Join 3,421 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


“The purple glow in the sky — that was so eerie”
September 14, 2010 11:48 AM   Subscribe

Lookout Mountain Laboratories (Hollywood, CA) was originally built in 1941 as an air defense station. But after WWII, the US Air Force repurposed it into a secret film studio which operated for 22 years during the Cold War. The studio produced classified movies for all branches of the US Armed Forces, as well as the Atomic Energy Commission, until it was deactivated in 1969. During this time, cameramen, who referred to themselves as "atomic" cinematographers, were hired to shoot footage of atomic bomb tests in Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and the South Pacific. Some of their films have been declassified and can be seen here.

Two new cautionary documentaries also include materials produced by Lookout Mountain: Countdown to Zero and Nuclear Tipping Point. (Trailers can be seen at the last two links. A free DVD copy of Nuclear Tipping Point can be ordered at their site.)

Many of their still images were included in the book "How to Photograph an Atomic Bomb", which can be ordered from Amazon.)

The film Military Participation on BUSTER-JANGLE can be seen in its entirety online.



Background:
The studio was secretly established in 1947, though the Air Force has since stressed that the facility was used solely for the Atomic Energy Commission. While the Air Force contends that these atomic features were the only movies made, it is believed that some 19,000 "films" were produced on Lookout Mountain between 1947-1969. That's 500 more films than Hollywood produced during the same period, and only a few dozen of them have been declassified.

Less scandalous, there is evidence that the military conducted many advanced research experiments for Hollywood studios, such as developing 3-D techniques and Vista Vision. Employees from big studios, such as Warner Brothers and MGM, were also known to frequent the lot. Additionally, Hollywood stars like Walt Disney, Marilyn Monroe, and even Ronald Regan were given special clearance to use Lookout Mountain's facilities, though the reason for their visits remain undisclosed.


* On Wikipedia
* The Center for Land Use Interpretation
* PDF: US Department of Energy, Nevada Office: The Nevada Test Site's Secret Film Studio: Lookout Mountain
posted by zarq (6 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Errr... I assume that probably should have been Ronald Reagan on the Atlas Obscura site.
posted by zarq at 12:00 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


How did they get the studio band from Toho to do the soundtrack for this one?
posted by kuujjuarapik at 12:07 PM on September 14, 2010


Oh, also: Background on VistaVision.
posted by zarq at 12:16 PM on September 14, 2010


Everytime I drive past Lookout Mountain Avenue in Hollywood I say "Lookout! Mountain!" and the lols ensue.
posted by mullingitover at 12:27 PM on September 14, 2010


I'm guessing this is where some people think the moon landings were filmed.
posted by Kalthare at 1:15 PM on September 14, 2010


Additionally, Hollywood stars like Walt Disney, Marilyn Monroe, and even Ronald Regan were given special clearance to use Lookout Mountain's facilities, though the reason for their visits remain undisclosed.

C'mon, someone's gotta know.
This stuff is worth leaking people!
posted by madajb at 3:22 AM on September 15, 2010


« Older Everything is a Remix (Part 1) by New York-based f...  |  Sorry I Haven't Posted: Inspir... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments