THE ATOMIC CITY is an entertaining Cold War era FBI procedural with strong docu-noir overtones. All that's missing is the usual omniscient narration by Reed Hadley or William Woodson.
Dr. Frank Addison (Gene Barry, in his film debut) is a top-ranked nuclear physicist at Los Alamos. His son Tommy (Lee Aaker, one year before HONDO) is kidnapped while on a Santa Fe field trip with his teacher (Nancy Gates).
The men who have kidnapped Tommy want the secrets of the H bomb. While Dr. Addison and his wife (Lydia Clarke, who was Mrs. Charlton Heston in real life) agonize over their son's well-being, FBI Inspector Harold Mann (Milburn Stone) and his men swing into action, utilizing every means at their disposal to break up the spy ring and find Tommy.
There's a tense sequence in a Hollywood hotel lobby waiting for a critical letter to be picked up by a courier -- watch for Mary Murphy in a tiny early role asking the clerk for stamps -- and a very entertaining scene set during a ballgame at L.A.'s Gilmore Field.
As a side note, it's interesting how often baseball stadiums are used for suspense sequences, from SOUTHSIDE 1-1000 (1950) and ARMORED CAR ROBBERY (1950) to EXPERIMENT IN TERROR (1962).
Additional location shooting took place in Santa Fe, including the exterior of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, and at ancient New Mexico cliff dwellings.
I often have trouble with "child in danger" storylines, but that aspect was handled very delicately; the kidnapping is not shown, and Tommy isn't seen again until the closing scenes, when he shows a great deal of gumption acting to save himself.
This was the feature film debut of director Jerry Hopper. The movie was shot in black and white by Charles Lang. Sidney Boehm was Oscar-nominated for Best Story and Screenplay. The movie runs 85 minutes.
The supporting cast includes Michael Moore, Frank Cady, Houseley Stevenson Jr., Thomas Browne Henry, and Bonnie Kay Eddy.
THE ATOMIC CITY is a Paramount film which is available on DVD from Olive Films. There were stray threads on screen in a couple of scenes but otherwise the print was excellent. Olive Films has also released this film on Blu-ray. Either version can be rented from ClassicFlix.
A download can be purchased from Amazon Instant Video.
For more on this movie, Glenn Erickson has written about THE ATOMIC CITY at DVD Savant, rating it "Excellent."