The Roth family leads a quiet life in a small village in the German Alps during the early 1930s. When the Nazis come to power, the family is divided and Martin Brietner, a family friend is caught up in the turmoil.
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
The "thanks" for Tony Owen is actually for Owen's wife Donna Reed, who shared a finder's fee with her high school science teacher for developing the premise of the film. See more »
A "Little Boy" type uranium bomb, the type used at Hiroshima is shown being loaded onto the tower for the first A bomb test. Actually, a "Fat Man" type bomb (utilizing plutonium) was used in this test, this type later being used in the bombing of Nagasaki. (A "Little Boy" type bomb is correctly shown being carried by the Enola Gay in the bombing of Hiroshima.) 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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Although the far more realistic Fat Man And Little Boy deals better with this subject, The Beginning Or The End still is a fine interpretation of the events leading up to the bombing of Hiroshima. No really big star names are in this film probably for the better giving it a nice ring of authenticity.
Playing the parts of General Leslie Groves and scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer the partnership of the military and science that created the atomic bomb are Brian Donlevy and Hume Cronyn. Both bear more than a passing resemblance to the real people.
The Manhattan Project, the overall name for the effort to create a super weapon to bring a short end to World War II and get it before the Axis did was probably the best kept secret in all of a human history. I have to say it because it involved the efforts of a few thousand people at the various sites at White Sands, Oak Ridge, UCLA, Chicago and of course Manhattan. My father did his wartime service at Oak Ridge and he was just a regular GI and still had no real idea himself what he was doing there.
Fat Man And Little Boy is far more introspective dealing with the moral decision to use the bomb on a live target. The Beginning Or The End comes down very hard and unquestionably on the rightness of Truman's decision to drop the bomb. Both presidents Roosevelt and Truman are here and played by Geoffrey Tearle and Art Baker respectively.
The peaceful uses of atomic energy are also discussed and trumpeted. Four younger players Robert Walker, Tom Drake, Beverly Tyler, and Audrey Totter represent a quartet of idealistic young people working on the project who talk about a much better world that atomic energy can create. One of them dies in this effort. As for the better world we've reassessed atomic energy in the wake of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. With our dependence on oil however, nuclear energy is once again being reassessed as an alternative.
The Beginning Or The End still holds up well today with Donlevy and Cronyn heading an impeccably cast ensemble.
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