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Fat Man and Little Boy (1989)

Paul Newman , Dwight Schultz , Roland Joffé  |  PG-13 |  DVD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)

Price: $15.49 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Fat Man and Little Boy + Day One + The Day After Trinity
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Product Details

  • Actors: Paul Newman, Dwight Schultz, Bonnie Bedelia, John Cusack, Laura Dern
  • Directors: Roland Joffé
  • Writers: Roland Joffé, Bruce Robinson
  • Producers: John Calley, Kimberly Cooper, Tony Garnett
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Subtitled, Widescreen, Surround Sound, Digital Sound, NTSC
  • Language: English, French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: April 27, 2004
  • Run Time: 127 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001EQIJC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,241 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Fat Man and Little Boy" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Fat Man and Little Boy (a.k.a. Shadow Makers in the UK) is a 1989 film that reenacts the Manhattan Project, the secret Allied endeavor to develop the first nuclear weapons during World War II. The film is named after the weapons "Fat Man" and "Little Boy" detonated over Nagasaki and Hiroshima, respectively. The code names, originally Fat Man and Thin Man, were drawn from characters in the works of Dashiell Hammett. However, there's a possible secondary allusion to stout project director Gen. Leslie Groves and the slim scientific director, Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer. The film focuses much attention on the frequently strained relationship between the two men. The film was directed by Roland Joffe and written by Joffe and Bruce Robinson.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 46 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing June 20, 2007
As much as I admire Paul Newman, this film is so terribly flawed that even his presence can't salvage it. The Manhattan Project is such a critical juncture in recent history that I think it's very important that the story be told realistically. This film is 90% Hollywood formula and 10% history. Only in the broadest brushstrokes does this movie give the viewer any kind of concept of that monumental undertaking. Do yourself a BIG favor; watch the far superior (and very accurate) "Day One" instead. In all respects, it is a much better account and much more interesting film. The main characters are presented as scientists, engineers, and military officers, not goofballs and nutty professors, as they are in "Fat Man and Little Boy."
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47 of 57 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mostly Fiction April 14, 2003
By Tony
Format:VHS Tape
Yes, there was a Manhattan Project and people named Groves, Oppenheimer and Szilard and yes Leo Szilard did like to spend as much time in the bath tub as possible (thinking) but other than that, this film was largely fictional. I was bothered by the historical inaccuracies including: 1. Groves met Szilard at the University of Chicago along with the rest of the scientists that worked there, not in a bathroom in Szilards hotel with Szilard in a tub and Groves on a toilet. 2. The Manhattan Project was much bigger than Los Alamos and Groves dealt with two other major groups that are mostly not even depicted. 3. Groves and Oppenheimer had a very different and more cooperative relationship than is depicted in the movie. 4. Groves was not subject to temper tantrums like Newman's depiction. He was actually very quiet, but extremely sarcastic, socially awkward, pear shaped and somewhat arrogant. He was also smart as a tack, having attended both MIT and West Point, where he was fourth in his class. He created three cities that are now major cities in their states and an industry bigger than the U.S. Automobile industry in just over three years. This was no dummy.
A more accurate movie is "Day One", at least as far as the plot goes, but even that fails to grasp the Manhattan Project's scope. The best film on it, which unfortunately no longer exists, was "The Beginning or the End" which was made in 1946 (Brian Donlevy played Groves). The main people on the project served as technical advisors for that one. Unfortunately, that was never put on video and probably rotted away in some warehouse.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fat Man and Little Boy December 27, 2006
Overall, I found this to be a fairly good movie, but I just can't stand it when fictitious characters (ie, Michael Merriman (played by John Cusack)) are worked into a plot--usually in an effort to create a love-interest aspect--in order to make the movie more palatible to a general audience. Sorry, but this is a fascinating story in its own right and shouldn't be marred in this way. Fortunately, the complexities of the issues surrounding the creation on The Bomb are addressed, but I think the treatment what the motivations for the individual scientists were left much to be desired.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Meledramatic and poor July 27, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
As much as I like Paul Newman, this movie is very disappointing once you've seen the far-superior film "Day One". The portrayal of Oppenheimer and Groves is overly dramatic and totally unlike the behavior of real professional people. The movie dwells on romantic side stories instead of fleshing out the history and science of the Manhatten project.

