52 user 32 critic

The Atomic Cafe (1982)

Disturbing collection of 1940s and 1950s United States government issued propaganda films designed to reassure Americans that the atomic bomb was not a threat to their safety.

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Special Bulletin (TV Movie 1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A TV reporter and cameraman are taken hostage on a tugboat while covering a workers strike. The demands of the hostage-takers are to collect all the nuclear detonators in the Charleston, SC... See full summary »

Director: Edward Zwick
Stars: Ed Flanders, Kathryn Walker, Roxanne Hart
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

Set in a bleak future where roving gangs of children terrorize city streets, and reality is often an illusion...

Director: David Gladwell
Stars: Julie Christie, Christopher Guard, Leonie Mellinger
Testament (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The life of a suburban American family is scarred after a nuclear attack.

Director: Lynne Littman
Stars: Jane Alexander, William Devane, Rossie Harris
Ground Zero (1987)
Action | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A second generation cameraman in Australia finds evidence that his father had filmed a nuclear test that allowed aboriginies to be exposed to and killed by radiation. He begins a search for... See full summary »

Directors: Bruce Myles, Michael Pattinson
Stars: Colin Friels, Jack Thompson, Donald Pleasence
Documentary | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A documentary presenting mankind's most ambitious effort at perfecting the means to its own annihilation. Featuring newly unclassified atomic test footage.

Director: Peter Kuran
Stars: William Shatner, Edward Teller, W.H.P. Blandy
Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The world after the nuclear apocalypse. Pale light lits the scenery of total destruction. The surviving humans vegetate in wet cellars under the nuclear winter. But somehow human spirit ... See full summary »

Director: Konstantin Lopushanskiy
Stars: Rolan Bykov, Iosif Ryklin, Viktor Mikhaylov
Whoops Apocalypse (TV Series 1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A light-hearted look at the final week before doomsday. American President Johnny Cyclops is trying to run a re-election campaign while dealing with the Russians, a deposed Shah needing to ... See full summary »

Stars: Barry Morse, John Barron, Ed Bishop
Threads (TV Movie 1984)
Drama | Sci-Fi | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Documentary-style account of a nuclear holocaust and its effect on the working class city of Sheffield, England, and the eventual long-term effects of nuclear war on civilization.

Director: Mick Jackson
Stars: Karen Meagher, Reece Dinsdale, David Brierly
Countdown to Looking Glass (TV Movie 1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Docudrama uses fictional reports of a crisis in the Middle East, which leads to a nuclear confrontation between the US and the USSR. "Looking Glass" is the code word for the Strategic Air ... See full summary »

Director: Fred Barzyk
Stars: Scott Glenn, Michael Murphy, Helen Shaver
The War Game (TV Movie 1965)
Documentary | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

The War Game is a fictional, worst-case-scenario docu-drama about nuclear war and its aftermath in and around a typical English city. Although it won an Oscar for Best Documentary, it is ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Watkins
Stars: Michael Aspel, Peter Graham, Kathy Staff
Action | Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

An earthquake in rural Australia causes a dangerous leak at WALDO, a nuclear waste storage facility. Heinrich Schmidt, an engineer badly hurt in the accident, knows that the leak will ... See full summary »

Director: Ian Barry
Stars: Steve Bisley, Arna-Maria Winchester, Ross Thompson
Rules of Engagement (TV Mini-Series 1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Political intrigue and murder occurs when the English town of Portsmouth is sealed off by the military during the eve of World War III.

Stars: Anna Calder-Marshall, Kenneth Cranham, Amanda Fawcett


Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Tibbets ...
Himself (archive footage)
Harry S. Truman ...
Himself (archive footage) (as President Harry S Truman)
W.H.P. Blandy ...
Himself - Commander of the Bikini Test (archive footage) (as Vice Admiral W.H.P. Blandy)
Brien McMahon ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Sen. Brian McMahon)
Lloyd Bentsen ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Rep. Lloyd Bentsen)
Owen Brewster ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Sen. Owen Brewster)
Julius Rosenberg ...
Himself (archive footage)
Ethel Rosenberg ...
Herself (archive footage)
Val Peterson ...
Himself - Director of Civil Defense (archive footage) (as Gov. Val Peterson)
Himself (archive footage) (as Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson)
Lewis Strauss ...
Himself - Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission (archive footage) (as Lewis L. Strauss)
George Molan ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Cpl. George Molan)
George Portell ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Tech Sgt. George Portell)
Jerry Schneider ...
Himself (archive footage)
Sergeant Weaver ...
Himself (archive footage)


