|Index||9 reviews in total|
11 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
A very effective and interesting cold war era thriller., 15 December 2001
Author: jim riecken (youroldpaljim)
In this cold war thriller, Gene Barry plays Frank Addison, an atomic
scientist at Los Almos (aka The Atomic City) whose son Tommy is kidnapped by
communist agents. The kidnappers demand from Addison that he hand over
atomic secrets in exchange for Tommy's safe return.
This very effective cold war era espionage thriller used turn up often on late night television in late sixties and early seventies. I missed it then, but got a chance to see it very recently when I found a video copy tucked away in a remote corner of my favorite video store. I found THE ATOMIC CITY to be a tense, exciting thriller of the type they made so well back in the late forties and early fifties. The film moves at a quick pace, most of the cast is good, the black and white photography excellent, and very good use of real locations.
One interesting thing I discovered while watching this film is how Los Almos was actually a self contained city, hence the title. The scientists who worked at Los Almos lived in houses inside the secure confines of Los Almos. Los Almos even had its own schools. It is interesting that Tommy is kidnapped when he leaves the secure isolated confines of "The Atomic City" when goes on a school trip.
9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Was nominated for an Academy Award - Best Writing, Story and Screenplay, 27 December 2006
Author: captainapache from United States
Here is a much lesser known 50's sci-fi with a little different twist.
An atomic researchers son is kidnapped and held for a ransom of the the
Father's atomic secrets.
This is a tightly knit atomic sci-fi thriller with great production values and above average acting, even from the kid. The Atomic City actually has a movie feel to it unlike a lot of other 50's sci-fi of this time which which came off more like an episode of a TV show.
The Atomic City was also actually nominated for an Academy Award for Best Screenplay - how many other 50's sci-fi can tout an Academy Award Nomination?
Great pacing, tight direction and some superb location filming in the 'real' Atomic City of Los Alamos, New Mexico make this one worth hunting down. The collectors print in circulation is an above average transfer and makes for a great double feature with the Atomic Man!!
10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Worth viewing as an early 'cold war' movie, 15 September 2000
Just watched this movie and it's not bad; there are a few tense moments and not a lot of long dialog strings. Comes off as fairly intelligent; fastpaced almost like 'documentary style'. This movie will evoke some nostalgia and a bit of cold war paranoia with cars,street scenes,and life in the 50's. The acting is fairly solid and at 85 minutes run time it goes by at a good pace. An atomic era film buff shouldn't miss this one.
7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
An enjoyable Atomic Age thriller, 5 March 2003
Author: Chris Gaskin from Derby, England
I have just watched The Atomic City for the first time and was very
impressed by it.
A nuclear scientist's son is kidnapped when he goes out of the confines of Los Almos on a school trip. The kidnappers want to know the secrets of the H bomb, but it isn't long before the FBI are on the case and the kidnappers eventually track down the boy and the kidnappers in some old cliff dwellings. The boy is rescued at the end, but not before he nearly falls from a cliff trying to escape the kidnappers.
This movie was filmed on location in Los Almos and San Francisco and good use is made of these locations. It gives you an idea on what life was like in this period.
The movie's cast includes Gene Barry (War Of The Worlds), Nancy Gates (World Without End) and the boy is played well by Lee Aaker (The Challenge of Rin Tin Tin).
I enjoyed this movie and is worth watching if you get the chance.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Ahead of its time but lacks necessary bite., 13 July 2006
Author: Space_Mafune from Newfoundland, Canada
The young son of nuclear physicist Dr. Frank Addison (Gene Barry) is
kidnapped by enemy agents. They offer up his life and well-being in
trade for the H-bomb secret knowledge Dr. Addison possesses of
America's atomic program.
This cold war paranoia thriller is in some ways ahead of its time as many such themed films would get made in the years to come. While it has its moments, maintaining an high level of suspense with regards to the continued safety of Dr. Addison's son Tommy (well played by Lee Aaker) and creating an exciting climax at the end, this disappoints in that it never delves into the negative possibilities associated with the H-bomb secrets falling into enemy hands, an exploration of which I feel would have given this the bite it lacks. Also the villains remain much too colorless and forgettable aside from a chilling sequence where they try and lure the child Tommy out of a cave hideaway. All in all though, it's better than I expected thanks in no small part to a good cast and tight-paced direction.
