Fat Man and Little Boy

The problems of this historical drama about the creation of the atom bomb are crystalized in its title. 'Fat Man' and 'Little Boy' were the nicknames given to the bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These names aren't mentioned by any of the characters in the film, nor do the bombings figure in the action.

With:
Paul Newman Dwight Schultz Bonnie Bedelia John Cusack Laura Dern Natasha Richardson

The problems of this historical drama about the creation of the atom bomb are crystalized in its title. ‘Fat Man’ and ‘Little Boy’ were the nicknames given to the bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These names aren’t mentioned by any of the characters in the film, nor do the bombings figure in the action.

Film concentrates instead on Gen. Groves (Paul Newman), the man assigned to oversee the project, and J. Robert Oppenheimer (Dwight Schultz), the brilliant scientist with far-left-to- all-out-communist connections picked to lead it. This is all well and good, except that few dramatic sparks fly.

Newman has no trouble bringing the tough-talking ‘can do’ general to life. The trouble is the scriptwriters have no interest in exploring the man behind the mission.

This tends to tilt the dramatic balance toward Oppenheimer. The film falls short here, too, partially because of Schultz’ lackluster performance, but primarily because the script fails to give a clue to what made this man tick.

Fat Man and Little Boy

Production: Light motive/Paramount. Director Roland Joffe; Producer Tony Garnett; Screenplay Bruce Robinson, Roland Joffe; Camera Vilmos Zsigmond; Editor Francoise Bonnot; Music Ennio Morricone; Art Director Gregg Fonseca

Crew: (Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1989. Running time: 126 MIN.

With: Paul Newman Dwight Schultz Bonnie Bedelia John Cusack Laura Dern Natasha Richardson

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