The Atomic Cafe (1982) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Atomic Cafe (1982)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Atomic Cafe Photos

Movie Info

This film recounts a defining period of 20th century history and serves as a chilling and often hilarious reminder of cold-war era paranoia in the United States--artfully presented through a collage of newsreel footage, government archives, military training films, and fifties music.

Watch it now


Critic Reviews for The Atomic Cafe

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (2)

The film fails to offer even the barest social context for its material.

February 9, 2006 | Full Review…

Deserves national attention.

August 30, 2004 | Full Review…

This poignant, often funny docu consists of revelatory clips used by the government as propaganda about the Atomic Bomb.

January 8, 2013 | Rating: B | Full Review…

One of the most trenchant, bitter and horrific looks at the 'atomic' and Cold War era.

August 4, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

The film is not completely fair but it does convey a reasonably accurate sense of one aspect of the social consciousness following the War

July 21, 2006 | Rating: 3/5

Shocking, sobering, hilarious and insightful. You'll never look at nuclear war the same way!

July 26, 2002 | Rating: 5/5

Audience Reviews for The Atomic Cafe


This is easily the most bizarre documentary I've ever seen. Most documentaries use interviews, have a host who guides people through the film (example, Morgan Spurlock in "Super-Size Me"), and have some form a commentary with a narrator. "The Atomic Cafe" is very different. This film is made up entirely of newsreels and propaganda films to tell the story of the world after the atomic bomb and the paranoia of the Cold War. The only alterations the film makers have made is some editing and subtitles so we know who the people are. That's it. The rest is up to the viewer to gather for themselves. I know a lot about this period in history and some of the footage in this is almost as funny as it is disturbing. For example, a happy kids film with a cartoon turtle mascot who cheerfully reminds us "When you see the flash, remember, duck and cover, duck and cover, duck and cover!" If you want to kill an hour and a half, give this a shot. It can get a bit slow at times, but its definitely worth watching.

Jacob Ethington
Jacob Ethington

Super Reviewer

great document of the paranoia of the nuclear age with some of the blackest humor possible. made entirely from archival footage of atomic blasts, scary news reports and pretty hilarious civil defense propaganda full of misinformation. there are some upsetting scenes of blast victims as well. this would make a great double bill with strangelove

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

The Atomic Cafe Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss The Atomic Cafe on our Movie forum!

News & Features