A compilation of 1960's films about what to do in case of a Nuclear attack and the effects of radiation, also footage of troop tests of the exposure to an atomic bomb. Written by Michael Edwards <medwards@gate.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

29 October 1982 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Atomic Cafe  »

Box Office


$300,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In one segment, an American army chaplain describes the detonation of the A-bomb as "a wonderful sight to behold" and "one of the most beautiful sights ever seen by man". See more »


Civil defense film: Be sure to include tranquilizers to ease the strain and monotony of life in a fallout shelter. A bottle of 100 should be sufficient for a family of four. Tranquilizers are not a narcotic, and are not habit-forming.
See more »


Features Duck and Cover (1952) See more »


Flying Home
Written by Benny Goodman (uncredited), Lionel Hampton (uncredited) and Edgar De Lange (uncredited)
Performed by Glenn Miller and the Army Air Force Band
Courtesy of RCA Records, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Make Up Your Own Minds
4 April 2014 | by (Isle Of Bute , Scotland) – See all my reviews

THE ATOMIC CAFE is one of those few rare documentaries that doesn't have a narrator or a framing figure . All it consists of are clips in a chronological order of the history of the atomic bomb and of the early stages of the geo-political situation of what became known as " The Cold War " which was the direct result of the bomb . There's two ways of looking at this . One is the subject matter is a little bit dry and absurd and the second point of view of view is that the audience are allowed to make up there own mind and it's somewhat refreshing to see a documentary that doesn't involve someone bludgeoning the audience over the head while sticking their opinions down their throat in a painfully smug and snide manner . You can tell this wasn't made by Michael Moore

One wonders what life was like in a pre-nuclear age ? I remember the cold war in the 1980s and the paranoia of that era was chilling , so much so that for people of my generation still refer to the 1984 BBC docu-drama THREADS as the most terrifying thing they have ever seen . That said it could also be argued that if it wasn't for the bomb then a conventional war that would have surpassed the death toll of the second world war might have broken out between 1945 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 . Reagen in The White House and Brezhnev in the Kremlin ? Not really a recipe for peace and the fact that nuclear weapons are so terrible to contemplate probably focused the minds of world leaders

Being an American documentary all the clips are from an American point of view with an exception of a clip that's almost certainly from an early edition of PANORAMA from the BBC . This is a pity because I would liked to have seen what sort of propaganda if any the USSR was producing at the same time . That said the old cliché of " Americans don't understand irony " is evident as someone praises the virtues of American freedom " because we have shopping malls that are full of food and clothes and most families can afford cars " . I think someone is confusing system of government with economics .As I write this in 2014 China has shopping malls full of food and clothes and the Chinese people can afford to drive cars . The difference is there's no democratic system of government in China so democracy and capitalism are not the one and the same thing , but I guess that clip is to illustrate the inherent absurdity of propaganda ? Likewise we get clips of real life footage of American servicemen being used to test the effects of being caught in an atomic blast " There's nothing to worry about " and of relaxing should your city be caught up in a nuclear war . Did someone say " Absurd ? "

One very interesting point that is often talked about by the CND mob is in relation to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as in " Why didn't the Americans drop the bombs in a remote unpopulated area of Japan to force their surrender ? " I've often thought that myself and am unable to give a counter argument to that question . Here we see an interview with Paul Tibbets the pilot who dropped the bomb on Hiroshima who goes in to some detail - it's because these cities were untouched by arial bombing and the American government wanted to study the effects on a bombed city after the war had ended . Some people might think this is amoral or cruelly cynical but you can make up your own mind as to morality during wartime and THE ATOMIC CAFE does allow the audience to think for themselves no matter what the opinions of this documentary's producers are . In that respect it's very refreshing

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page