The Beginning or the End tells its portentous tale in broad strokes of masterful scripting and production. Picture tees off with a pseudo news clip, showing the burying of a time capsule, not to be opened until A.D. 2446. In the time capsule is placed a motion picture film which records The Beginning or the End. Thereafter is unfolded the nearly two-hour picture.
It brings an appreciation of how science and big business were mobilized by America to achieve the Atomic Bomb even though President Roosevelt was told it would cost a billion dollars and possibly two billion; the mobilization of big business and stout young scientists to work with their more experienced elders; the rallying around Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer (whom Hume Cronyn expertly impersonates); the questioning by young Tom Drake whether he was doing the right thing.
Brian Donlevy is capital as Gen Groves, eclipsed only by Godfrey Tearle’s extraordinary personation of President Roosevelt.
It’s to the sum credit of everybody concerned that the documentary values are sufficiently there without becoming static.