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Fat Man and Little Boy (1989)

6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 4,779 users  
Reviews: 43 user | 20 critic

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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Title: Fat Man and Little Boy (1989)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
Kathleen Robinson
Ron Frazier ...
Peter de Silva
...
Capt. Richard Schoenfield, MD
...
Ron Vawter ...
Jamie Latrobe
Michael Brockman ...
William 'Deke' Parsons
Del Close ...
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

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Roland Joffé cast numerous real-life scientists, including future Nobel Prize winner David Politzer, in small speaking and background roles. See more »

Goofs

When the Santa Fe passenger train carrying Gen. Groves is stopped in the middle of nowhere to receive a motorcycle courier-delivered message, the train is being pulled by a type of diesel locomotive that was not in use in the early 1940s. The color scheme was right for Santa Fe passenger trains of that time but was never used on that type of locomotive. See more »

Quotes

Gen. Leslie R. Groves: Gotta come down out of the clouds gentlemen, and get into the business... of winning the war.
See more »


Soundtracks

Brown Jug Swing
(J.E. Winner)
Arranged by Garnett Brown
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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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