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The Atomic Cafe (Collector's Edition) (2008)

Dwight D. Eisenhower , Richard Nixon , Jayne Loader , Kevin Rafferty  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)

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DVD 1-Disc Version $16.96  
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The Atomic Cafe (Collector's Edition) + America's Atomic Bomb Tests - The Collection + Trinity and Beyond - The Atomic Bomb Movie (Full Screen)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan
  • Directors: Jayne Loader, Kevin Rafferty, Pierce Rafferty
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Collector's Edition, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: November 25, 2008
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001B1Q3FS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #278,422 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Atomic Cafe (Collector's Edition)" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

On its 20-year anniversary, and not a moment too soon, THE ATOMIC CAFÉ is back to provide us with a much needed release of comic energy. A dark comedy in the truest sense, this timeless classic took the nation by storm when it first debuted in theaters in 1982. A chilling, provocative, and often hilarious reminder of cold-war era paranoia in the United States, THE ATOMIC CAFE reveals a defining period of 20th century history, artfully presented through a collage of newsreel footage, government archives, military training films, and fifties music. Profoundly shocking and perversely topical, THE ATOMIC CAFÉ craftily captures a panicked nation, offering a fascinating and witty account of life during the atomic age and resulting cold war, when fall-out shelters, duck-and-cover drills, and government propaganda were all a part of our social consciousness. Regarded by critics as a nuclear REEFER MADNESS and likened to Stanley Kubric's DR. STRANGELOVE, this profoundly shocking and highly amusing film is a stunner, a gripping account of an unforgettable era and an indisputable must-see for all Americans.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Teach Your Children Well December 12, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
This review is directed primarily to the under 30's who are still trying to figure out the boomer generation. As one savvy reviewer here surmised, this film goes a long way into explaining the psychological behavior of boomers who actually were instructed by well-meaning nuns (in my case)or other elementary and high school teachers to practice ducking beneath their desks in the event of a nuclear strike. As the wit, Dave Barry, points out, the stucture of wood and minimal steel was no doubt designed as a carefully-constructed safeguard against nuclear annihilation by the brain trust that was guiding the civil defense system of the era. Other such gross anomalies are addressed in this film.
In this case, the idea of looking back provides some comic relief, but I for one, can tell you, that when the sirens were going off every other day back in 1962-63, we didn't regard it as all that funny. Read the Amazon reviewer's take above, then invest some money in purchasing this film. It is a great document that depicts a serious subject in a lighthearted manner, yet the underlying message is timeless. It should come shipped with the caveat: "Lest we forget."
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Movie - 5 Stars - DVD - 3 Stars - Average - 4 Stars April 25, 2002
Before Peter Kuran and his special effects magic on old atomic films, there was "The Atomic Café." It's a psuedo-documentary (it's all pieces of old Civil Defense, nuclear testing, and government films cobbled together, with some newsreel footage to boot) by Jayne Loader and Kevin Rafferty (George W. Bush's cousin, who later added his talents to a little production called "Roger and Me.") The humor is dark (and funny) only in retrospect, as "The Atomic Café" explores some of the most insidious and stupid moments of the cold war.
It starts with the Manhattan Project and the effects of the Bomb on Japan, and segues right into the Rosenberg's trial and the insanity of McCarthyism. Next, you have the famous "duck and cover" films along with lesser-known civil defense stuff, including fallout shelter plans and so forth. There is little narration, and what you hear, comes from the Rosenberg's testimony, army technicians explaining how radiation can be avoided (yeah, right) and the viewer's own common sense, saying, "man, we really believed this hogwash once, and it helped us sleep better at night."
This new DVD presentation gives us the film in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, with a two-channel stereo soundtrack. The print is decent, but as none of these old films were restored before compilation, there is grain and color loss throughout, but it's a problem with the source material, not the DVD itself (this is how Atomic Café was supposed to look). The sound is the biggest disappointment: Kuran was kind enough to give his Atomic films a dynamic 5.1 DD soundtrack, and Atomic Café sounds more like a radio broadcast than a DVD. Plus, there are zero extras to speak of. Normally, extras do not make a DVD (how many times are you going to watch them, anyway?
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars America Adapts to a Nuclear World -- on film... May 2, 2002
The Atomic Cafe is a cult classic Cold War documentary, focusing on the development and deployment of nuclear weapons from the perspective of the U.S. in 1982. Some of the footage of nuclear detonations is breath-taking, especially when placed into the perspective of the time.
