It’s an epic tale that spans more than 30 years. As the Cold War took hold at that dawn of the 1950s the U.S. government began a program to perfect the atom bomb. The Nevada Test Site would be the prime location for testing atomic weapons on U.S. soil. A key to the program was to reduce impact to the public by having the radioactive nuclear fallout drift “downwind” into sparsly-inhabited areas of Utah.
Who Nuked The Duke? looks at the program through the camera lense and filming of the 1954 RKO epic The Conqueror. The John Wayne feature, from producer Howard Hughes, would be filmed inside the infamous Snow Canyon, “a key resevoir” of nuclear fallout. As the years ticked by cast and crew would succumb, one by one, to a host of cancers. Director Dick Powell, co-star Pedro Armendariz, leading lady Susan Hayward, co-star Agnes Moorehead, and ultimately John Wayne himself. Along with countless other cast and crew, they represent a microcosm of what happened in the Utah community where the movie was filmed.
Taking an objective look back at the government program, the scientific facts behind the testing and its impact on the community, as well as the lives of the Hollywood stars, Who Nuked The Duke? offers a rare look inside movie history and the Atomic Energy program.