ATOMIC CAFE provided the founders of this site with an exceptional roadmap of how to blend pop cultural artifacts, satire and information to form new entertainment - or in the vernacular of the Internet - "content." With a tip of the old CONELRAD fedora, then, this page gratefully acknowledges a great film, soundtrack, and book.
The idea for this unique and innovative documentary began in a San Francisco bookstore in 1976 when one of the film's co-producers (Pierce Rafferty) found a thick catalogue of U.S. government films. That same day Rafferty envisioned a project that would utilize some of these titles to create a satirical documentary on the subject of American propaganda. The concept of crafting a visual montage out of long forgotten government training movies took six years and $300,000 to finally be realized on the screen in 1982. Along the way Rafferty enlisted his brother, Kevin, and shortly thereafter, New York film teacher Jayne Loader to join him in making the film.
ATOMIC CAFE is ultimately a post-modern masterpiece that is different from any documentary that came before it or has been released since. One of the reasons the film is such an artistic success is because the filmmakers were daring enough to eschew narration and rely solely on their source footage. This footage - edited for maximum irony and backed by a phenomenal soundtrack - evolved into a completely fresh and original work. And with the Reagan administration's re-energized arms race in full swing (with complimentary plans for "continuity of government"), the film achieved currency with its wicked satire of Truman/Eisenhower era designs for winning World War III.
You can learn more about the making of the film and read the contemporaneous reviews at Jayne Loader's Public Shelter web site.
Like its film counterpart, the ATOMIC CAFE soundtrack is an ingenious blend of music and documentary news clips. It is also the single greatest collection of Atomic Music ever assembled and released. The pre-Internet methodology employed by the producers to locate these wonderful songs was simple: They went to the Library of Congress music copyright file and looked under "Atomic." From this search they produced a "want list" of 200 titles. This list was sent out to various collectors who would invariably reply with even more suggestions. From the master tape, they elected to include 17 tunes mixed with radio broadcasts and newsreel audio*. Lamentably, this atomic anthology is long out-of-print with no active plans of a reissue. This is due in part to copyright difficulties Rounder Records experienced in releasing the album in the first place. If you would care to gently nag the company, please e-mail them.
Album Liner Notes [Excerpt]:
Jayne Loader: "There were some (songs) we never could find: "Atomic Polka" and "Atomic Boogie" and one amazing song called "Fallout Shelter," in the "Tell Laura I Love Her" genre; the father tells the son that he can't bring his girlfriend into the family fallout shelter, so the boy and girl leave the shelter and die in the streets"**
CONELRAD owes a great debt to the producers of ATOMIC CAFE (the film, the soundtrack AND the tie-in book) as it was a major inspiration to our drive to plumb the depths of Atomic Culture and start this site. Therefore, if we ever do find "Fallout Shelter," a copy will be shipped to Ms. Loader immediately. [Update: In November of 2003 CONELRAD tracked down the elusive (and amazing) "Fallout Shelter" by Billy Chambers. As promised a copy with our compliments was shipped to Ms. Loader.]
THE BOOK OF THE FILM
A wonderful tie-in book to the film featuring some of the remarkable images from this nation's atomic heritage. Some great photographs include the original "Atomic Café" sign as well as an odd picture of a man getting into a box labeled "Atomic Bomb Protective Device." The ATOMIC CAFE book of the film can be found in used bookstores, EBAY and the Advanced Book Exchange.
|© 1999-2005 CONELRAD.COM|
CONELRAD CENTRAL | ATOMIC SECRETS | YELLOW PAGES | SOVIET AMERICA | MUTATED TV | ABOUT US