8.9/10
77
9 user 1 critic

Radium City (1987)

This documentary concerns the women who fell victim to radium poisoning in Ottawa, Illinois during the 1920s. The women worked painting radium on the dials of clocks and would wet the tips ... See full summary »

Director:

Carole Langer
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Cast

Credited cast:
Marie Becker Rossiter Marie Becker Rossiter ... Self
Charlotte Nevins Purcell Charlotte Nevins Purcell ... Self
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Storyline

This documentary concerns the women who fell victim to radium poisoning in Ottawa, Illinois during the 1920s. The women worked painting radium on the dials of clocks and would wet the tips of the paintbrushes with their tongues. Interviews with survivors from the industrial tragedy relate their experiences of the poisoning and the bureaucratic nightmare they were forced to contend with in seeking compensation and justice. Environmental concerns are raised, but the ambiguity surrounding the death toll is evident by a lack of death certificates and medical opinions. The feature relies on the sympathy the viewer feels for the victims of the preventable tragedy.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

User Reviews

 
a chilling tale of the folly of mankind, a deadly naiveté
5 December 2002 | by billmarrsSee all my reviews

Though dry at times, this documentary slowly puts the pieces together on a chilling tale of the folly of mankind. Beautiful young girls are exposed to radiation, wholly unaware of the consequences. Eerie group pictures of the young women who worked at the Westclock factory, painting radioactive paint on the dials of their clocks will haunt you after you view this cautionary tale. Their happy demeanors and bright smiles mock the reality of them all dying of cancer in short order afterward. Memorable moments in the film include a description of the women clock painters using their tongues to sharpen the point of their paintbrushes (used to paint the radioactive Radium on the dials of the clocks) and a Geiger counter used over the graves of some of the dead women, clicking away madly. One is left with a sense of the duality of the US's golden age during the 1950's; both filled with wonder and joy and a deadly technological naiveté.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 April 2015 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Radium City See more »

Filming Locations:

Ottawa, Illinois, USA

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono
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