7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Ancient atomic thriller noir, 13 July 2005
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
The Atomic City refers to the community of Los Alamos in New Mexico
where nuclear scientists live and work. It's a self contained private
community with right security as tight as when it began during World
War II. But on a school trip, Lee Aaker son of atomic scientist Gene
Barry, is kidnapped and held for ransom for the secret of the newly
developed hydrogen bomb.
This film was made in 1952 at the time when Julius and Ethel Rosenberg's case was on appeal and front page headlines. So it was a timely film back during the McCarthy era.
It's a tightly edited little noir thriller. I recommend it highly as an antique of bygone days.
What was amusing to me is the way the FBI is portrayed. In this day and age I'm not sure too many people really care other than for political posturing as to how terrorists are treated. Back then though the FBI had this all American image. They don't do things like torture prisoners.
When Leonard Strong one of the kidnappers is nabbed, he laughingly flings the Bill of Rights and the FBI's code of conduct in their faces and won't divulge anything. Then Milburn Stone, the FBI agent takes a break and father Gene Barry goes in with the prisoner alone. Needless to say, Strong coughs up what they need but quick.
J.Edgar Hoover was most concerned about the image of his bureau and his agents, so the third degree for the FBI couldn't be shown. Kind of laughable today.
3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Standard-typical Thriller., 7 February 2009
Author: Robert J. Maxwell (email@example.com) from Deming, New Mexico, USA
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A gang of Soviet hoods kidnap the young son of a nuclear physicist with
the intention of blackmailing the father into handing over the nuclear
farm. They do not succeed.
There is some nice location shooting at a reasonably well-preserved Indian community. Aside from that, the film's virtues are negligible. The direction by Jerry Hopper is clumsy and overstated, the performances routine, the musical score out of the suspense-movie library.
It isn't that the movie is insulting or offensive in any way. It's just that there's not much of substance there. Even the title, "Atomic City," is misleading. The city is Los Alamos, which was not much of a city, and it happens to be where the scientist, Gene Barry, and his indistinctive family live. The nuclear secrets are hardly touched upon, serving mostly as the engine behind the thriller plot. The MacGuffin could just as easily have been money or the world's largest diamond, except that the Soviet Union was the generic enemy during this period -- Korea being in full bloom at the time.
Gene Barry seems fatigued throughout. Millburn Stone as the FBI's chief mahoff is clipped and definitive. Bert Fried as one of the goons rolls around being bad. He does have a good scene, in which he sits in a dark Indian kiva with the kidnapped boy and chats with him, not unkindly. The various FBI agents and all of the women are only blurry characters.
One can see the influence, though, of the docudramas of the late 1940s and early 1950s. These were generally narrated by the stentorian Reed Hadley. Here, there is no narration but the movie does illustrate the care taken by the FBI in keeping its secrets carefully hidden. There is also a curious scene in which a Soviet agent is being interrogated. He knows where the boy is hidden but refuses to tell. Gene Barry wants to beat the guy up until he squeals but the FBI prevent him, telling him that physical punishment of a prisoner is forbidden by the rules. It sounds rather quaint in today's interrogation climate.
I was kind of looking forward to seeing this. The plot synopsis was attractive. But, alas, there isn't anything that lifts this generic film out of its cradle of mediocrity.
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Starts Nicely, But Then..., 23 December 2009
I found "The Atomic CIty" somewhat disappointing after two viewings. It
starts from an interesting platform; young son of big-shot post-war
nuke scientist bottled-up in New Mexican middle-of-nowhere research
base is kidnapped and held for intelligence ransom. But after 30
minutes it descends straight down to a very mediocre, run-of-the-mill
kidnapped kid story complete with all cliché trimmings (hysterical
mother, overwrought macho dad).
The film drifts between styles. The lead-in sets up a documentary-style narrative. But then the early family scenes present a more dramatic style. Scenes where the cops are tracking down the kidnappers slide back into documentary. It's a goofy stew with uneven pacing.
To make matters worse none of the characters are well developed and by the end you'll probably find that you just don't care what happens very much any more.
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Hiding in the Ruins, 9 February 2009
Author: dougdoepke from Claremont, USA
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 informationan 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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