The Atomic Cafe does a masterful job of weaving together news reports, government information films, public service announcements and dramas from World War II right up through the Cold War of 1982. It's interesting to watch the sometimes frightening, sometimes naive and sometimes even humorous moments that illustrate the American culture adapting to a world in which it had the ultimate destructive power (the atomic bomb), then lost the edge over the menacing Soviet Union, then developed an even more powerful weapon (the hydrogren bomb) and then saw the Soviets catch up yet again.
Some of the moments in the documentary are just classic, thanks to great footage but even more, awesome editing. For instance, one part shows a man looking at a newspaper and he says "well, at least we don't have to worry. We're the ones with the bomb!" Then there is a cut to someone stating that the Soviets now have the bomb.
Then there is the naivety: Another part shows an Army officer briefing a company of soldiers who will be deployed into a nuclear area shortly after a test detonation. He tells them that there is this "new" threat called "radiation", but that they won't have to worry about it too much. They then show these soldiers in their trenches immediately after the detonation and they stand up to see, while radioactive dirt and debris whooshes over them. A news reporter asks one of the soldiers: "Did you close your mouth?" The soldier answers, laughing: "No, I got a mouthful!"
If anything, the Atomic Cafe is a stark reminder of where we've been. It'll definitely be something interesting for my children to watch someday.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, sobering, shocking, pacifist October 26, 2003
With a clever montage of 1940s/1950s news clips and Civil Defense and military training films overlaid with off-beat contemporary songs about The Bomb, the creators of THE ATOMIC CAFE produced a film that will amaze the post-Cold War generation and cause those who lived during that period to ask, "Could that be us?"
This docu-drama begins with the Trinity atomic test blast in New Mexico in 1945, then proceeds through the annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the subsequent atomic test at Bikini atoll. With the acquisition of the A-bomb by the Soviets in 1949 - my birth year - and the Korean War, the film gets into the meat of the piece, which is a visual commentary on the paranoia about the Red Menace and Nuclear Armageddon which gripped the United States during Eisenhower's two terms as President.
THE ATOMIC CAFE is alternately funny, sobering, and shocking. Funny, as when Kruschev and Nixon verbally joust in a comedic Tricky Dick and Nicky routine during the former's visit to the States. And the training films depicting citizens, singly and in large groups, on the streets and in schools, doing the "duck and cover" drill in response to the hypothetical Big One. Sobering, as when a priest discusses the merits of excluding non-family members from your personal bomb shelter. (In a departure from Christian charity, he was all for it.) Or the message given to Army troops assigned to the near vicinity of test explosions, which was that in a real atomic war it would be the blast that kills them, not the radiation. And shocking, as when we see the disfiguring burns and blisters affecting the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the pigs exposed to subsequent test detonations in the desert Southwest.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking back on what we believed was the harmless "show ...
Looking back on what we believed was the harmless "show," of experiments with exploding nuclear weapons, we are horrified at the cavalier way in which military treated its... Read more
Published 21 hours ago by S.Z. M.
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars, yep
I give this 5 stars, but don't expect a narrated, organized film, because this isn't.

This is a somewhat haphazard collection of snippets from the 40s and 50s re: the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Constitutional Lawyer
5.0 out of 5 stars Duck and Cover
Very nostalgic movie, a collection of cold-war short films by Civil Defense and US Army, and News Reels. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Nuclear Me
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great for the class "The Cold War through film"
Published 1 month ago by Kenneth Plough II
5.0 out of 5 stars Over and over, hilarious and a learning experience
I used to play this at the beginning of each year for students in my science classes. I told them to always question authority, and that is science. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jbeegoode
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good and wonderful service from dealer.
Published 2 months ago by Mary S. Prudent
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good documentary showing old footage of us public acceptance of...
Very good documentary showing old footage of us public acceptance of atomic and hydrogen bomb weapons and why had to have them back then.
Published 3 months ago by Robert Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny
I recommend all young people watch this movie . I say this so they can see how stupid our government was and still is . Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jack Stoner
3.0 out of 5 stars A good history lesson
This is a good lesson in the history of the late 1940's and 50's. It's a good teaching tool. If you do buy the video do this. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Michael John Kennedy
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing at times
The clips from speeches, etc., are kind of funny, but it makes me wonder at how gullible our government thought we were!
Published 8 months ago by Pamlet
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