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WUSA is a gripping political drama film released in the year 1970, directed by Stuart Rosenberg, and penned by Robert Stone from his novel "A Hall of Mirrors". The central roles in the film feature a collective of Hollywood heavyweights; Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, and Anthony Perkins.

The film introduces us to its central character, Rheinhardt (Paul Newman), a disenchanted drifter who's living a life adrift between places, never settling long enough to form any durable connections. His casual wanderings land him in the vibrant city of New Orleans, otherwise known as the Big Easy; which is anything but tranquil in the political turmoil that's portrayed in this movie. He begins working as a radio disc-jockey at one of the local stations, WUSA, not fully aware of the political chaos that rumbles below the media landscape in the precinct.

The station at first glance seems like any normal radio station, with Rheinhardt's job entailing a simple but boring stream of pre-written dialogues that he has to read on air. However, it's not long until Rheinhardt uncovers WUSA's machinations with ultra-right-wing propaganda under the guise of the southern-radio charm. His character arc is largely marked by his struggle to reconcile with the drawable allure of an easy job and a secure life that WUSA offers against his personal awakening towards its political machinations.

Paul Newman shares the screen with his real-life wife, Joanne Woodward, who portrays the role of Geraldine, an equally lost soul trying to seek firm ground. Geraldine is a recovering abused woman applying for public aid who finds an unlikely ally in Rainey (Anthony Perkins), a social worker who has unknowingly found himself involved with WUSA's corrupted schemes. Their individual struggles get intertwined as Rheinhardt’s relationship with Geraldine deepens, and Rainey’s investigations unearth darker truths about the station.

Through a variety of character perspectives, WUSA portrays the highly polarized and politicized media landscape of the era. It unveils the thinly veiled machinations of political maneuvering and manipulation that can take place behind appealing radio frequencies. It provides a grim take on the media's power to influence public opinion and, ultimately, a nation's political machinery.

The allure of WUSA lies as much in its star-studded cast as in its compelling narrative. Newman, known for his striking performances, does not disappoint in his role as Rheinhardt, and he masterfully portrays a disillusioned drifter who slowly awakens to his reality. Woodward, portraying a woman on the edge, brings a certain vulnerability and naiveness to her role that leaves a lasting impression. Perkins, embodying a misguided social worker fighting against a corrupt system, presents an emotionally captivating performance.

The backdrop of New Orleans adds another layer of charm to the film with it's distinctive cultural landscapes accenting the character development and narrative unfolding throughout the film. The visual storytelling comes alive with the bustling streets, the familiar bustle of radio station activities, the local gathering points, and the quiet interiors of Rheinhardt and Geraldine's shared home. The film's compelling cinematics and cultivated soundtrack builds an immersive and attention-grabbing environment, creating a canvas on which the film's socio-political themes come alive.

WUSA is as much a commentary on political manipulation and media culpability as it is a character study. The film's narrative creatively blends these threads and provides a multi-dimensional representation of the era's climate, encapsulated within the microcosmic world of a local New Orleans radio station. It's a gripping exploration of human vulnerability, responsibility, political corruption, and defiance.

In conclusion, WUSA is a riveting political drama that takes its viewers on a journey of manipulation, revelation, and defiance in a charismatic New Orleans setting. The compelling performances, the meticulously crafted plotline, and the insidious depiction of media manipulation ensure that this 1970 film lives on in the annals of memorable Hollywood cinema. Even half a century after its release, WUSA utilises its fearsome character dynamics, immersive storytelling, and social commentary to generate a powerful cinematic experience that still holds relevant debate points for contemporary audiences.

WUSA is a Drama movie released in 1970. It has a runtime of 115 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 5.5..

How to Watch WUSA

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Stuart Rosenberg
Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Anthony Perkins, Laurence Harvey
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