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The Atomic Cafe
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The Atomic Cafe (1982) More at IMDbPro »

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The Atomic Cafe -- Co-directed by Kevin Raferty ("Roger and Me"), ATOMIC CAFE is a chilling and often hilarious reminder of Cold War-era paranoia in the United States.


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Release Date:
29 October 1982 (Finland) See more »
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
1 win & 1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
History Repeating See more (47 total) »


  (in credits order)
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)

Lyndon Johnson ... 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)
Seymour Melman ... Himself - Columbia University (archive footage) (as Prof. Seymour Melman)
Mario Salvadori ... Himself - Columbia University (archive footage) (as Prof. Mario Salvadori)
Nikita Khrushchev ... Himself (archive footage)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Hugh Beaumont ... Military Officer (archive footage) (uncredited)

Albert Einstein ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Dwight D. Eisenhower ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
J. Edgar Hoover ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Douglas MacArthur ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Joseph McCarthy ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Richard Nixon ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
William H. Peterson ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Ronald Reagan ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
George A. Smathers ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Joseph Stalin ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
James E. Van Zandt ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Directed by
Jayne Loader 
Kevin Rafferty 
Pierce Rafferty 
Produced by
Jayne Loader .... producer
Kevin Rafferty .... producer
Pierce Rafferty .... producer
Film Editing by
Jayne Loader 
Kevin Rafferty 
Sound Department
Margaret Crimmins .... sound editor (as Margie Crimmins)
Lee Dichter .... sound mix: Photo Magnetic Studios
Andrea Hull .... sound assistant
Editorial Department
Cyndi Bono .... negative cutter
Dominick Bono .... negative cutter
MaryAnn DiLillo .... negative cutter (as Mary-Ann Dillillo)
Music Department
John Allinson .... music source
Ray Avery .... music source
Richard Bass .... music consultant
David Dunaway .... music consultant
Rick Eaker .... music coordinator
Helen Hunter .... music source
Robert Javors .... music source
William L. Schurk .... music source
Raymond Wile .... music source
Charles Wolfe .... music consultant (as Dr. Charles Wolfe)
Other crew
Nan Allendorfer .... additional archival researcher: Washington
Obie Benz .... production consultant
Carol Clement .... titles
Stewart M. Crone .... memorial activities
Jon Else .... additional archival researcher: Los Alamos
Margaret Henry .... additional archival researcher: London
Susan Kellam .... production consultant
Victoria Peterson .... additional archival researcher: Los Angeles
George Pillsbury .... production consultant
Pierce Rafferty .... archival researcher
David Thaxton .... additional archival researcher: Washington
Chris Beaver .... special thanks
Lance Bird .... special thanks
Joseph P. Bono .... special thanks: Bono Film Services
Lillian Brandon .... special thanks
Tom Brandon .... special thanks
Alida R. Dayton .... special thanks
Richard D. Ero .... special thanks: Bono Film Services
Charles Grigg .... special thanks
Joseph K. Hooper .... special thanks: Bono Film Services
Richard N. Houk .... special thanks: Bono Film Services
Judy Irving .... special thanks
Tom Johnson .... special thanks
Arthur Kanegis .... special thanks
Richard Klein .... special thanks
Mireille C. Kreeger .... special thanks: Bono Film Services
Mary Lampson .... special thanks
Terry Lawler .... special thanks
J. Fred MacDonald .... special thanks
Dorothy J. MacDorman .... special thanks: Bono Film Services
Miguel Ángel Muñoz .... special thanks: Bono Film Services (as Miguel A. Muñoz)
Ginny Newsom .... special thanks
Carl P. Palumbo .... special thanks: Bono Film Services
Rick Prelinger .... special thanks (as Richard Prelinger)
Mrs. W.G. Rafferty .... special thanks
Allen L. Russell .... special thanks: Bono Film Services
Deborah Shaffer .... special thanks
Zenon J. Slawinski .... special thanks: Bono Film Services

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Additional Details

Also Known As:
86 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

The archival footage seen in the film is from 1940s and 1950s.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 »
Movie Connections:
Atom Bomb BabySee more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
12 out of 17 people found the following review useful.
History Repeating, 4 November 2004
Author: Ayse Hamid from San Diego, USA

Watching Atomic Café is like witnessing history repeating, since the scenes are a compilation of bits and pieces from pre-existing films taken from government and education films from the '40s and '50s. As a compilation film, Atomic Café has resulted in a totally new film that is much richer and more meaningful than the sum of its parts.

Atomic Café, will be more understandable if we are familiar with the roots of its historical material. As a history film, Atomic Café takes us to experience three levels of time. The first is the internal time, the Cold War, communism versus the free world, when propaganda about the atomic bomb was made to persuade the people that only nuclear weapons would protect them from the "Evil Empire". The period of the'Nuclear Free' movement comes next. And thirdly, the present time, when the world is changed but has to face the same irony that still is just as relevant today, the fear of weapons of mass destruction.

In the beginning, the film appears to be a straightforward history of America's development and use of atomic weapons. Historical footage is used to add credibility to the information presented. The power of the bomb is demonstrated by showing dramatic footage of the Trinity test; interviews with Bikini Islanders, and preserved eyewitness congressional testimony of atomic bomb veterans. The impact of the weapon is documented through footage of the bomb victims. The intention is not to make us become objective about certain issues, rather it 'is designed to make us question the nature of the information presented' (Freeman Reading Packet, 108).

The film uses unique techniques. It is like a collage that 'sacrifices the conventions of continuity editing and the sense of a very specific location in time and place that follows from it to explore associations and patterns that involve temporal rhythms and spatial juxtaposition' (Nichols, 102). It is all about editing raw material and splicing segments? of military training films, civil defense films, archive footage, interviews, newsreel material, and fifties music. Many sequences are edited to show the most ridiculous side of the duck-and-cover drills and how naïve the Americans were at that time. To make it more derisive the film shows how the military training films were so amateurishly acted and misleading, such as the scene about the beauty of the H-bomb. I believe that the filmmakers have made their point in choosing all the footage for the film. Perhaps the intention is to challenge and deprive the intended message of the original footage.

If we take a look in more detail, Atomic Café chooses and juxtaposes its various elements to support its point-of-view. One of the examples is the continual references to radio receivers. Perhaps it is a symbol that is used to invoke the idea of the power of mass media. The intention is 'to sensitize us to the danger of uncritical media consumption' (Freeman Reading Packet, 110). It is so ironic to see how people in the '50s could be so passive that they believed in every single thing that they heard about the atom bomb on the radio. We can see from the footage how people became so afraid and escaped to their shelter after hearing that a bomb was launched. Perhaps fear had taken such control of these people that the more frightened they were, the more they were easily persuaded.

I guess it would be a great mistake to ignore the political message that is contained in the film. Maybe for some viewers this is just a gimmick about the Cold War and things that happens during the '50's. But really, Atomic Café gives us an historical perspective for reconsidering the effect of the issues of war, nuclear warfare and weapons of mass destruction.

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Disturbing, at times... Boring, thoroughly highwayChile
great old footage ksf-2
what were the actual ideas expressed about the times covered? swashbuck1
Song (about Eisenhower?) iskander777888
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