'Miracle Mile' a Reel Blast

Hollywood has always had a weird love affair with The Bomb.

Since the weapon's infamous introduction at Alamogordo, N.M., in 1945 and during the 40-plus years of Cold War tension that followed, nukes have been the subject of numerous films--some good, some bad. "Miracle Mile" is among the select few--"Dr. Strangelove," "On the Beach," "Testament," "The Bedford Incident," "Fail Safe"--that are nuclear apocalyptic standouts.

The film in many ways resembles the mood of William Friedkin's quirky "After Midnight." And like "After Midnight," the bulk of the film's action takes place in the wee hours of the morning.

Writer-director Steve DeJarnatt, who wrote the script more than 10 years ago, uses Los Angeles as ground zero. And from the opening frame, coupled with Tangerine Dream's electronic soundtrack, the film's ominous mood builds to an unforgetable climax.

Harry Washello (Anthony Edwards), a struggling jazz trombonist, mistakenly receives a call at 4 a.m. in a phone booth from a missile silo worker. The caller frantically tells Harry that missiles have been launched and World War III is an hour away.

Dazed and confused, Harry takes off to get his girl, Julie (Mare Winningham). Planning to meet others who are trying to get out of the city, Harry and Julie make their way to a helicopter-rendezvous point atop the Mutual Benefit Life Building in Los Angeles.

A sort of new-wave nuke film, "Miracle Mile" is intense, humorous and powerful. And, yeah, it's also sometimes off the wall.

"Miracle Mile" (1989), directed by Steve DeJarnatt. 87 minutes. Rated R.

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