6.8/10
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18 user 5 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.

Director:

Norman Taurog

Writers:

Robert Considine (story), Frank Wead
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Brian Donlevy ... Major General Leslie R. Groves
Robert Walker ... Colonel 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 Godfrey Tearle ... President Roosevelt
Victor Francen ... Dr. Marré
Richard Haydn ... Dr. Chisholm
Jonathan Hale ... Dr. Vannevar Bush
John Litel ... K.T. Keller
Henry O'Neill ... General Thomas F. Farrell
Warner Anderson ... Captain William S. Parsons U.S.N.
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Storyline

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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Taglines:

For the first time on any screen - the personal, human story of those who lived and loved and dared to brave the mysteries in the making of the atom bomb. See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 February 1947 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Alku vai loppu See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut of Guy Williams. See more »

Goofs

In all the close-ups of the B-29's where the crew is shown looking out. There is no glass in any of the windows. See more »

Quotes

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.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Hiroshima: Why the Bomb Was Dropped (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

 
bombs away
18 May 2008 | by dedalus7632See all my reviews

The idea for this film was brought to the studio(MGM) by Donna Reed, whose high school science teacher had written to her about the secret WW11atomic bomb research project at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Later, Donna and her husband, Tony Owen, received a $50,000 finders fee for this contribution. Always a contentious project, cooperation came from the army, including General Groves, manager of the Manhattan Project and from top scientists including J. Robert Oppenheimer, at Berkeley, and Albert Einstein, at Princeton. President Truman knew about the film and met with the producer. The script went through a lengthy development with columnist/screenwriter Bob Considine, and Clark Gable was originally in mind for the Robert Walker part. The Tom Drake scene, scattering a "going-critical mass" with his unprotected hand, is based on an actual incident, and the scientist who did it at the Chicago research lab (and possibly saved a good section of the city), died as a result.

Not successful at the box office, the studio rationalized the picture was too soon after the war and too realistic: audiences were not able to assimilate a story about nuclear energy in the late '40s, they were terrified of the bomb, of radiation fallout; pictures of Hiroshima were still in the news..

The film walks a fine line between fact and fiction (it received an Academy Award nomination for best documentary), but how effective was softening a docu-drama with a fictionalized love story?. The atomic "pile" was constructed on a sound stage, and the shots of the B-29 formation seem an appropriate metaphor for the film's subtext, the power of the nascent military/industrial relationship... moving forcefully ahead into the unknown.


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