The atomic bomb changed the world forever, and this wonderful film shows how Americans expressed wonder over atomic weapons and then suffered from the pervasive fear that America would be on the receiving end of a Soviet nuclear attack. Atomic Cafe is a brilliant compilation of archival film clips beginning with the first atomic bomb detonation in the New Mexico desert. The footage, much of it produced as government propaganda, follows the story of the bomb through the two atomic attacks on Japan that ended World War II to the bomb's central role in the cold war. Shown along with the famous "duck and cover" Civil Defense films are lesser-known clips, many of which possess a bizarre black humor when seen today, and it's easy to see why this film, which was produced in the early 1980s, became a cult classic sometimes referred to as the "nuclear Reefer Madness." Bellicose congressmen are shown advocating a freewheeling policy of nuclear strikes against China during the Korean War, suburban families are shown enjoying the comforts of their bomb shelters, and footage of a boy trying to bicycle to a bomb shelter in a "bomb survival suit" his father designed is priceless. Atomic Cafe is at once clever and poignant, a canny and offbeat look at a significant period in American history. --Robert J. McNamara
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