Disturbing collection of 1940s and 1950s United States government-issued propaganda films designed to reassure Americans that the atomic bomb was not a threat to their safety.
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Tibbets ... Self (archive footage)
Harry S. Truman ... Self (archive footage) (as President Harry S Truman)
W.H.P. Blandy W.H.P. Blandy ... Self - Commander of the Bikini Test (archive footage) (as Vice Admiral W.H.P. Blandy)
Brien McMahon Brien McMahon ... Self (archive footage) (as Sen. Brian McMahon)
Lloyd Bentsen ... Self (archive footage) (as Rep. Lloyd Bentsen)
Owen Brewster Owen Brewster ... Self (archive footage) (as Sen. Owen Brewster)
Julius Rosenberg ... Self (archive footage)
Ethel Rosenberg ... Self (archive footage)
Val Peterson Val Peterson ... Self - Director of Civil Defense (archive footage) (as Gov. Val Peterson)
Lyndon B. Johnson ... Self (archive footage) (as Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson)
Lewis Strauss Lewis Strauss ... Self - Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission (archive footage) (as Lewis L. Strauss)
George Molan George Molan ... Self (archive footage) (as Cpl. George Molan)
George Portell George Portell ... Self (archive footage) (as Tech Sgt. George Portell)
Jerry Schneider Jerry Schneider ... Self (archive footage)
Sergeant Weaver Sergeant Weaver ... Self (archive footage)
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Storyline

A compilation of 1960's films about what to do in case of a Nuclear attack and the effects of radiation, also footage of troop tests of the exposure to an atomic bomb. Written by Michael Edwards <medwards@gate.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The filmmakers, according to one of them, Jayne Loader, describe this documentary as a "..."compilation vérité" - a compilation film with no 'Voice of God' narration and no new footage created by us, the filmmakers". Loader said: "Emile de Antonio, Bruce Conner, Philippe Mora were some of the filmmakers that influenced us during the production process. The entire cinema vérité movement influenced us, as did novelists like Robert Coover and theorists like Herbert Schiller and Gerry Mander". See more »

Quotes

Civil defense film: Be sure to include tranquilizers to ease the strain and monotony of life in a fallout shelter. A bottle of 100 should be sufficient for a family of four. Tranquilizers are not a narcotic, and are not habit-forming.
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Connections

Features Duck and Cover (1952) See more »

Soundtracks

Pictures at an Exhibition
Written by Modest Mussorgsky
Performed by Charles Mackerras conducting the The Philharmonia Orchestra (as the New Philharmonia Orchestra)
Courtesy of Vanguard Recording Society, Inc.
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User Reviews

 
Documentary, w/o latter day interpretation
28 April 2003 | by elwinterSee all my reviews

I saw The Atomic Cafe in a theater when it was first released. Someone exclaimed derogatorily as they walked out on it. But I thought it was brilliant. Sort of a sub-genre of documentary, this one had no commentary, narrative or explanations for the material presented. No retroactive interviews with those who were there. It relied 100% on archival materials.

A few years back, I visited the Trinity Site (here in New Mexico) on the 50th anniversary of the first test of the bomb. Quite a few of those who were somehow involved back then and still living turned up for the event. So I did get to hear some hindsight comments. Definitely different than what was being said back then, and such commentary could have really changed the picture.

This is a rare approach, and therefore thought provoking. One can argue that the choice of material, editing and music track impose some interpretation, and there may be something to that. Although it's unlikely that one could turn the story into something really different unless latter-day, hindsight interviews were added to provide a different spin.

Being a "Baby Boomer", I was born during the times depicted in the movie, and have some early memories of them. For those who were alive in that time, it's fascinating to see how it tweaks your memory. I, for one, didn't think deep thoughts about the "duck and cover" drills at school - it was just another thing that got us out of our seats, like fire drills and recess. But it does tweak memory, to bring back things not thought of for many years. Interesting to consider how one's own memory is incomplete, wanders, can be influenced, etc. (Now, re-read Orwell's 1984.)

Brilliant, and disturbing. Interesting to consider in light of current events (spring 2003).


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 October 1982 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

The Atomic Cafe See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$300,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,098, 5 August 2018

Gross USA:

$22,293

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$22,293
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Company Credits

Production Co:

The Archives Project See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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