.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

Local favorite to screen Thursday

-A A +A
By Kelly Dolejsi

Imagine – or remember – what it was like growing up in Los Alamos in the 1940s and ‘50s. Well-armed guards kept the gates to the so-called Atomic City. Visitors needed special passes. Their vehicles were routinely searched.

Imagine – or remember – what it was like growing up in Los Alamos in the 1940s and ‘50s. Well-armed guards kept the gates to the so-called Atomic City. Visitors needed special passes. Their vehicles were routinely searched.

Once visitors entered the county, they saw the fences and forbidding signs that twined the mesas and they, along with residents of this strange little brain trust, could hear explosions at regular intervals throughout the day.

To children growing up in the formerly secret city, this was normal – just like it was normal to understand the basics of electrical engineering before finishing grade school. But to visitors, it was either extremely uncomfortable or, for some, an enticing challenge.

Director Jerry Hopper’s 1952 film “The Atomic City” points out a gaping hole in Los Alamos’ protective armor – mainly in that many of the scientists were parents, and despite their deep commitment to their work, they were unlikely to choose country over the welfare of their children.

In the film, spies wishing to uncover details of a top-secret project underway at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory slip inside the fences by kidnapping the son of one of the lab’s top scientists.  The kidnappers tell Frank Addison (Gene Barry) and his wife Martha (Lydia Clarke) that unless Frank hands over classified documents pertaining to the H-bomb, their son Tommy (Lee Aaker) will die.

Put the entire world at risk, or lose their only son.

That’s a choice parents in most “normal” cities would never have to make.

Many Los Alamos residents have already seen this great family drama / emotional thriller. It’s been shown many times over the years to very enthusiastic audiences.

The Mesa Public Library Free Film Series will show “The Atomic City” one more time at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the upstairs meeting room theater. The screening is one of many events going on throughout the county in commemoration of its 60th anniversary.

At a reception preceding the film, the Los Alamos Arts Council will offer 1940s-era refreshments, including Junior Mints and Cokes in old-fashioned Coke bottles, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Next up in the series is “Milagro Beanfield War” (1988) on July 2, “Contact” (1997) on July 30 and a collection of short films on Sept. 3. As part of the library’s tribute to Los Alamos’ 60th anniversary year-long celebration, each film in this season’s series was shot in New Mexico.

Films are presented free of charge thanks in large part to donations from the Friends of the Library. The series is co-sponsored by the Los Alamos Arts Council.

Editor’s Note: Kelly Dolejsi is a member of the Los Alamos Arts Council.