The great film writer and director Nicholas Meyer is 69 years old today. You probably know him because he wrote and directed the two best Star Trek movies: The Wrath of Khan and The Undiscovered Country. They are probably the best ones because Meyer was not a Star Trek fan. Of the former film, he got to the heart of what’s wrong with the series (and even more so the later versions), “I didn’t insist that Captain Kirk go to the bathroom, but did Star Trek have to be so sanctified?” Clearly not.
Meyer hasn’t worked as a director in a long time. I think he’s always seen himself as a writer. He did recently write that four-hour History Channel series Houdini. I didn’t see it, but my father really enjoyed it. It’s interesting that he should have come to prominence because of the Sherlock Holmes novel, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution. Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle were friends — at least until all the mystical stuff ripped them apart.
What I’m most interested in is Meyer’s made-for-television film, The Day After. That was the one that was about nuclear war and how horrible it would be. I never saw it. I didn’t feel the need. Didn’t we already know? Plus, Threads provided more than enough information. (My understanding is that The Day After is rosy compared to Threads.) After the film, I guess they had a discussion with Carl Sagan on the anti-nuke side, and William F Buckley, always on the wrong side of history, pushing for the importance of nukes.
Normally, these kinds of issue films are totally worthless — preaching to the choir. But in this case, the film had a very special viewer: President of the United States Ronald Reagan. Apparently, it is not true that Reagan sent a message regarding the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty to Meyer saying, “Don’t think your movie didn’t have any part of this, because it did.” But Reagan (along with much of his staff) was apparently greatly affected by the film. He wrote in his journal that it was “very effective and left me greatly depressed.”
Let’s revisit Khan’s great Melville death:
Happy birthday Nicholas Meyer!