Baker
OPERATION CROSSROADS. 1946
Producer: Jam Handy

ATOMIC BLAST! 1946
Producer: First Pictures,
Universal Newsreel, &
The US Army & Navy

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



Able & Baker were respectively rhesus & spider monkeys sent into space in 1959 inside the Jupiter craft. They were macabre names in that the original Able & Baker were atomic bombs, one exploded above the Bikini Atoll, the other beneath the atoll waters, with harmful repurcussions that have lasted down to this day.

Operation CrossroadsThe propoganda film Operation Crossroads (1946) is a surprisingly well-budgeted government production intended to make people worry less about the repurcussions of nuclear warfare, & to make American citizens more fully support their government's actions with nuclear bombs, whatever those actions might be.

Missing from this newsy documentary is anything about the Bikini islands having been inhabited & its population being forcibly relocated to their everlasting sadness. Charcoal carbondating have shown Bikini & nearby Eneu islands inhabited since 1,000 B.C.E. or much earlier, but now their island country is so polluted with radiation that to this day the Bikinians cannot return.

Their diaspora remains scattered through the rest of the Marshall Islands & overseas, still dreaming of the day when their families can return to their homeland. (Visit www.bikiniatoll.com for lots of good information.)

To watch Operation Crossroads you would think the tests took place far, far, far from human habitation. When an event is reported this twisted from the reality, it can only be assumed that the people involved perfectly knew they were committing acts of wrong.

A piece of newsreel footage is provided showing the stupidity of people's doubts about atomic testing. Anyone stupid enough to not like these tests, we're shown, also have such fears as the entire ocean will evaporate, or a hole will be punched in the bottom of the sea & all the water will run out, or gravity will stop & we'll all be thrown out into space.

Disagreement with the military government is, thus, pure ignorance. Since you & I are not ignorant, we surely support nuclear armament & testing.

Even attempting to give a positive impression of nuclear war, the cruelty of testing on living animals is for this film a matter of pride, not shame. How cool to see a lamb, earlier seen alive, baked whole & swollen up like balloon.

And we do get some nice footage of the mushrom clouds & the instant destruction of an armada of seventy ships.

The underwater blast was by far the most destructive & toxic, & impressive on film, footage familiar from Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove & any number of places wherein it has been recycled because so gosh darn cool.

It's intriguing that for Baker, the musical soundtrack is pure horror film music, so the sound editor at least was trying to get an unwanted message across. The music that follows for the close-ups of ruin & dead swollen animals is violins of sadness merging into bells of death then harsher notes reserved in all of cinema for the villains.


Atomic Blast! (1946) was a seven & a half minute short narrated by Ed Herilihy of Universal Newsreel. It's about Project Crossroads which under Admiral William H. Blandy's command rendered the formerly inhabited Bikini Islands uninhabitable.

Atomic Blast!Produced by "First Pictures" under the auspices of & with footage from the US Army & Navy, little production companies like this one & Jam Handy who made Project Crossroads discussed above accepted grant monies to help assist the propaganda engine.

This one has different footage of the first of the two bombs, less impressive footage than in the Jam Handy film. It is so carelessly written that it leaves the viewer with the impression that only one bomb was set off.

Both films have overlapping footage of the pathetic animals tied down as part of the tests. "A sheep loses his fleecy coat in the interests of science!" Sailors are sheering sheep so that their skin will be directly exposed to the bombs that roast them alive.

We are also shown men in goggles being irradiated. In 1946 it was already understood that this was dangerous, but how dangerous wasn't yet certain, so these men were used as guinea pigs without being asked to volunteer. Later, in 1954, human radiation experiment were undertaken to eradiate inhabited isles of the Marshalls, one America's great military crimes against humanity.

This wholesome version of the bombing of the Bikini Atoll is stitched together very cheaply, with a stentorial announcer generic as all hell. The soundtrack is not as complex as the Jam Handy version, being mainly marching music intent on giving a victorious stench to everything.

If none of the footage is trumped up in a studio after the events, then we get an actual close-up of the face of one of the men who bombed the atoll from the air.

Continue to reviews of more 1950s propaganda shorts:
A is for Atom [and] Radiation Safety

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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