Day One (1989)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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This WW II-set drama follows the creation of the first atomic bomb.
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Written By:
In Theaters:
Worldvision Home Video

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Brian Dennehy
as Gen. Leslie Groves
David Strathairn
as J. Robert Oppenheimer
Michael Tucker (I)
as Leo Szilard
Hume Cronyn
as James F. Byrnes
Richard Dysart
as President Harry Truman
Barnard Hughes
as Secretary Stimson
Hal Holbrook
as Gen. George Marshall
John McMartin
as Dr. Arthur Compton
David Ogden Stiers
as President Roosevelt
Tony Shalhoub
as Enrico Fermi
Ron Frazier
as Col. Pash
Anne Twomey
as Kitty Oppenheimer
Olek Krupa
as Edward Teller
Peter Boretski
as Albert Einstein
Stefan Balint
as Eugen Wigner
Patrick Breen
as Richard Feynman
Vlasta Vrana
as Hans Bethe
George Popovich
as Samuel Goudsmit
Lorne Brass
as Klaus Fuchs
Michael Sinelnikoff
as Lord Rutherford
Graham Haley
as Haakon Chevalier
Timothy Webber
as Colonel Lansdale
David Gow
as Jack Wisnovsky
Isabelle Mejias
as Mrs. Trowbridge
Jonathan Wise
as Robert Serber
Tom Butler
as Captain DeSilva
Robert Morelli
as T.O. Jones
Jon Baggaley
as James Tuck
David Bolt
as Harry Gold
David Ferry
as Army Major
Michael J. Reynolds
as Kenneth Bainbridge
Joe Cazalet
as Air Force Guard
Scott Thomson
as Chemist
Bob Clout
as Alfred MacCormack
Roland Hewgill
as Army General
Terence Labrosse
as Allan Dulles
Philip Spensley
as British Sr. Officer
Frederick Neumann
as Alexander Sachs
Norris Domingue
as General Pa Watson
Michael Tucker
as Leo Szilard
Dee McCaffrey
as William "Deke" Parsons
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Critic Reviews for Day One

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Audience Reviews for Day One

As those of you who read my review of [i]Fat Man and Little Boy[/i] may recall, in my head, the role of J. Robert Oppenheimer in that film is played by David Strathairn. It isn't, of course. The role is played by Reg Barclay from various incarnations of [i]Star Trek[/i]. This, of course, is someone [i]completely[/i] different. However, in this version, he actually is. And, indeed, I think he does a better job, and I think that, in many ways, this is a more complicated and subtle film. The production values . . . well, it's made for HBO, so they aren't actually [i]bad[/i], but they aren't as good. It's hard to compare the casts. Each has a few people whom I consider among the greatest living actors--how do you decide which is the better cast, the one with David Strathairn or the one with Paul Newman? And this one was co-produced by [i]Aaron Spelling[/i]. We know the story, though this one starts with the last train out of Berlin and Nazi Germany and ends with Oppenheimer's new commitment to peace. There is less detail here about the work done and more detail about the wider implications; indeed, about the last five minutes is taken up with various of the players' reactions to the Bomb and its wider implications. We see the comments of Truman, Eisenhower, Einstein. We see Oppenheimer himself, a man who, throughout the film, has been in line with the government's goals, come to announce his desperate desire that the weapon never be used again against anyone. In time, he would lose his security clearance over his outspoken views on the subject. As I said, there's a greater subtlety to this film than the other. We see more of the uncertainty of the project, not of its physics but of its morality. We see Oppenheimer as the willing, even eager, conduit between military authority and scientific uncertainty. As in any other telling of the story, of course, there is the ridiculous governmental belief that it's possible for scientists working in isolation from one another to produce groundbreaking work. Oh, I know--you're going to cite Einstein and Galileo at me. But neither [i]did[/i] work in a scientific vacuum, and neither did the kind of applied physics that these men had to. Certainly we know that Einstein bounced ideas off other people, at least; it is less certain about Galileo, at least so far as I know. But both men had the work of others to base things on. Galileo had the work of Copernicus, for example. I refuse to get pulled into a conversation about whether the Bomb should have been dropped; I've refused for years. There's too much uncertainty on either side. I don't know where I stand on the subject, and nothing any of you say will make me certain if the historical record cannot, I promise. What I have said, what I [i]know[/i], is that I would not have wanted to be the one to make the decision to drop the Bomb, and I would not have wanted to be one of the men who built it and therefore had to bear the psychological burden of those deaths. The movie is more about those choices than the physics.

Edith Nelson
Edith Nelson

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