No Nukes -- At the Beltway Plaza, Beacon Mall and Avalon 1.
Midway through the music in "No Nukes," a picture of former President Nixon flashed on the screen to the inevitable chorus of boos and hisses from the preview audience. Then the obvious reponse occurred to one mogiegoer: "Nuke him!"
Aside from that derelict thought, no nukes were definitely good nukes at a midnight screening of the movie last weekend. Not that the audience, an easy-to-please crowd that cheered the opening credits wildly, seemed overly concerned with the subtleties of the nuclear-power issue. They were there for rock'n'roll. And they got it.
But with 'No Nukes," they perhaps got more than they bargained for. Billed as a decumentary of last fall's benefit concerts in New York, it's a skillfully photographed, well-editied propaganda film that blends music, backstage footage and interviews into one slick package. You get your rock stars -- Jackson Browne, Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Doobie Brothers, John Hall, Graham Nash, Bonnie Raitt and Bruce Springsteen, to name a few. You get your citizen activists -- Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden, Maggie Kuhn and the ubiquitous Ralph Nader. There are scenes from an outdoor rally that attracted 250,000 people to Battery Park, and snippets from a 1952 Army film extolling the beauty of mushroom cluods.
But it's basically a concert film, and there are several outstanding performances: an electric James Taylor-Carly Simon version of "Mockingbird," Jackson Browne's "Running on Empty" and Graham Nash's emotional "Barrel of Pain" ("Wow, that was intense," breathed one guy as the last notes faded). Nash also performs a funny and touching duet of "Our House" with his baby son at the piano.
But the star of the show is clearly Springsteen, whose wonderfully manic performance of "Quarter to Three" left the concert audience literally begging for more. (The movie audience, for its part, stomped a lot and chanted "Broose! Broose!" at the screen.)
On the minus side, the Springsteen "Devil With the Blue Dress" medley that livened up the concert album is glaringly absent from the movie. And the 1980 version of Crosby, Stills & Nash is a jolt: aging preppie Stephen Stills, complete with beer belly, warbling his decade-old classic "Suite: Judy Blues Eyes" ("We sounded terrible!" he announced cheerfully when they got backstage).
But the audience ate it up, booing cheering and/or singing in the appropriate places. Imagine! A 1980 audience singing along as if at a hootenanny. As one enthusiastic antinuker at the Battery Park rally put it, "Put that in your hat and smoke it."