I just checked and it turned out that the movie "The Night of the Generals" was made in 1967. So by the time I saw it I had had a lot more experience with totalitarian regimes and the third world than is good for anybody.

In that movie Omar Sherif was the hero, a German police official who was investigating murders done by some German generals in occupied France and occupied Poland.

Finally, in late 1944, he accumulated evidence that the German general being played by Peter O'Toole had committed the murders. So he walked into that SS general's headquarters, surrounded by loyal SS men, to arrest him for murder. He had no backup.

As it happened he walked in to arrest this SS general at the very moment when it was announced that a bomb had been planted in Hitler's headquarters and the Fuhrer had been injured and all loyal Nazis were being called to arms to suppress the rebellion.

So when the Sharif character announced to the SS general, the guy with a skull on his hat and a 9MM in his holster, guess what happened?

The general pulled out his pistol, shot the policeman, and went out to call his troops to action.

You may have difficulty believing this, but when the Sharif policeman got the bullet in his chest, his only reaction one of complete surprise, which seems to be what the moviemakers expected of the audience.

I reacted with complete surprise to his surprise.

If a policeman went into a Stalinist enclave of the KGB to arrest the commanding general, what would any rational person expect would be the reaction of a general with a gun at his side?

Forget the movie idea that this was at a moment of crisis. Today we are all aware of the fact that if a policeman went in alone to arrest a general in a totalitarian state, he would be shot.

I am trying to give you an insight into the mind of the 1960s. Americans then had no experience whatsoever with the real third world or with real totalitarianism. Back then a hippy was seriously considered to be a real revolutionary.

Back in the 1960s all of the media featured hippies and called them true revolutionaries.

But back to our reality check. How could anybody believe that a policeman could walk in and arrest a general working for an absolutist dictator? By the same token, how could anyone believe that true revolutionaries were people who were always covered by the media?

You don't go in alone and arrest generals in a totalitarian state. And nowhere on earth are true revolutionaries given constant prime time coverage.

The fact that none of this ever occurred to anybody at the time is manifest in the audience's total shock at the fact that Sharif's policeman was shot and the SS general went on with the emergency.

The same population never considered it odd that "true revolutionaries" were on every talk show.

Reality check: somebody was nuts here, either the American public or me.