Freedom Song (2000)

This cable-TV movie, is set in the small town of Quinlan, Miss., in 1961.

Owen Walker (Vicellous Reon Shannon) is an African-American teen-ager who's trained by an out-of-state political organizer, Daniel Wall (Vondi Curtis Hall), to sit in at libraries, bus stations and lunch counters. When they try to register blacks to vote, they encounter the full force of the region's brutal racism and the Klu Klux Klan.

Writer-director Phil Alden Robinson (Field of Dreams) emphasizes the heroism of local activists of all ages as well as the boldness of the Kennedy administration's Justice Department.

Panic in the Streets (1950)

Panic in the Streets skillfully presents the behind-the-scenes drama of how plagues are kept under control in a modern American city.

Police discover a corpse on a New Orleans dock. Detective Captain Tom Warren (Paul Douglas) correctly thinks it's a case of murder. But Dr. Clinton Reed (Richard Widmark), a federal official, diagnoses the body as also carrying the bubonic plague. Director Elia Kazan (On the Waterfront) constructs a moody, atmospheric thriller with a documentary look.

Arts & Culture correspondent

John Prizer writes from Los Angeles.