The Day After (1983 film)

1983 film directed by Nicholas Meyer

The Day After is a 1983 American television movie which aired on November 20, 1983 on the ABC television network. The film portrays a fictional war between NATO forces and the Warsaw Pact that rapidly escalates into a full scale nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union. It focuses on the residents of Lawrence, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, as well as several family farms situated next to nuclear missile silos.

Directed by Nicholas Meyer. Screenplay by Edward Hume. Produced by Robert Papazian.
The day before. The day of. The Day After. Taglines

Dr. Russell OakesEdit

  • I wonder who was spared. I wonder if New York, Paris, Moscow... are just like Kansas City now.

Joe HuxleyEdit

  • [speaking into his shortwave radio] This is Lawrence. This is Lawrence, Kansas. Is there anybody there? Anybody at all?
  • You know what Einstein said about World War III? He said he didn't know how they would fight World War III, but he knew how they would fight World War IV: with sticks and stones.

Stephen KleinEdit

  • You can't see it... you can't feel it... and you can't taste it. But it's here, right now, all around us. It's goin' through you like an X-ray. Right into your cells! What do you think killed all these animals!?

First Air Force OfficerEdit

  • Confidence is high. I repeat, confidence is high. Roger, we've got 32 targets in track and 10 impacting points. I want it confirmed... is this an exercise? Roger, copy. This is not an exercise!

Second Air Force OfficerEdit

  • Roger, understand. Major Reinhardt, we have a massive attack against the U.S. at-at this time. ICBMs...numerous ICBMs...Roger, understand. Over 300 missiles inbound now.


[Laying in bed watching TV the night before the attack]
Helen Oakes: My God. It's 1962 all over again. The Cuban Missile Crisis. Do you remember Kennedy on television, telling Khrushchev to turn his boats around?
Dr. Russell Oakes: "Full retaliatory response." He didn't bat an eye.
Helen Oakes: We were in New York, in bed... just like this, remember? 118th street.
Dr. Russell Oakes: Meatball sandwiches from Sharky's.
Helen Oakes: Your last year's residency. I swear we made Marilyn that night.
Dr. Russell Oakes: We got up, and went to the window to look for the bombs.
Helen Oakes: It didn't happen. It's not going to happen now.
Dr. Russell Oakes: Nah. People are crazy, but not that crazy.
Helen Oakes: Well... do you want to know from crazy? The Donnelly's left today for Guadalajara.
Dr. Russell Oakes: Guadalajara?
Helen Oakes: I swear it. I spoke to Herb as they were pulling out. He said they were dovetailing their vacation with the rising international tensions.
Dr. Russell Oakes: Aw, cut it out!
Helen Oakes: I'm not kidding. Well, they took their Vietnamese maid with them. And that rotten little barking dog with the pushed-in face.
Dr. Russell Oakes: [chuckles] Oh, what about their little combination tractor/lawnmower/golfcart with the silver hubcaps?
Helen Oakes: [laughs] Probably...[sighs] What if it does happen? What'll we do?

Dr. Landowska: There is a rumor that they are evacuating Moscow. There are people even leaving Kansas City because of the missile base. Now I ask you: To where does one go from Kansas City? The Yukon? Tahiti? We are not talking about Hiroshima anymore. Hiroshima was... was peanuts!
Dr. Russell Oakes: What's going on? Do you have any idea what's going on in this world?
Dr. Landowska: Yeah. Stupidity... has a habit of getting its way.

[Nuclear IBCMs have been launched]
Airman: You know what that means, don't you? Either we fired first and they're going to try to hit what's left, or they fired first and we just got our missiles out of the ground in time. Either way, we're going to get hit.
Airman Billy McCoy: So what are we still standing around here for?
Sergeant: Where do you want to go?
Airman Billy McCoy: Well, how about out of here for starters? I've got to get my wife and my kid!
Sergeant: We're still on alert, Billy! No one leaves this facility. Not until the choppers get here to take us back to Whiteman and to the shelters...
Airman Billy McCoy: [cutting him off] Are you kidding me, man? The bombs will be here before the choppers will! Listen to me. Listen to me, man. The war is over! It's over. We've done our job. So what are you still guarding? Huh? Some cotton-pickin' hole in the ground all dressed up and nowhere to go?
Airman: He's right!
Airman Tommy: What about Starr and Boyle?
Sergeant: What about them?
Airman Tommy: What are they doing?
Airman Billy McCoy: Yeah, they're 60 feet down, sipping on some cold beer and whistling "Misty"!
Airman Tommy: Well I'm going down there!
Sergeant: You can't go down there! That elevator is secure!
Airman Billy McCoy: Do you hear yourself talking, bozo? 'Cause I hear you saying that we've got direct orders to be sitting ducks!

