6.3/10
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9 user 13 critic

The Atomic City (1952)

Unrated | | Thriller, Drama | 1 May 1952 (USA)
An atomic scientist's son is kidnapped by enemy agents.

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Dr. Frank Addison
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Martha Addison
Michael Moore ...
Russ Farley
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Ellen Haskell
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Tommy Addison
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Insp. Harold Mann
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Emil Jablons
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F.B.I. Agent George Weinberg
Houseley Stevenson Jr. ...
'Greg' Gregson
Leonard Strong ...
Donald Clark
Jerry Hausner ...
John Pattiz
John Damler ...
Dr. Peter Rassett
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Robert Kalnick (as George M. Lynn)
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Mortie Fenton
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Arnie Molter
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Storyline

At Los Alamos, New Mexico, the maximum-security "atomic city" of U.S. nuclear-weapons research, top atomic scientist Frank Addison has a normal, middle-American life with his wife and son...until the boy is kidnapped by enemy agents to extort H-bomb secrets. Result, a fast moving chase thriller with some parental soul-searching. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

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Taglines:

HELD FOR RANSOM! Kidnappers demand atomic secrets! See more »

Genres:

Thriller | Drama

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

1 May 1952 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Stadt der tausend Gefahren  »

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Trivia

Gene Barry's film debut. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Hiding in the Ruins
9 February 2009 | by (Claremont,USA) – See all my reviews

Check out the first 20 minutes even though the suspense hasn't yet kicked in. We get a pretty good look at super-secret Los Alamos just a few years after the big bomb test that helped end WWII. Except for the tight security, it looks unthreatening enough. Note how it's a TV repairman, an obvious regular guy, who takes us through security. Once through, it's like any-town-USA, nice homes, quiet streets, kids going to school, and a family TV on the blink. Later on we see little Tommy and little Peggy frolicking along streets lined with impressive looking facilities separated by locked gates. The movie appears to be saying, "Okay, we're tough, only because we have to be. But, basically, we're still just folks."

Now, I expect that was a comforting message to Cold War audiences still not used to government's "dooms-day" research. It's a clear effort at popular reassurance. The one darker note is when Tommy's mother (Clarke) worries about her son's mental state. He doesn't say, "When I grow up"; instead, it's, "If I grow up". That note of doubt not only reflects a Los Alamos reality, but also a national one that in 1952 had just seen footage of the apocalyptic H-bomb. Note too, how professionally FBI agents are portrayed, a standard feature of McCarthy era fare. When brute force is needed, it's not they, but private citizen Gene Barry who thrashes out the information—an early version, I suppose, of modern era "rendition".

Once the kidnapping occurs, the suspense doesn't let up. The intrigue is nicely handled with colorful LA locations that keep us guessing. The climactic scenes around the cliff dwellings may not be plausible as a hiding place, but the view of northern New Mexico is great. Then too, the ancient stone apartments amount to one of the more exotic backdrops of the decade. Note also the extensive use of the police helicopter just coming into use as a law enforcement tool. Among an otherwise subdued cast, Nancy Gates remains a sparkling presence as teacher Ellen Haskell. Never Hollywood glamorous, she was still a fine unsung actress and winning personality. I also expect this was one of director Hopper's more successful movie efforts, and though people have since gotten used to the nuclear threat, the movie remains a revealing and riveting document of its time.


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