Atomic Hangovers

The House in the Middle

In 1954, the National Paint, Varnish and Lacquer Association and the National Clean Up – Paint Up – Fix Up Bureau got together with the Federal Civil Defense Administration to produce this propaganda gem. Model houses were built in the desert and exposed to atomic blasts to show the effect of the heat from those explosions on the common home. The narrator questions, “What do these tests prove?” Then he kindly provides the answer–“Many things!” If you practice good houskeeping–civil defense housekeeping–like a clean yard and a fresh coat of paint (or two), your home just might survive an atomic last without getting burned to a crisp!

The National Archives gives this description:

Atomic tests at the Nevada Proving Grounds (later the Nevada Test Site) show effects on well-kept homes, homes filled with trash and combustibles, and homes painted with reflective white paint. Asserts that cleanliness is an essential part of civil defense preparedness and that it increased survivability. Selected for the 2002 National Film Registry of “artistically, culturally, and socially significant” films.

Hit the jump and take a look at just what you can do today for a safer and better prepared tomorrow!



Video is in the Public Domain, The House in the Middle, part of the Prelinger Archives. Discovered via

  • cdog

    Gee the music makes the movie quite dramatic and scary. With this kind of propaganda the Americans of the 50's must have been shitting bricks. Just as well the war on terror has given the US Govt something to scare the hell out of Americans again. Just like the good old days.

  • aastrovan

    Please varnish your fence to save the country.

  • fodder650

    Remember to check for discarded refrigerators holding Harrison Ford's in them. You will know yours has one if you find the smell of pot lingering near it.

  • CaptianNemo2001

    " A series of tests were made…" How many detonations do you need to do to get information???? Can't we just test everything in one blast? Oh wait, I am sorry this is the U,S, Government we are talking about… Never mind.

    /Watches government whine about each agency needing its own nuke's, not having enough explodies per agency and how working together is unamerican…

    • My guess is a single blast was used with all the test items setup around it. The data is presented in a sequence to make the movie flow better. Having the side effect of suggesting that the US has so many atom bombs, it can use a few of them to blow up fences to sell paint is just gravy.

  • Froggmann_

    I have a feeling your fence/dwelling bursting into flames is going to be the least of your worries if an A-bomb goes off within 5 miles of your location.

    Just saying

  • See what good old fashioned lead based paint can do!

  • kingbundcanzard