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G Entries
Frederic Gadette
Beverly Garland
Fred Gebhardt
William Gibson
Jeff Goldblum
Jerry Goldsmith
Bernard Gordon
Bert I. Gordon
Peter Graves
Lorne Greene
Sir Alec Guinness
 
GADETTE, FREDERIC
(1922–1967). American director.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Directed, co-produced, and co-wrote with Peter Abenheim and Betty Lasky: This Is Not a Test (1962).
 
In a previous version of this entry, I desperately solicited an e-mail message from someone with biographical information about Frederic Gadette—and miraculously, such a message has appeared, from his daughter Jill Gadette Christensen. Thanks to her, I can now reveal that Gadette was born in Boston, around 1922, and soon started working in community theater. In the 1950s, he drifted into television work, directing episodes of You Asked for It, and by the 1960s he was directing for ABC's Wide World of Sports before prematurely dying of lung cancer in 1967. All of this, presumably, Christensen was long familiar with. What she sounded surprised to learn was that, sometime during the interlude between You Asked for It and ABC's Wide World of Sports, Gadette had made a name for himself in the science fiction Z-movie scene by directing the extraordinary This Is Not a Test.

I first became aware of his unique contribution to the genre when I was talking to a friend about the worst science fiction movies ever made, and he enthusiastically suggested a film called This Is Not a Test. Later, when a local television station aired the film, I had a chance to see it for myself, and to confirm that my friend's aesthetic judgment was sound. Yet Frederic Gadette's only known film is strangely rewarding. With a non-existent budget, unknown and talentless actors, and amateurish filming techniques, This Is Not a Test depicts the desperate efforts of a small band of average citizens to protect themselves from an impending nuclear attack. Of course, their efforts are futile, as one of them eventually explains: the truck they are employing as their barricade will provide no defense against a hydrogen bomb, and the leader of the group can only respond by lamely and illogically suggesting that the approaching bomb might only be a uranium bomb. This is a film, therefore, with an ineptness that becomes profound, as it perfectly reflects the genuine ineptness that ordinary people would display in the face of nuclear weapons, and it stands with Peter WATKINS's The War Game, also a rather ragged effort (though deliberately so in Watkins's case), as the two most powerful indictments of atomic war ever filmed, achieving far more impact through their artlessness than more polished meditations on the subject like On the Beach (1959) or The Day After (1983). When one addresses certain subjects, it seems, talent is a liability.

And how might his newly discovered biography relate to This Is Not a Test? It may have been a project first dreamed up by some old friends from community theater, who approached Gadette because he was the only experienced director they knew. But I prefer to believe that Gadette primarily created the film himself—because he harbored a secret fondness for science fiction, because he wanted to tell stories about everyday people instead of responding to their inane requests, or because—as a low-level television director—he could relate quite well to the feelings of utter powerlessness experienced by the hapless victims of a nuclear holocaust. Perhaps Christensen's ongoing research into her father's career will yield an answer; if so, I hope she'll let me know.

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