Watch Steve Jobs play FDR in Apple film, circa '1984'

You'll have to go to Buzzblog if you want to see Steve Jobs playfully portraying Franklin Delano Roosevelt - right down to the cigarette holder - it's there in all of its 20-second glory.

That clip is from an eight-and-a-half-minute film entitled "1944," also on the blog, that was Apple's in-house takeoff on "1984," the iconic first Macintosh TV ad that caused a sensation during that year's Super Bowl (and started the whole public obsession with Super Bowl commercials). Set as a World War II tale of good vs. IBM, it is a broadcast-quality production (said to have cost $50,000) that was designed to fire up Apple's international sales force at a 1984 meeting in Hawaii.

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A copy of "1944" was provided to me by one-time Apple employee Craig Elliott, formerly the head of Packeteer, and now CEO of Pertino Networks, a cloud-computing startup located two blocks from Apple in Cupertino.

Elliott, who worked at Apple from 1985 to 1996, says he has "never seen (the film) anywhere else" and that there had been "no additional circulation" as far as he knows. I couldn't find it online, either - the year 1984 was pre-World Wide Web, of course -- which doesn't mean it isn't out there.

Two snippets from "1944," without any dialogue, do appear in another Jobs video - a photo-montage tribute to him made by Apple employees to mark his 30th birthday. After Jobs died last October, Elliott posted that birthday video to his Facebook page, from where it went viral before being knocked off the 'Net by Sony Music Entertainment because it used a Bob Dylan song.

The connections between "1984" and "1944" were a bit on the ham-handed side, as might be expected with this type of production.

Anyone who's seen the TV commercial no doubt will recognize in "1944" the reprised role of the female hammer thrower, although I'm not sure if it's actually the athlete and actress Anya Major from "1984." And, if you recall, Apple's famous ad ended with a narrator intoning: "On January 24th, Apple Computer will release Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like '1984.' " This motivational film begins: "On January 24, 1984, Apple Computer introduced Macintosh. And we saw why 1984 was like ... 1944."

While professional actors play the key roles in "1944," there are other Apple employees besides Jobs on screen, including Mike Murray, then vice president of marketing, as The General, according to Elliott. Because allegations that Macintosh lacked software had dogged Apple prior to its release, the film takes pains in several places to counter that criticism, including purported pledges of support from Microsoft's Bill Gates, as well as Mitch Kapor of pre-IBM Lotus Development Corp. The crate smashed open by the hammer thrower in the film spills a pile of software.

Here's what Jobs says into a telephone, face obscured by a desk chair, in his big FDR scene:

"General, you and your brave fighting force have a rendezvous with destiny. Your battle will be long, it will be hard, but it will be won. I am sure your victory will be great."

He then hangs up the phone, turns toward the camera, drops an awful FDR voice and grins:

"Insanely great."

You've got to see it.

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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