The Manhattan Project is an American film, released in 1986. Named after the World War II-era program, the plot revolves around a gifted high school student who decides to construct a nuclear bomb for a national science fair. The film's underlying theme involves the Cold War of the 1980s when governmental secrecy and mutual assured destruction were key political and military issues. It was directed by Marshall Brickman, based upon his screenplay co-written with Thomas Baum, and starred John Lithgow, Christopher Collet, John Mahoney, Jill Eikenberry and Cynthia Nixon. Dr. John Mathewson (John Lithgow) discovers a new process for refining plutonium to purities greater than 99.997 percent. The United States government provides him a laboratory located near a suburban neighborhood in Ithaca, New York, masked as a medical company, Medatomics. Mathewson moves to Ithaca and meets real estate agent Elizabeth Stephens (Jill Eikenberry) while searching for an apartment. He attempts to win the affections of the single mom by inviting her teenage son Paul (Christopher Collet) to take a tour of Medatomics and see "one of the sexiest lasers in the entire free world."