21 user 6 critic

The Beginning or the End (1947)

The research, development, and deployment of the first atomic bomb, as well as the bombing of Hiroshima, are detailed in this docudrama.


Norman Taurog


Bob Considine (story) (as Robert Considine), Frank Wead




Cast overview, first billed only:
Brian Donlevy ... Maj. Gen. Leslie R. Groves
Robert Walker ... Col. Jeff Nixon
Tom Drake ... Matt Cochran
Beverly Tyler ... Anne Cochran
Audrey Totter ... Jean O'Leary
Hume Cronyn ... Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer
Hurd Hatfield ... Dr. John Wyatt
Joseph Calleia ... Dr. Enrico Fermi
Godfrey Tearle ... President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Victor Francen ... Dr. Marré
Richard Haydn ... Dr. Chisholm
Jonathan Hale ... Dr. Vannevar Bush
John Litel ... K.T. Keller
Henry O'Neill ... Gen. Thomas F. Farrell
Warner Anderson ... Capt. William S. Parsons U.S.N.


Docudrama on the development of the first atomic bomb. Told from the perspective of a film recovered from a time capsule several hundred years into the future, the story is narrated by Robert Oppenheimer (Hume Cronyn) and Major General Leslie Groves (Brian Donlevy) beginning with the Nazis stated goal of developing an atomic bomb. Along with Britain and Canada, the U.S. reacts by beginning its own atomic program. The major developments are all presented: Fermi's successful atomic chain reaction; building the huge complex at Oak Ridge, Tenn.; the production of the first supply of plutonium; the testing in the Nevada desert; and finally the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Written by garykmcd

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She Could Not Shake the Secret! See more »


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Agnes Moorehead filmed a bit as a German scientist, but it was cut when the producers couldn't get a clearance from the actual scientist. See more »


The original Trinity Site bomb (called "the gadget" by the scientists) detonated in New Mexico in July 1945 was not the sleek, traditional bomb shape shown in the movie. Actually, "the gadget" was spherical and covered externally with wires. See more »


End Title Card: To the people of the 25th Century: The was THE BEGINNING. Only you, and those who have lived between us and you, can know THE END.
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Referenced in Forecast (1945) See more »

User Reviews

Worthy of at least an outing on Turner. Better still on DVD and Blu-ray.
22 May 2010 | by jslasherSee all my reviews

The aforementioned reviewers have some interesting things to say about the screenplay, direction and the cast. Unfortunately, no mention has been made about the cinematography (first-rate) and the excellent music score composed and conducted by Daniele Amfitheatrof. The composer employed the services of an augmented orchestra, which in some cues numbers in excess of 100-players. In one scene (unfortunately cut from the release print) Amfitheatrof composed a dissonant motif in a syncopated dance-band rhythm, over which an electric violin plays a bittersweet theme. The great Andre Previn worked as one of the copyists on the score.

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Release Date:

19 February 1947 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Beginning or the End See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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