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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shhh... Don't tell
"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...
Published on November 5, 2006 by thecableguy

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43 of 50 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing
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...
Published on June 20, 2007 by Dan Edwards


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43 of 50 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing, June 20, 2007
This review is from: Fat Man and Little Boy (DVD)
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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48 of 58 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mostly Fiction, April 14, 2003
By 
Tony (Moorpark, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Meledramatic and poor, July 27, 2006
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This review is from: Fat Man and Little Boy (DVD)
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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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fat Man and Little Boy, December 27, 2006
This review is from: Fat Man and Little Boy (DVD)
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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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shhh... Don't tell, November 5, 2006
This review is from: Fat Man and Little Boy (DVD)
"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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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disapponting, April 15, 2007
By 
Dr Tathata (Omphalos, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fat Man and Little Boy (DVD)
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An emotionally moving historical novel, January 12, 2005
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This review is from: Fat Man and Little Boy (DVD)
"The world is not what we wanted it to be." So says Dr. Oppenheimer to his wife, late in the film. Oppenheimer's optimism and scientific idealism are only one small casualty of the pursuit of the atomic bomb; we see several others through the course of the film. The fears of that time -- especially of Communism -- cause Oppenheimer's own credibility to be always in doubt in the eyes of the military, and his Communist-sympathizing mistress almost inevitably becomes another casualty of these forces.

The scientist Michael Merriman (actually a composite of a few real-life characters; try looking up "Louis Slotin" in your favorite search engine) asks whether it is more instinctive in humans to save life or to destroy it. This becomes one of the central themes of the film. Merriman twice heroically saves the lives of others, but the second time receives a lethal exposure to radiation himself in the process. I have read comments in other reviews that Merriman's (fictional) romance with a nurse at the base hospital was unnecessary and too contrived, but I think that this sort of dramatic element helps provide an emotional context for the bomb's direct and indirect victims; also, Merriman's ultimately tragic romance parallels that of Oppenheimer with his "security-risk" mistress.

This film touches on many of the issues of the creation of the atomic bomb: the logistical challenges, the personal and moral and political challenges. These multiple issues are treated more or less equally, and none is really treated in depth at the expense of the others. Some viewers may regard this lack of depth as a liability, but I think the overall balance is good.

The dramatic quality (acting, writing, etc.) of the film is also generally good, with a few faults. (There is the occasional bit of weak dialogue, but honestly, for my part, I did not find the few less-than-stellar lines distracting when I saw the film the first time, and neither do they leap out at me when I watch it again now. Some people may be more irritated by that sort of thing than I.) Oppenheimer (Dwight Schultz) and General Groves (Paul Newman) are both very strong in their roles, and they naturally are the ones who would make or break the movie.

So, overall, I think that this film is a good film. I don't mean that to sound flippant. I mean that it is a good story, a good drama, one that captures the emotional tensions, fears, and moral doubts of the period. What it is definitely NOT is a historically-accurate documentary, but I don't think it was ever trying to be. Documentaries are certainly important too, but they are plentiful and easily had elsewhere. (Try the History Channel or your local library.) In some ways, Fat Man and Little Boy resembles the blockbuster movie Pearl Harbor, which also fictionalized quite a bit to show the emotional impact of the historical events on the people involved.

Fat Man and Little Boy is a film I personally own, enjoy and recommend.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A-Team to A- Bomb, December 3, 2002
By A Customer
To some, the film FAT MAN AND LITTLE BOY is somewhat of an oddity. It stars Dwight Schultz (just a few years after the demise of the TV series The A-Team) in a high profile role as J. Robert Oppenheimer opposite Paul Newman as General Leslie R. Groves in a retelling of the Manhatten Project. Taking certain liberties with the historical information, and taking the preachiness of the subject matter not too over the top, it is a decent and entertaining film about the political and moral nature of the making of the atomic bomb and it's eventual use to end WWII. It has a great supporting cast with John Cusack, Laura Dern, Bonnie Bedelia, Natasha Richardson,(Senator)Fred Thomspson (Die Hard II),and John McGinley (Platoon, Office Space, tv's SCRUB'S). Surprising good performance by Dwight Schultz who shook off his comical "Howling Mad Murdoch / A-Team" persona and do this straight dramatic role and play off scenes with screen legend Paul Newman.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Eve of Destruction, October 1, 2008
By 
This review is from: Fat Man and Little Boy (DVD)
"Fat Man and Little Boy" takes a human look at the history behind the making of the atomic bomb. It has a superb ensemble cast- with the late Paul Newman as Gen. Leslie Groves, Dwight Schultz as Robert Oppenheimer, Jon Cusak as a scientist, and Natasha Richardson as Oppenheimer's Russian mistress. The movie avoids passing judgment on the Manhattan Project. Was it necessary for winning WWII, or was it human meddling with powers beyond their reach? What is the relationship between science and morality, especially in wartime?

"Fat Man and Little Boy" powerfully shows the isolation of the Manhattan Project in the midst of the New Mexico desert. Los Alamos and the Trinity site are, to this day, "desert solitaire" to quote the late naturalist Edward Abbey. There is the land and the sky-- and not much else. The movie is claustrophobic,in a sense, even in the wide open spaces that are pure void.

One of the standout incidents is the scientist who dies from radiation poisoning. It's harrowing to watch. It's terrifying, realizing how a little dose of nuclear power can cause a painful, awful death.

Schultz is great as the conflicted Oppenheimer,who sees himself as "Vishnu, destroyer of worlds" at Trinity. Newman is equally great as the gruff, abrupt Groves,who has a strong sense of duty. "Fat Man and Little Boy" is much character studies as it as a re-enactment of historical incidents.

Paul Newman will be remembered as one of the greatest actors of our time. He brought nobility and masculinity to the silver screen. He shone as a luminary in the movies-- as well as a humanitarian. His charitable efforts will be among his legacies. Rest in peace.
RIP Paul Newman (1925-2008)
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great movie, April 15, 2007
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This review is from: Fat Man and Little Boy (DVD)
Very nice and entertaining movie overall. General Groves is masterfully played by Paul Newman, and Oppenheimer is also very well roled, but rest of important people were left out. Not much of a good portrait of mahattan project either; the movie only focuses on Los Alamos, living Oak Ridge, Hanford, Tinian and Hiroshima/Nagasaki out. Anyway it has place in my classics list.
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Fat Man and Little Boy
Fat Man and Little Boy by Roland Joffé (DVD - 2004)
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