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The Atomic City

The Atomic City(1952)

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The working titles of this film were Los Alamos and Los Alamos Story. In June 1952, the picture opened in Los Angeles area theaters under the title 19 Elevado St., except for one theater, which screened it as The Atomic City. According to a June 4, 1952 Daily Variety item, Paramount used the title 19 Elevado St. in hopes that it would "generate grosses in keeping with the film's critical acclaim as a 'sleeper.'" On the East Coast, the film was released only as The Atomic City, and was copyrighted under that title. The film opens with voice-over narration and includes footage showing the daily operations of the Los Alamos, NM atomic energy plant. A title card announces that the faces of the plant's personnel have been "masked for security reasons." According to a July 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item, Paramount was the first Hollywood studio to receive permission from the Atomic Energy Commission to film inside the plant.
       The Atomic City marked Jerry Hopper's debut as a feature film director. Hopper previously had worked as an editor and had made training films for the U.S. Army during the war. Joe Esquibel, Russ Conway and Beverly Washburn were announced in Hollywood Reporter as cast members, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Although a Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Lydia Clarke, actor Charlton Heston's wife, was making her screen debut in the picture, she had previously appeared in a bit role in Julius Caesar, a 1950 16mm release made in the summer of 1949, starring Heston (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50). In addition to Los Alamos, location shooting took place in Santa Fe, NM, the nearby Puye Indian pueblo ruins, and at various sites in and around downtown Los Angeles. For his work on the film, Sydney Boehm received an Academy Award nomination in the Writing (Story and Screenplay) category.