zeph’s pop culture quiz #13
What are these gentlemen deciding?
Just leave a comment with your educated guess—you can ask for additional hints, too. [Leaving a comment is easy; just click the 'Leave a comment' at the end of the post and fill in the form. If it's the first time you post a comment, it will be held for moderation. But I am constantly checking, and once I've approved a comment, your next ones won't be held, but published immediately by the system.]
UPDATE 1 (02 February 2012):
It seems to be a really tough one this week. I do admit that the movie in question is little known today, but I deem it to be a seminal one. Here are some more hints:
I could also have asked: ‘What is transmitted?’ and shown the new screenshot above. The information received by the apparatus shown is a direct consequence of the decisions the gentlemen at the conference table in the first screenshot make. But no, they do not decide to build some machine or system, as guessed in the comments. Although in the past they have decided to drive a specific technology forward. What they are deciding now potentially are matters of life and death.
UPDATE 2 (03 February 2012):
If you can guess who or what these people are, than you know what kind of technology the gentlemen at the conference table in the first screenshot had driven forward. From this it only is a small step to the solution.
UPDATE 3 (04 February 2012):
Here’s another screenshot which definitely should lead you towards the technology in question. And maybe you even pick up the other strong hint in this picture.
UPDATE 4 and solution (04 February 2012):
The screenshot in update 3 finally led ↑kueperpunk to ↵the solution. He recognized Leslie Nielsen and so found the movie: ‘The Resurrection of Zachary Wheeler’ (Wynn 1971).
In order to answer the question what the gentlemen in the first screenshot are deciding, I have to tell a bit of the story (some spoilers ahead):
Investigative TV journalist Harry Walsh (Leslie Nielsen), driving in a car together with his cameraman, comes to the scene of a car accident. He immediately recognizes the nearly fatally wounded victim in the crashed car—presidential candidate Senator Clayton Zachary Wheeler (Bradford Dillman). An ambulance brings Wheeler into the next hospital. Walsh follows, but then Wheeler mysteriously vanishes from the hospital and the official news stories say that he has gone on holiday, fishing somewhere remote. Walsh senses a big-time cover-up and conspiracy, tries to track Wheeler and to find out the truth. Now for the spoilers.
Years ago a secret committee (first screenshot above), comprising high-ranking politicians and industry leaders, has sponsored a research project in genetic technology. Dr. Redding (James Daly) and his assistant Dr. Layle Johnson (Angie Dickinson) have perfected the technique of cloning human beings. Inside a secret facility, everything financed by the committee, located somewhere in New Mexico’s desert, they grow ‘somas,’ blank human clones (third screenshot above), who nearly have no cognitive functions at all.
When Zachary Wheeler suffers the nearly fatal accident, his genetic profile is transmitted to the secret facility (second screenshot above). The information is injected into one of the blank clones, who then developes into a double of Wheeler. (In the screenshot above Walsh has discovered a second Wheeler-clone and first thinks it is Wheeler himself.)
The clone double then serves as a repository of organs, as spare parts. That way it was possible to resurrect Zachary Wheeler. The clone was slaughtered and all the necessary parts transplanted.
The whole process of course is very costly. Hence the committee maintains a list of people whom they will help with Dr. Redding’s technology. In the first screenshot the committee has a session and decides whom to put on the list and whom not. Of course only people who can help the political and economical goals of the committee will make it to the list.
Sounds familiar? Well, the core idea—clones as spare parts reservoirs for the rich and powerful—we also have in ‘↑The Island‘ (Bay 2005). And indeed, there was a copyright infringement suit against ‘The Island’ … by the makers of ‘↑Parts: The Clonus Horror‘ (Fiveson 1979). It eventually ↑was set out of court. A year before ‘Clonus’ there was ‘↑Coma‘ (Crichton 1978) based on the ↑novel of the same name by Robin Cook (1977). It has the organ-repository theme, but without cloning. ‘The Resurrection of Zachary Wheeler’ predates all this by far, plus it also has that political thriller angle. In my opinion it’s a great injustice that the movie is hardly known today.
With the presidential elections in the USA under way this year I recommend to you cyberpunk afiçionados: ‘↑The Manchurian Candidate‘ (Frankenheimer 1962), ‘The Resurrection of Zachary Wheeler,‘ and the great novel ‘↑Interface‘ (Stephenson & Jewsbury 1994).