Joe Dante on

The Atomic Kid

Released 1954
Distributor Republic Pictures

From Fail Safe to Dr. Strangelove, Hollywood’s reaction to the atomic bomb has veered between grim horror and black comedy; Mickey Rooney’s The Atomic Kid considers our nuclear future with the gravitas of a Bowery Boys movie. Rooney plays an unlucky schmoe trapped in an atomic blast and, instead of gaining extraordinary powers or shooting up 50 feet, he’s merely coerced by the FBI to help trap a spy ring (to the disappointment of kids everywhere). Co-star Elaine Devry was the only female in the cast and, not so coincidentally, was married to Rooney at the time (a fact played up in the movie’s advertising).

About Joe Dante

Joe Dante is a lifelong film buff who turned his obsession into a career.  He got his start cutting trailers for Roger Corman and later directed the hit movie Gremlins, as well as Gremlins 2: The New Batch, for producer Steven Spielberg. His feature films include The Howling, Innerspace, Matinee, Small Soldiers, The ‘burbs and the 3-D thriller titled The Hole, first winner of the 3D Persol Award at the Venice Film Festival. His TV directing work includes:  the HBO film, The Second Civil War, the “Masters of Horrors” titles,  Homecoming and The Screwfly Solution, episodes of Eerie, Indiana , which he was in on the creation of, as well as episodes of CSI: NY, Hawaii 5-0 and Salem. His latest feature, the zom-com Burying the Ex, is currently available on VOD.