DR. TOMPKINS letter to Donna Reed
suggesting the film on the atom bomb was dated October 23. 1945.
Within a month, studio executives had waxed enthusiastic over the
plan, Marx had made his trip to Oak Ridge and visited President
Truman, General Groves. Dr. Oppenheimer and a multitude of other
atomic leaders. Shortly after, the official announcement came that
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer ,was preparing to film "The Beginning or the
End," the story of the atom bomb.
At the turn of the year,
the tremendous research campaign was under way. but not a line of
screenplay was on paper. Considine and Wead now \were ready to start
writing, however. Within four months, their job was completed. So.,
too, was the research delving into top secret developments at hundreds
of atomic installations, demanding contacts with close to a thousand
different people who had been connected in some degree with the
project. In five months, Hollywood had achieved a task that ordinarily
would have taken the film makers between one and two years..
The finished script approved all around,
cameras began turning on the sound stages.
Eleven weeks later, Director Taurog said 'Cut" to his final scene
several days ahead of his schedule. "This speedy handling of
a difficult assignment," he declared, "can be attributed
only to the interest and enthusiasm displayed not only by all the
actors involved but also by every man on the picture's crew. Everyone
,who has been engaged on this picture seems to have caught the spirit
of it , and responded accordingly.".
From the start of filming,
despite the tremendous interest throughout Hollywood in the picture,
the sets for "The Beginning or the End" were tightly closed to visitors.
Only working press members were allowed entrance, and then only
on designated days. A sign on the stage door announced the rescinding
of all regular studio passes, and a studio police officer was on
hand to make it stick.
This "security measure,"
installed by the studio, served a double purpose. Although the script
had been approved by the White House and the War Department, it
still was required that the completed picture be shown to government
officia1s in Washington, D.C. before being released, and in addition,
the size of the cast and the difficult nature of many scenes made
a closed set advisable in view of the demand for speed.
With film cutting and musical scoring
being pushed even while the picture
was being made on the sound stages, studio officials announced that
the picture detailing the story of the atom bomb would be presented
to the public as soon as the machinery of distribution would permit.