The Day After (1983)

TV Movie  |  Unrated  |   |  Drama, Sci-Fi  |  20 November 1983 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 10,190 users  
Reviews: 157 user | 27 critic

A graphic, disturbing film about the effects of a devastating nuclear holocaust on small-town residents of eastern Kansas.



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Won 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 4 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Stephen Klein (as Steven Guttenberg)
Jim Dahlberg
Lori Lethin ...
Calvin Jung ...
Clayton Day ...


The frightening story of the weeks leading up to and following a nuclear strike on the United States. The bulk of the activity centers around the town of Lawrence, Kansas. Written by Anthony Ventarola <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Beyond Imagining... See more »


Drama | Sci-Fi


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

20 November 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dagen efter  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


SEK 1,953,591 (Sweden)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (TV)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


With the full support and encouragement of the city of Lawrence, Kansas, the filmmakers from ABC successfully transformed Lawrence into a nuclear wasteland for a few weeks, knocking out windows in storefronts downtown, placing burnt and overturned cars painted with clouds of black spray throughout the streets, covering the streets and sidewalks with rubble and bricks, and setting up giant "tent cities" and shantytowns down on the banks of the Kansas River, where the teeming homeless set up camp after the attack. Over 2,000 Lawrence residents, including many University of Kansas students, were used as extras, and were paid $50 to shave their heads bald and act as if they were dying of radiation sickness. They were asked not to bathe during the aftermath scenes to add authenticity to the movie. See more »


Just after Steven Klein is dropped off on the country road, there a car is coming, but it never passes him and disappears in the next shot. See more »


Denise Dahlberg: They give me this ribbon to wear... but I haven't got any damn hair to put it into.
[Stephen takes off his baseball cap to reveal that he has no hair left at all]
Stephen Klein: You look great.
See more »


Referenced in Yes Man (2008) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A good film - critics are missing the point.
2 July 2002 | by (The Real LA - on the South Coast) – See all my reviews

I first saw the film as a high school student attending a Department of Defense school in Germany in the early 1980's. The film was shown in school and it scared the bejeeezus out of me and many of my fellow students. We were dealing with Red Army Faction terrorism, car bombs, bomb threats at school and only a few hundred miles from the border to East Germany. The concepts were quite accurate: if the eastern bloc came over the border, then the ONLY NATO response could be to fight a delayed retreat, blowing up roads and bridges as the US and Nato forces were pushed back and most of Germany would have fallen to the Eastern Bloc before any offensive action could have been taken. The scenario leading to the nuclear attacks are quite real and plausible.

The critics say the film was not graphic enough (they prefer things like Threads) or too graphic (prefering more subtile films like Testament ). There is no need to be totally graphic and accurate in portraying the events. Yes, we know it would be worse. But the goal is not to gross everyone out. We want younger audiences to see the film too - and that would never happen with something like theads. Likewise, a mored emotional but action lacking film would not draw in the audiences. The purpose was to 'get the point accross' and I think it did that very successfully - bad acting, flubbed lines, stock footage and all. It showed enough of the circumstances surrounding the events for those who had some education in things could recognize issues and say,"Yes thats right" while not being overly graphic so that only adults could see it.

If you want to see an action movie about nuclear war or you want to see a touchy-feely emotional treatment of the losses due to war - this film is not for you. The purpose of this film is to show what nuclear war may be like (in a very superficial way) and to remind everyone that it must NEVER happen again. Back in the early 1980's with the Soviets under a rotating leadership of old hardliners and the US with Ronny talking smack - the threat was very real and the reality check this film delivers was needed. It doesn't play as well in the year 2002 - but you must remember when a film was made when you see it.

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