The Atomic Kid

The Atomic Kid is a 1954 American black-and-white science fiction comedy film from Republic Pictures, produced by Maurice Duke and Mickey Rooney, directed by Leslie H. Martinson, that stars Mickey Rooney and Robert Strauss.

The Atomic Kid
Directed byLeslie H. Martinson
Produced byMaurice Duke
Mickey Rooney
Written byBlake Edwards
Benedict Freedman
John Fenton Murray
StarringMickey Rooney
Robert Strauss
Music byVan Alexander
CinematographyJohn L. Russell
Edited byFred Allen
Mickey Rooney Productions
Distributed byRepublic Pictures
Release date
  • December 8, 1954 (1954-12-08) (United States)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States


While uranium prospector "Blix" Waterberry is in the desert, he wanders into an active atomic bomb test site and is accidentally exposed to radiation from a direct overhead A-bomb blast. He miraculously survives, becoming radioactive, and in the process gaining special powers. He is then recruited for his powers by the FBI to help break up a spy ring. After helping to capture the spy ring, Bix and his former nurse decide to get married. They head toward Las Vegas and get lost in the desert along the way. They stop at a lone ranch-style house they come upon to ask for directions, only to discover that the house is open and mannequins have been placed in the furnished house. Bix has somehow driven into another active atomic bomb test site! In a dead panic, he hurriedly drives himself and his fiance away from ground zero before history has a chance to repeat itself.



The film's screenplay is based on a story by Blake Edwards.

Rooney's character "Blix" Waterberry wanders into an atomic test site, and, as one reviewer describes, "Mannequins are depicted sitting around the dinner table in front of their plastic meal, awaiting the predetermined bomb drop ... Rooney remains with the mannequin family and discovers at the last minute that an atomic bomb will be detonated over his head. In a deliberately humorous scene, Rooney frantically tries to find a place to hide from the approaching explosion, only to close his eyes and stick his fingers in his ears as the bomb goes off."[1]

Nurse Audrey Nelson (Elaine Devry), who marries "Blix" at the end, is the only female character in the film's opening credits and promotional posters, where she is billed as "Elaine Davis". At the time The Atomic Kid was being filmed, Devry/Davis was married to Mickey Rooney in real life.

  • This is the feature film showing in 1955 at the fictional Town Theater in the fictional Hill Valley in 1985's science fiction comedy Back to the Future.


  1. Joyce A. Evans, Celluloid Mushroom Clouds: Hollywood and the Atomic Bomb (Westview Press: 1998), p. 64.


  • Ted Okuda, "The Atomic Kid: Radioactivity Finds Andy Hardy" in Science Fiction America: Essays on SF Cinema (edited by David J. Hogan; McFarland, 2006), pp. 120–129.
  • Bill Warren. Keep Watching The Skies, Vol I: 1950–1957. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 1982. ISBN 0-89950-032-3.
  • David Wingrove, Science Fiction Film Source Book (Longman Group Limited, 1985).
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