A Paralyzing Fear: The Story Of Polio In America

  • 1997
  • 1 HR 30 MIN
  • NR
  • Documentary

An engaging, solidly researched and thoroughly informative history of polio in America. Poliomyelitis, a viral infection that attacks the central nervous system and often results in paralysis and death, had existed for thousands of years in other parts of the world, but was relatively unknown in America until the late 19th century. Director Nina Seavey...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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An engaging, solidly researched and thoroughly informative history of polio in America. Poliomyelitis, a viral infection that attacks the central nervous system and often results in paralysis and death, had existed for thousands of years in other parts of the

world, but was relatively unknown in America until the late 19th century. Director Nina Seavey not only charts the chronology of "the crippler" from the first major American epidemic of 1916 to the '50s race for a vaccine, but also chronicles the shifting cultural perceptions of polio and its

survivors. She's done an astonishing amount of research and brings to life what could have been a musty round-up of facts and figures. Seavey was the first person allowed into the March of Dimes files since its treasury of films, photographs and documents were warehoused in 1962, and intersperses

archival materials with heartbreaking interviews with polio survivors. By structuring the film much like a mystery and never revealing too much too soon, she even manages to wring considerable suspense from the spectacle of a nation holding its breath for the results of the first large-scale field

test of Jonas Salk's killed-virus vaccine.

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  • Released: 1997
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: An engaging, solidly researched and thoroughly informative history of polio in America. Poliomyelitis, a viral infection that attacks the central nervous system and often results in paralysis and death, had existed for thousands of years in other parts of… (more)

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