Lovejoy's Nuclear War

One of America's most successful documentaries, the story of the earliest major act of civil disobedience against atomic power, and one man's winning fight to warn his community of impending danger

On George Washington's Birthday, 1974, Sam Lovejoy--a 27-year-old farmer--toppled a 500-foot weather tower in Montague, Massachusetts. The tower had been erected by the local utility as part of their attempt to build one of the largest nuclear power plants ever planned.

Sam Lovejoy, anti-nuclear tower toppler at home in Montague (above, left) and Howard Zinn, professor and widely published historian who testified at Lovejoy's trial as an expert on the history of civil disobedience.

Dr. John Gofman (above, left), world-renowned nuclear chemist, formerly with the Atomic Energy Commission who testified at the trial and Charles Bragg, former public relations chief for Northeast Utilities.


Leaving 349 feet of twisted wreckage behind, Lovejoy hitched a ride to the local police station, where he turned himself in along with a four-page statement decrying the dangers of nuclear power and accusing the government and utilities of "conspiracy and despotism."

Six months later, Lovejoy stood trial for "willful and malicious destruction of personal property," a five-year felony. He insisted on conducting his own case, and told the jury he had acted in self-defense. After a dramatic seven-day trial, Lovejoy went free.

Lovejoy's Nuclear War has helped spread the story of this remarkable event around the world, reaching several million viewers since its 1975 release. The film presents a cross-section of views about nuclear power, civil disobedience and the politics of energy that were drawn together by Lovejoy's sabotage and the trial that followed it. Step by step, it traces the path left by the shock wave of the falling tower: from the streets of this small Connecticut River Valley town to the marble hallways of the Atomic Energy Commission.

60 minutes, color, 16mm, produced by Green Mountain Post Films, 1975.
Producers: Daniel Keller & Charles Light
Directed by Daniel Keller

Sam Lovejoy, five years alter the tower toppling. He is seen here in his role as President of MUSE (Musicians United for Sate Energy) where he helped organize the five night Madison Square Garden Benefit Concerts for a Non-Nuclear Future. The event was captured and released as both a record (now a CD) and a feature movie, both called No Nukes. Sam is now a lawyer who practices in western Massachusetts and New York City.

"Lovejoy's Nuclear War is a thoroughly absorbing documentary naive enough to seek answers to fundamental questions-namely, the application of civil disobedience to something as complex as the nuclear power issue. The picture is ideally suited to academic and underground showings. . . The viewer is confronted with the kind of knotty public problems that rarely, if ever, get intelligent airing inside a film theater."-Variety

"The film has a pure, stunning instinct for asking the most fundamental and disturbing questions possible about the intersection between private lives and politics." -Harpers Weekly

"A very thoughtful and provocative account of an original and stubborn one-man war against nuclear power. Muted and underplayed, it is one of the few genuinely consciousness-changing and organically political films of the last few years. Both sides are heard, fairly; yet the filmmakers' sympathies are clear."-Amos Vogel, Film Comment

"Supported by a good use of film technique, the movie is excellent for public library film programs and for use in senior high school and college social studies, current events, and political science classes."-American Library Association's Booklist

". . . a warmly human chronicle of a serious 20th century dilemma. Even those who oppose Lovejoy's methods will find the questions it raises both provocative and disturbing."-San Francisco Examiner

"A good film."-M. Ernst, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

"Sam Lovejoy's battle against the Montague nuclear plant can still be scored a win, for the plant has not been built. The film continues to offer inspiration and hope."-Jana Varlejs, Wilson Library Bulletin

". . . a thoughtful, stimulating discussion of the impact of science on the necessities and quality of life. The message from this movie should not be taken lightly." -S.A. Clough, American Journal of Physics

". . . an informative, persuasive, and remarkably entertaining film" -Cineaste

Read more about the tower toppling and the early days of the anti-nuclear movement.


Abalone Alliance

Citizens Awareness Network (CAN)

Committee for Nuclear Responsibility

Critical Mass

Earth Island Institute

Friends of the Earth


Institiute for Energy & Environmental Research

No More Chernobyls

Nuclear Atlas

Nuclear Information & Resource Service (NIRS)

Rocky Mountain Institute

Safe Energy Communication Council

Sierra Club

Southwest Research and Information Center

Three Miles Island Alert

20/20 Vision

Union of Concerned Scientists

World Information Service on Energy (WISE)

For more information contact:
Green Mountain Post Films

PO Box 229, Turners Falls, MA 01376
(413)863-4754 * * * Fax: (413)863-8248

GMP Production * * * GMP Home * * * GMP Distribution

Surveying the twisted wreckage at the fallen tower (above left) and Lovejoy as depicted in drawing by artist Susan Mareneck.

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