The Atomic Cafe (The Archives Project, 1982). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

This classic montage of Cold War ephemera was one of the first things to whet my interest in the subject. There's no narration here––just clips from Cold War ephemera from the late 40s and early 50s strung together to create a fascinating portrait of the era. As far as I know, there are only two other films that are similar montages: Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? (about the Depression) and Swastika (about Nazi Germany) (though if anybody knows of any others, be sure to let me know!). The soundtrack contains lots of popular songs with Cold War and atomic themes, such as "Jesus Hits Like an Atom Bomb" or "Atomic Cocktail". There's tons of jaw-dropping moments here, such as the residents of St. George, Utah, who were accidentally hit with radioactive winds after a bomb test, being told to close their windows for an hour; the assertion that the native residents of Bikini Atoll welcomed having their island destroyed by an a-bomb test because it provided them with a break in their dull, drab routine; or the assertion that Japan may have to be hit with 4 or 5 atomic bombs before they will believe that the U.S. has such a weapon. There's so much stupidity here (we're told that the "simple" Bikini natives "know as little about the atom bomb as we do") that I'm amazed we didn't blow up the world back then. A must.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.

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