[Nuclear ICBMs have been launched]
Cynthia: What's going on?
Joe Huxley: Those are Minuteman missiles!
Cynthia: Like a test, sort of. Like a warning?
Joe Huxley: [shakes his head, staring at the missiles in awe and disbelief] They're on their way to Russia. They take about 30 minutes to reach their targets.
Aldo: So do theirs, right?

Dr. Sam Hachiya: [intensely] What did you see? You come from Kansas City. What did you see?
Dr. Russell Oakes: [in shock] I was on the freeway, about 30 miles away. I'm not was high in the air, directly above downtown. Like the sun...exploding.

Julian French: We tried hooking up an auxiliary pump up to a backup generator, and we're still only getting a trickle.
Dr. Sam Hachiya: I don't understand. Did they burn out?
Dr. Austin: They could have been subject to the EMP effects.
Dr. Russell Oakes: What's that?
Dr. Austin: "Electro-Magnetic Pulse." When a large nuclear device is airburst at high altitude, a lot of electrical disruption can be created, principally with radios, communication systems, electrical wires, computers, cars, transistors. Of course, it's all theoretical. It's never happened before. In short, very little electricity.
Dr. Sam Hachiya: Forever?
[Dr. Austin shrugs]

Denise Dahlberg: You attend the University of Kansas in Lawrence? Do you know Bruce Gallatin? He's my fiancee. He's a senior over there.
Stephen Klein: No.
Denise Dahlberg: But you're from Lawrence, so that must mean that Bruce is all right.
Stephen Klein: Well...I don't know what happened to Lawrence. I was pretty close to Harrisonville when it all started. There must have been five or six of those mushroom cloud explosions to the north in and around Kansas City, and... a whole string of them to the south.
Jim Dahlberg: They must have hit every missile silo from Sedalia to Eldorado Springs.

Dr. Russell Oakes: I think you've got to be willing to let your baby come whether you like it or not. You're holding back hope.
Alison Ransom: Hope for what? What do you think is going to happen out there? You think we're going to sweep up the dead and fill in a couple of holes and build some supermarkets? You think all those people left alive out there are going to say, "Oh, I'm sorry. It wasn't my fault. Let's kiss and make up"? We knew the score. We knew all about bombs, we knew all about fallout. We knew this could happen for forty years. But nobody was interested.
Dr. Russell Oakes: [turns to leave] I can't argue with you.
Alison Ransom: [pulls him back] Argue with me. Please... give me a reason. Tell me about hope. Tell me why you work so hard in here.
Dr. Russell Oakes: ...I don't know.

  • Disclaimer: The catastrophic events you have just witnessed are, in all likelihood, less severe than the destruction that would actually occur in the event of a full nuclear strike against the United States…

About The Day After (1983 film)Edit

  • No one is going to tune it to two nights of Armageddon
  • The answer print has been tampered with twice. One scene of a child having a nuclear nightmare was set. A psychologist who saw the film said this would be too upsetting for children. Considering what children see on television every week, I found this ludicrous and hypocritical. Also, Ed Hume had written a line about the Pershing II missiles in Germany having set off the confrontation, and the network decided that might be politically inflammatory, so it was cut.
    • Nicholas Meyer, New York Times November 13, 1983
  • Very effective and left me greatly depressed.
    • Ronald Reagan Empire, "How Ronald Reagan Learned To Start Worrying And Stop Loving The Bomb", November 2010, pp 134–140
  • Some of the survivors of Hiroshima had their eyeballs literally melted out of their heads. Even if we were doing a feature film, that would have been too strong to show. We wanted to create reality, but not horror. My purpose was not to make viewers sick.


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