Be sure to see "Day One" if you are interested in this, and give this film a miss.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disapponting April 15, 2007
This is such an important story, with layer upon layer upon layer of aspects of the modern realities ushered in by the Manhattan Project. C.P Snow in his famous essay regarding The Two Cultures raises implications about the way that the humanities department trains young minds relative to the science and engineering department. If the military approached a group of leading poets and declared that poetry possessed a potential they wanted to transform into a super weapon--how would the poets have responded? Posing a similar question to physicists, they all raced to the blackboard to be the first to solve the equation for the authorities.

So many issues, creativity, authority, diplomacy,secrecy, espionage, urgency...all provide the natural elements to a serious, gripping story. But this screenplay chooses to throw in silly romantic subplots, and alter the facts in the service of their silly Hollywood formula.Ughh. Especially annoying is the distortion of the circumstances surrounding the lab accident that befell Louis Slotkin, the Canadian, now morphed into a hybrid romantic figure in this puerile reworking of history. Maybe someday, someone will do the subject justice in a dramatic structure, until then the excellent documentary, 'The Day After Trinity' will have to suffice.

The screenplay illustrates the powerlessness of acting talent in the face of poor writing. Unfortunately, and maybe this is an inevitable remark, the film ends with a whimper, not a bang.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shhh... Don't tell November 5, 2006
"Fat Man and Little Boy" (a.k.a. "Shadow Makers") is a highly fictionalized account of the super secret Manhattan Project. I wish I had known that beforehand, since the reason I found the film so engaging is that I thought I was watching a painstakingly researched retelling -- something that preserves a moment in history for use as a cautionary tale for future generations of scientists and laymen. Then I find out they made the majority of this stuff up. I guess with Dwight Schultz, the guy who played Murdoch from "The A-Team" doing Robert Oppenheimer I should've known better. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt -- Tom Hanks used to be on "Bosom Buddies" and he went on to do "Apollo 18," which was a fairly faithful account of a real-life event, but such isn't the case here.

I give the film four stars for the good performances and the further research it inspired.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Hidden History
If there is one thing about 21st century video that rocks, it is exposing 20th century secrets. Ever wonder where that bomb came from? This is the story. Should we have done it? Read more
Published 8 days ago by Judith B. Hastings
4.0 out of 5 stars Historically pretty close.
This is a good story. I am teaching some nuclear fission and I am going to use this movie in my classroom.
Published 19 days ago by Catherine C Fraser
4.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
Good movie to show the development of the device during WW2. Like the WW2 movies specially when they are based on some truth.
Published 24 days ago by Nersi Pouya
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best movies about the bomb made
Great cast, well directed and top acting rounds out a great movie involving the Atomic Bombs. Pretty well truthful with a bit of Hollywood written in,
Published 1 month ago by Bank Of America
4.0 out of 5 stars Really good Paul Newman movie
Very interesting movie. Paul Newman was great. Really enjoyed watching. Would recommend for people who like Paul Newman and/or enjoy watching the history of events.
Published 2 months ago by Connie Kane
4.0 out of 5 stars IT'S A MOVIE NOT A DOCUMENTARY
This is a MOVIE not a documentary. As a movie I found it entertaining and informative. The acting is very solid and believable. Read more
Published 5 months ago by JohnBMWguy
4.0 out of 5 stars Good movie.
Good movie. A view of history, from a particular point of view. The moral dilemma that it raises is interesting.
Published 5 months ago by John L. Morton Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie
Not only the story of the Manhattan project to build the atomic bomb, but also a study of the two project leaders,General Groves and Robert Oppenheimer.
Published 5 months ago by Bob from Osher
5.0 out of 5 stars Accurate Portrayal of Actual History
I'm no movie critic, and I won't try to sound like one. What I can say is that I, personally was a part of the army nuclear weapons program for decades. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Clifford E. Hatfield
3.0 out of 5 stars It's not bad....
The movie drags on and the directing could have been better. It's entertaining on a Sunday afternoon but don't expect a great story.
Published 7 months ago by Paul Glickman
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