Unclear and Present Danger

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215 reviews
This podcast has
18 episodes
Date created
Last published
Average duration
71 min.
Release period
15 days


New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie and freelance writer John Ganz delve into the world of 90s post-Cold War thrillers with Unclear and Present Danger, a podcast that explores America in an age of transition to lone superpower, at once triumphant and unsure of its role in the world.

Podcast episodes

Check latest episodes from Unclear and Present Danger podcast

Falling Down
Jamelle, for one, has been very excited about this episode, an analysis of Joel Schumacher's 1993 film "Falling Down." In the conversation, Jamelle and John discuss the populist moment of the early 1990s, the discourse around the "angry white man," the class politics (or lack thereof) of the film, and the erosion of the post-war anti-fascist consensus.
In this episode of Unclear and President Danger, Jamelle and John discuss "Sniper," a delightful piece of genre trash that also happens to speak to some of the paranoias and prejudices of the era. To that point, their conversation veers from the anti-Bill Clinton conspiracy theories of the early 1990s to the militia aesthetic that emerged later in the decade.
Under Siege
For episode 16 of Unclear and Present Danger, Jamelle and John discuss "Under Siege," 1992 action thriller directed by Andrew Davis and starring Steven Seagal in what is clearly his best role. We talk about Seagal's career, Hollywood's view of the American military in this era of filmmaking, and the strange, almost left-wing politics of this movie in particular. Jamelle also attempts a bad impression of Seagal. It's a good time. "Under Siege" is available for rent on Amazon and iTunes.
Sneakers (feat. Mike Duncan)
On episode 15 of Unclear and Present Danger, Jamelle and John are joined by Mike Duncan (Revolutions podcast, “Hero of Two Worlds: The Marquis de Lafayette in the Age of Revolution”) to discuss the delightful 1992 thriller Sneakers. It’s a movie about a tech mogul who hopes to stage an information revolution and, not surprisingly, John, Jamelle and Mike discuss the internet, social revolutions, and the challenge of building something out of nothing.
It’s episode 14 of Unclear and Present Danger and we’re talking Oliver Stone’s ridiculous yet incredibly-compelling conspiracy thriller, JFK. Jamelle and John are joined by the historian Alexis Coe to discuss the film, as well as the real John F. Kennedy, his life and legacy. This is a long and fruitful conversation, that covers everything from the Boomer wish-fulfillment which animates the movie to the political consequences of conspiracy-thinking.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Is a Star Trek movie a political and military thriller? We think so! Which is why, for this thirteenth episode of Unclear and Present Danger, Jamelle and John (and their guest, Sam Adler-Bell of the “Know Your Enemy” podcast) discussed Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. They talked about the nature of Star Trek’s utopianism, questioned whether the Federation is actually a good thing, and gave a close reading of the film’s Cold War allegory.
Company Business
On episode 12 of Unclear and Present and Danger, Jamelle and John talk about, and puzzle over, the 1991 action comedy (comedic thriller?) "Company Business." They have an extended discussion of Gene Hackman's career, talk Mikhail Gorbachev and the collapse of the Soviet Union, and think about the surge of populism that struck American politics in the early 1990s.
Flight of the Intruder
On this 11th episode of Unclear and Present Danger, Jamelle and John are joined by the journalist and author Jonathan Katz to talk John Milius' 1991 Vietnam drama, "Flight of the Intruder." Among many other things, they talk Milius' work and career, the place of Vietnam in American's historical memory, the political impact of the Gulf War, and the search for meaning through conflict.
Going Under
In this tenth episode of Unclear and Present Danger, Jamelle and John talk a little about this week's movie, the 1991 submarine farce "Going Under," but devote most of the episode to discussing the war in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin's regime in Russia, and the way the world has underestimated the power of democracy.
The Russia House
On this week's episode of Unclear and Present Danger, Jamelle and John talk the 1990 John Le Carré adaptation "The Russia House," starring Sean Connery and Michelle Pfeiffer. They discuss the social base for intelligence work during the Cold War, the period of glasnost and perestroika in the Soviet Union, the politics of nostalgia and the film's excellent wardrobe. You can rent "The Russia House" on iTunes or on Amazon.
Hidden Agenda
In this week's episode of Unclear and Present Danger, Jamelle and John tackle yet another movie about the Troubles, the 1990 film "Hidden Agenda." This one, however, is more concerned with British politics than the well-being of the Irish people. They discuss Margaret Thatcher, talk a little about colonialism and the intra-European origins of racism, and complain about the dearth of well-made political thrillers.
By Dawn’s Early Light
In this episode of Unclear and Present Danger, Jamelle and John discuss the 1990 made-for-TV movie “By Dawn’s Early Light.” Their conversation centers on the politics of nuclear weapons, what they mean for constitutional democracy, and how fear of nuclear weapons has been a potent political tool since the end of the Second World War.

Podcast Reviews

Read Unclear and Present Danger podcast reviews

4.8 out of 5
215 reviews
JDH44 2022/06/20
Great idea executed with aplomb
I found this through the “Blank Check” podcast and I’m enthralled. These movies good bad and otherwise are a big part of my childhood and listening to...
The Illusive Man 7916 2022/06/29
Great topic, Weak content
I think this is a great idea for a podcast and there are some fun and thoughtful moments in this podcast. But, generally speaking, the point of view b...
AV252 2022/05/28
Great pod that takes me back to my teens. Yes I saw the 90’s Clancy flicks on opening weekend
signandsight 2022/06/12
Excellent and fun analysis
If you are: * a middle aged millennial (or a liberal Jack Ryan dad) * a fan of J Bouie on other podcasts (or his excellent Times column) * especially ...
beeps__ 2022/05/16
cattle mutilations are up
listening to Jamelle and John be beacons into such a wonderful genre of american film is a truly enjoyable experience
Omnignorant 2022/04/23
Making sense of the present danger
As a child of Russian immigrants who grew up during the end of the Cold War watching many of these movies as they were released with both western and ...
Taylor Schreiner 2022/05/14
Jamelle is my Freshman Year Roomate
Or he should have been. This is the level of over-analysis of movies I have always wanted — and all about the movies I loved watching in the 90s. I ho...
hyland_john 2022/04/06
Really enjoy this!
Smart, funny, thoughtful - appreciate their observations and the interplay between them.
Ser Garlan Tyrell 2022/03/22
Smart and thought provoking
I really look forward to every other Friday when a new episode drops. They do an excellent job putting the movies into historical context, and with re...
David from Eastwood 2022/03/18
Enjoyed the Conversation.
Always enjoy this Podcast. As someone who has seen most of these movies in the theater it is interesting to review them from a modern perspective. Hav...


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