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The Atomic Kid

The Atomic Kid(1954)

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Hoping to become famous and rich by discovering a large uranium deposit, Barnaby "Blix" Waterberry and Stan Cooper search the remote Nevada desert and become lost. After several long, hot and hungry days, they see an isolated house. Nearby is a tower, which they presume is an aircraft warning light for a privately owned runway, but as they pass it, their Geiger counter ticks. Believing that uranium is underground, they scheme to trick the owners into selling the land to them. However, at the house, no one answers their knock. After entering through an unlocked window, they are at first frightened by the sight of store mannequins arranged around a dinner table. Then, upon finding a car in the carport, Stan decides to drive to town to stake their "claim," and leaves Blix to search the pantry for food. Meanwhile, Dr. Rodell and physicist Edgar Pangborn, with the assistance of Gen. Lawler and his soldiers, prepare to detonate an experimental atomic bomb, to research the nature and extent of damage caused by the blast. The bomb is in the tower and the mannequins have been placed inside the house to simulate a family. Just before the bomb explodes, soldiers see Stan driving toward them and drag him into their trench for safety. Later, the soldiers proceed to the house to assess damage and find a disoriented and radioactive Blix emerging from the wreckage, eating a peanut butter sandwich. He is rushed to the hospital and guarded by soldiers and FBI agents. Despite his top secret status, word about Blix's miraculous survival reaches the press, who proclaim him a national hero. The isolated and seriously ill Blix now has fame, but must suffer uncomfortable treatments administered by robotic hands, as he is too radioactive to be touched by humans. During his convalescence, he is subjected to numerous tests for the good of the country. His one consolation is nurse Audrey Nelson, although her presence causes his radioactive neutrons to "hyperact" dangerously. Meanwhile, Stan declares himself Blix's manager and negotiates the many movie, book, product endorsement and marital proposals that his friend is receiving. In particular, Stan listens to representatives of a peanut butter company, who will pay a fortune for Blix to say he was eating their brand during the explosion. Even better is the offer from Mr. Reynolds, who pitches a million dollar package deal involving a ghostwritten biography about Blix, for which Stan will provide the "facts." Although perplexed by Reynolds' habit of calling him "Conrad," Stan agrees to wear a special lapel camera and take pictures of Blix inside the hospital. The cooped-up Blix, upon learning that Stan has been seeing Audrey, gets depressed, and Rodell sympathetically stands by when his patient decides to makes a bungling escape. Jim, an FBI boss, orders agents Ray and Bill secretly to assist the catastrophe-prone Blix and then tail him for his own protection. Blix meets Audrey in Las Vegas at the Golden Nugget Casino, where his lingering radioactivity causes the machines to award jackpots. Later, at Audrey's home, they admit to mutual admiration and kiss, but Blix's heightened emotions cause the fireplace and electrical appliances to flash dangerously. Feeling that their love is doomed, Blix, glowing with radiation, returns to the hospital. Meanwhile, Jim realizes that Stan has been unwittingly working with a Communist spy, but, other than sabotaging Stan's attempts to provide the spies with photographs, has not interfered, believing that Stan's bumbling may provide an opportunity to uncover the spy's leader. After months of hospital care, Blix's health is restored and, as research has been fruitless, he is told he is no longer needed. Learning that he will be secretly released from the hospital, Blix admits he will miss the attention, even though he found fame burdensome. Before Blix leaves, Pangborn jokingly warns him to stay clear of another experimental explosion scheduled for five o'clock. At his apartment, Stan realizes that Reynolds has been calling him "comrade," not "Conrad," when the spy orders him at gunpoint to help capture Blix. Claiming that Blix is too heavily guarded, Stan refuses, but then Blix walks in. After realizing that the Communists want him for gruesome experiments, Blix scares Reynolds into giving up his gun, by pretending that the five o'clock test blast was caused by his sneeze. Blix orders that the spy leader, Mosley, be summoned and then tries to deliver both spies to the FBI. However, Mosley escapes, so Blix resorts to calling out the window for help. While Blix and Stan struggle with Reynolds, Blix falls out the window onto Mosley, and Ray and Bill, who have responded to Blix's call, capture both spies. Later, Stan goes to Hollywood to arrange a film about his life. Audrey and Blix marry, but while driving to their San Francisco honeymoon, lose their way and must stop at a house to ask for directions. Seeing mannequins inside, Blix drives away as fast as possible.