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, Innerspace and Small Soldiers for producer Steven Spielberg. His feature films include The Howling, Piranha, Matinee, The ‘burbs , Looney Tunes Back in Action, The Hole (first winner of the 3D Persol Award at the Venice Film Festival) and the zom-com Burying the Ex. His TV directing work includes: Police Squad, Amazing Stories, the HBO film The Second Civil War, the Masters of Horror titles Homecoming and The Screwfly Solution, and episodes of Eerie, Indiana, CSI: NY, Hawaii 5-0, Witches of East End, Legends of Tomorrow and Salem. His latest big screen credit is an episode of the upcoming Nightmare Cinema.