Movie Review: The Atomic Cafe


I don’t know about you, but that outfit wouldn’t suit me. Too lifeless and intimidating. I’m sure some decals or stripes would make it more fashionable. Then again, I wouldn’t know.

Using original archive footage from films and themed music, we get a grim view into the attitudes of the atomic age.

For the time this documentary was made, the shorts and newsreels could be found in libraries or in abandoned storage areas. Now, there are whole YouTube channels dedicated to this kind of content and DVDs of atomic-era shorts (I happen to own one). From today’s standpoint, this could easily pass as a YouTube playlist without the ads every few seconds.

The movie has been described as “darkly humorous”. I expected it to reach levels of Dr. Strangelove; not so much, though it does end in a similar fashion. It’s rather dry until an hour in when we see children and young adults discussing what to do. Duck and cover. Duck and cover. Duck and cover. Duck and cover. Duck and cover. The information presented is a product of the time. Sure, we know better now but not so back then.

Speaking of duck and cover, the eponymous short is featured.



I found it entertaining and horrifying at the same time. The fact that the bomb can drop at any moment and that this precaution practically does nothing for long-term side effects. Besides, what are the odds that you’ll have to protect yourself from monkeys with dynamite on fishing poles? At least it has a somewhat catchy tune.

Now, it could replace The War Game on the 1001 list in terms of content and style. But is it enough? Probably not. If this kind of thing interests you, you can find it online. Otherwise, it’s a curious history lesson.



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