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Fat Man and Little Boy (1989)

This film reenacts the Manhattan Project, the secret wartime project in New Mexico where the first atomic bombs were designed and built.

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2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
...
...
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Kathleen Robinson
Ron Frazier ...
Peer de Silva
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Richard Schoenfield
...
Ron Vawter ...
Jamie Latrobe
Michael Brockman ...
William 'Deke' Parsons
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Dr. Kenneth Whiteside
...
Robert Tuckson
...
Franz Goethe (as Alan Corduner)
...
Seth Neddermeyer (as Joseph D'Angerio)
Jon DeVries ...
Johnny Mount (as Jon De Vries)
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Storyline

In real life, Robert Oppenheimer was the scientific head of the Manhattan Project, the secret wartime project in New Mexico where the first atomic bombs were designed and built. General Leslie Groves was in overall command of it. This film reenacts the project with an emphasis on their relationship. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The story of the extraordinary people who changed our world.


Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

20 October 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Schattenmacher  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Gross:

$3,563,162 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

J. Robert Oppenheimer, portrayed in the film by Dwight Schultz, was the first director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, holding the position during the lab's first years between 1943 and 1945. See more »

Goofs

The Battle of the Philippines ended on 8 May 1942, with the Allied surrender of the Philippines to Japan. By that point, US soldiers stationed in the Philippines were either evacuated off the islands, POWs in a Japanese prison camps, missing in action, or killed in action. Nearly a year later, in April 1943, John Cusack's character, Michael Merriman, arrives in Los Alamos. Shortly afterwards, he writes to his Dad that "I think of Jimmy, fighting in the Philippines". Later, when he mets Laura Dern's character, Nurse Kathleen Robinson, he explains that he has a brother, who "is a solider". By April 1943, it seems unlikely that Merriman would call his brother Jimmy "a solider" if he were a POW, missing in action, or dead. If Merriman's brother had been evacuated off the Philippines, it is unlikely that Merriman would say Jimmy is "fighting in the Philippines", rather than the past tense, or saying that he is now fighting a different battle, or "fighting the Pacific" or "fighting against the Japanese", etc. See more »

Quotes

Gen. Leslie R. Groves: We could give this country the biggest stick in the playground, and I intend to do that.
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Connections

Spun-off from The Beginning or the End (1947) See more »

Soundtracks

Dance of the Reed Flutes
By Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (as P. Tchaikovsky)
Courtesy of TRF Production Music Libraries
By Arrangement with Kaleidosound
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User Reviews

 
The Best Engineering flick in decades, great history and melodrama, too
22 June 2002 | by (Somewhere in Soho) – See all my reviews

It's rare for a movie to both encompass the process of problem solving and a fantastically far-reaching moral quandary AND be a fairly accurate historical movie, but Fat Man and Little Boy pulls off this trick.

It's the story of the Manhattan Project -- the World War II effort to build the atom bomb, told as the conflict between the two men who made it happen, Gen. Leslie Groves and Robert Oppenheimer.

The historical figures are a great study in opposites: military vs. civilian, practical vs. idealistic, emotional vs. scientific, brute force vs. consensus-based problem solving, immediacy vs. long-term vision. A fictional character, played by John Cusack, is added as a sort of synthesis of the two historical figures, to show the humanity that oddly escapes the real people (and of course the obligatory love interest, played by Laura Dern). One looking for a straight documentary might criticize the lapses into melodrama (and occasional looseness with the facts, but that's Hollywood for ya), but the purpose of fiction is to synthesize and galvanize events into more universal truths, so I think this can be forgiven.

One of the great visuals in the movie is when Oppenheimer witnesses the first atomic explosion: it's done entirely through his reaction, and considering the awesome visuals inherent in an atomic explosion, it's a brave and entirely effective way of describing in a single moment the ambivalent effect on humans of unleashing such power (the sort of thing lost in the typical Hollywood shoot 'em up version of history.) The use of music is particularly excellent in the last third of the movie.

Fairly accessible and highly recommended as both a historical movie and drama of the highest order.


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