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Fat Man and Little Boy (1989)

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

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... General Leslie R. Groves
... J. Robert Oppenheimer
... Kitty Oppenheimer
... Michael Merriman
... Kathleen Robinson
Ron Frazier ... Peer de Silva
... Richard Schoenfield
... Jean Tatlock
... Jamie Latrobe
Michael Brockman ... William 'Deke' Parsons
Del Close ... Dr. Kenneth Whiteside
... Robert Tuckson
... Franz Goethe (as Alan Corduner)
... Seth Neddermeyer (as Joseph D'Angerio)
Jon DeVries ... Johnny Mount (as Jon De Vries)
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Storyline

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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Taglines:

The story of the extraordinary people who changed our world.


Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

20 October 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Schattenmacher  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,476,994, 20 October 1989, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$3,563,162
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Some movie posters for the film featured a long text preamble that read: "In 1942, the United States secretly set out to build the world's first atomic bombs. They called them 'Fat Man' and 'Little Boy.' And the man they called on to get the job done was General Leslie Groves. Strong. Brilliant. Determined. Willing to push human endurance to the limit. Willing to bear the responsibility, the glory and the blame. His mission changed the world. His story is the story of his times. And ours." See more »

Goofs

The Battle of the Philippines ended on 8 May 1942, with the Allied surrender of the Philippines to Japan. By that point, US soldiers stationed in the Philippines were either evacuated off the islands, POWs in a Japanese prison camps, missing in action, or killed in action. Nearly a year later, in April 1943, John Cusack's character, Michael Merriman, arrives in Los Alamos. Shortly afterwards, he writes to his Dad that "I think of Jimmy, fighting in the Philippines". Later, when he mets Laura Dern's character, Nurse Kathleen Robinson, he explains that he has a brother, who "is a solider". By April 1943, it seems unlikely that Merriman would call his brother Jimmy "a solider" if he were a POW, missing in action, or dead. If Merriman's brother had been evacuated off the Philippines, it is unlikely that Merriman would say Jimmy is "fighting in the Philippines", rather than the past tense, or saying that he is now fighting a different battle, or "fighting the Pacific" or "fighting against the Japanese", etc. See more »

Quotes

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

Brown Jug Swing
Written by Joseph Winner (as J.E. Winner)
Arranged by Garnett Brown
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User Reviews

 
The Challenge Of The Problem
17 February 2008 | by See all my reviews

Fat Man And Little Boy were the code names of the two atomic bombs that were dropped in reverse order on Nagasaki and Hiroshina. How these came to be and came to be in American hands is the story of this film.

The terms by the way are the code names of two bombs fueled with plutonium and uranium. Fat Man was the plutonium bomb and that one was dropped on Nagasaki and Little Boy was the one used on Hiroshima

The film is primarily a conflict between General Leslie R. Groves of the United States Army and physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer who led the team of scientists who developed the bomb under Groves's direction. With two men from as widely divergent backgrounds as these were, conflict was inevitable.

Paul Newman who all his life has been a disarmament activist plays General Groves. To his credit Newman does not play a man whose views he would very little in common with as any kind of caricature. Groves is a military man first and foremost with an engineering background. He wanted a combat command as trained military professionals would naturally want in this greatest of wars. But because of his background in engineering Groves got to head the Manhattan Project which was what the effort was code named. So be it, Newman is determined to make his contribution to the war effort count.

Most of us first became acquainted with Dwight Schultz from the A-Team as H.M. Murdoch the pilot whose grip on reality is tenuous at best. If one was only acquainted with the A-Team, one might think that Schultz had a great future in comic roles.

Instead Dwight Schultz is one of the best actors in the English speaking world with an astonishing range of dramatic parts since leaving that television series. J. Robert Oppenheimer in life was a complex man who recognized the dangers and benefits of atomic energy. The challenge of the problem also intrigues him. Later on Oppenheimer got into a real bind because of his left-wing political views and associates which everyone knew walking into the Manhattan Project.

Some of the lesser roles that stand out are Bonnie Bedelia as Mrs. Oppenheimer, Natasha Richardson as Oppenheimer's Communist mistress whose affair with Oppenheimer got him in such a jackpot later on, and Laura Dern as a nurse at the Los Alamos site.

But the best is John Cusack who as Michael Merriman is a composite of some real life scientists who might accurately be labeled as the first casualties of the atomic age. His scenes with Laura Dern, especially with what happens to him, take on a real poignancy.

The debate over the bombs as the use put to them is still a matter of raging debate. Fat Man And Little Boy presents the facts and lets you decide what might have happened if an alternative use of them had been taken.


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