkins. The movie includes some of my favourite lines of dialog in film, like when Reinhart gets the job and Leachman is thrilled. "Yeah, just great. I'm part of a pattern in someone else's head." He's long past being thrilled.There are two necessary and tense scenes between Perkins, a do-gooder who lacks the primary confidence that gets Newman shacked up within mins of his comeback in Fresh Orleans. In one of them, Perkins stutters through his outrage, wanting to know what's going on at WUSA. Newman coolly listens and responds acidly: "I understand your situation... because I too am a moralist." Perkins responds with a smirk and an "oh yeah, right" which Newman cuts off, "...but there IS a solution to your dilemma..." to which Perkins stammers "a-a-and w-w-w-what w-would that be Reinhart?" Newman's smile disappears and he responds with his thumbs down: "Drop dead." He repeats the line with all the rage and contempt he can muster, all his feelings so twisted inside him that he can barely function. The feelings Perkins needs to create him feel competent Newman has felt too and they have hollowed him out. Newman's not right wing. He's just beat. Dropped out. If you don't know that, you don't understand where Reinhart's coming from. He's a sleepwalking boy but mostly he is as disappointed and disillusioned as a boy can be. Unfortunately, the hero played by Perkins is much better at retaining his illusions with tragic consequences.This film is about ideological exhaustion and the delusions of the ideologically pure, both left and right wing.What is so nice about WUSA for me is that it's the only time, another than Hud, when Newman was an actor first, a star second. And this one's the grittiest. The reason for its unpopularity is that it is uncompromisingly honest about a political case which to some extent still exists today. It really comes down on neither side of the political divide or, to be more accurate, cute gruesomely insults both, thus satisfying no one who expects a film to be partisan. It's ironic that it's hated because it is a "message movie."


I know this movie bombed and has some platitudes that are wonderful script-wise, but I can't trust the ratings folks give this. I've been searching for this movie for years (having seen in 1970) and it's haunted me. Newman, Woodward, and T. Perkins are nice with an interesting hero by Cloris Leachman. I love the script that has some holes, but 1970 was the excellent year for this kind of story.No matter what your political stance is OR was, this has something for everyone. Throw in Pat Hingle and Laurence Harvey as a preacher, it's Americana at it's most corrupt in a turbulent time (that I almost miss). If you can search this somewhere, give it a shot. An 8 out of 10. Greatest performance = Anthony Perkins.


As a relatively newest resident of the US, I continue to be astonished at how quickly American audiences forget their own history. I saw WUSA many years ago when I still lived in my native Italy (the Italian ver was titled "Un Uomo Oggi" = "A Boy Today"!). Two snippets of the movie have been with me for all these years. The first is the radio host that invites all to drop what they are doing, go to the window, launch it, and begin screaming something like "I am fed up and I will no longer place up with this!" The second snippet is the last line delivered in the film by the hero interpreted by Paul Newman -- and I will not tell what it tells to avoid spoiling it. The themes are large and understandably audiences nowadays are impatient of 'dialog that sounds like speeches' (to quote an unfair reviewer on this site). The south, the problems of bigotry, racism, the Seventies, civic disobedience. At least the dialog has something to say, unlike so many movies of the past 30 years. There is so much newest American history in this film that it could be a mandatory assignment for college-age kids. Most folks happily ignore its existence. Is there a method to convince anyone to create this piece accessible in DVD? It is too necessary to be neglected. No matter what Roger Greenspun tells in his review appeared in the Fresh York Times of November 2, 1970. In those days the Vietnam Fight coverage in the media made each single political reference seem like other occasion for constipated American audiences to open into yet one more conspiracy theory. And the Grenspun review blames WUSA for being 'ponderously allusive'. Maybe, with the hiatus of the past thirty-something years, the allusiveness will seem by actually much less allusive and, who knows, we might play this pretty rendition of Robert Stone's novel. Besides the large issues, however, the film is quite enjoyable. My vote of 8 only evaluates the viewing pleasure as entertainment.



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