This film reenacts the Manhattan Project, the secret wartime project in New Mexico where the first atomic bombs were designed and built.


Roland Joffé


Bruce Robinson (story), Bruce Robinson (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
2 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Newman ... General Leslie R. Groves
Dwight Schultz ... J. Robert Oppenheimer
Bonnie Bedelia ... Kitty Oppenheimer
John Cusack ... Michael Merriman
Laura Dern ... Kathleen Robinson
Ron Frazier Ron Frazier ... Peer de Silva
John C. McGinley ... Richard Schoenfield
Natasha Richardson ... Jean Tatlock
Ron Vawter ... Jamie Latrobe
Michael Brockman Michael Brockman ... William 'Deke' Parsons
Del Close ... Dr. Kenneth Whiteside
John Considine ... Robert Tuckson
Allan Corduner ... Franz Goethe (as Alan Corduner)
Joe D'Angerio ... Seth Neddermeyer (as Joseph D'Angerio)
Jon DeVries Jon DeVries ... Johnny Mount (as Jon De Vries)


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

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The story of the extraordinary people who changed our world.


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


According to website Wikipedia, "the story of the second accident involving the demon core (entitled "Risky Radiation") was featured in an episode of Dark Matters: Twisted But True (2011) [Season 2, Episode 4], and the first accident [was also] mentioned" [See: Dark Matters: Twisted But True: Amnesiac, Party Poopers, Risky Radiation (2012)]. See more »


In September 1942, we see Oppenheimer driving a yellow car. However, gas rationing began in May 1942 and vehicles had to have a sticker that entitled the driver to buy gas. Oppenheimer's car has no gas rationing sticker. See more »


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


Referenced in Parker Lewis Can't Lose: Fat Boy and Little Man (1991) See more »


Brown Jug Swing
Written by Joseph Winner (as J.E. Winner)
Arranged by Garnett Brown
See more »

User Reviews

Good, but could have been better
23 April 2000 | by anniescribeSee all my reviews

Out of five stars, I would give "Fat Man and Little Boy" three. One reviewer who said they had watched this for chemistry class commented the history was good but the acting wasn't strong. I will agree the history was fascinating, and that the acting appeared not to be strong. However, I saw the script itself as being the problem, not the actors -- Paul Newman, Dwight Schultz, John Cusack, Laura Dern -- all were excellent insofar as the script allowed them to be. My feeling is the scriptwriter tried to capture too much all at once and cram it into a two-hour movie. It tried to tell the story of how the Manhattan Project affected not only American policy but also the personal lives of those involved, but instead of adopting an intimate atmosphere in which to do this, it went for broad, broken strokes. To me, it was just too ambitious for one movie -- the Manhattan Project is not like the sinking of the Titanic, a tragedy that happened in one night; it was a long, arduous process that sapped brain power and spirit from the people who had the knowledge of how to tap atomic energy, but also the conscience to worry what would be done with it once they did.

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USA | Mexico



Release Date:

20 October 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Fat Man and Little Boy See more »

Filming Locations:

USA See more »


Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,476,994, 22 October 1989

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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