For a town that has more students of political power per square head than any other place in the world, it is just and fitting that the second set of "Portraits of Power" premieres here today.
The new series of 13 half-hour documentary films on world leaders will be shown at the National Archives Building three times each week: Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. and Fridays at noon and 2:30 p.m. except the Nov. 22-23 holiday.
Telecasts are scheduled in 45 countries, including ours, this fall.
What sets this series apart from the usual compilation film is its point of view. The programs are based on the first-hand observations and comments by such journalists as Harrison E. Salisbury, Drew Middleton, Turner Catledge, Terence Smith, Tom Wicker and others from the New York Times, which co-produced the series.
For instance, Drew Middleton shows us an Eisenhower whom most of us had forgotten: a careful man of "infinite guile" whose seeming candor disarmed the press during his generalship, whose deliberate diffidence about politics led him unerringly into the presidency he sought.
Again and again we are treated to analyses of the many ways to power. Those who seized it, who inherited it, who had it thrust upon them -- all are dissected by these sophisticated critics.
And, as one has come to expect from the Archives, the filmed material is priceless. Culled from thousands of hours of old newsreels and other sources, it gives us glimpses of the early stuggles of Palestine, of a slim young Ben-Gurion with flaming eyes, of the legendary Ataturk and the senior Shah of Iran, that 6-foot-8 giant who seized an empire only to see it slip into the hands of his playboy son.
The scenes are by no means merely interesting random footage. When we are shown the Arab Mufti of Jerusalem heiling Hilter at their meeting, the meaning of this connection is discussed in terms of the manipulation of power.
Henry Fonda narrates this series, as he did the first 13 episodes.
"Truman: Years of Decision," "Adenauer: Germany Reborn," and "Franco: Caudillo of Spain," Nov. 1 and 2.
"Hirohito: The Chrysanthemum Throne" and "Eisenhower: Years of Caution," Nov. 8 and 9.
"Tito: Power of Resistance" and "Khrushchev: The Bear's Embrace," Nov. 15 and 16.
"Kennedy: Years of Charisma" and "Mohammad Reza Pahlayi: Politics of Oil," Nov. 29 and 30.
Mahatma Gandhi: Soul Force" and "Elizabeth II: Winds of Change," Dec. 6 and 7.
"Nasser: People's Pharaoh" and "Ben-Gurion: One Place, One People," Dec. 13 and 14.