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When Worlds Collide (1951)

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As a new star and planet hurtle toward a doomed Earth, a small group of survivalists frantically work to complete the rocket which will take them to their new home.



(screenplay), (novel) | 1 more credit »
Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Julie Cummings (as Judith Ames)
Stephen Chase ...
Sandro Giglio ...


South African bush pilot and carefree ladies man Dave Randall finds he has been let in on the greatest and most terrible secret in the world when an eminent astronomer pays him to deliver some mysterious photos from to an equally prominent colleague in the U.S. The recipient, Dr. Hendron, confirms the awful findings of the sender: the star Bellus will collide with Earth, destroying our planet. Despite widespread disbelief, Marston and Spiro, a pair of millionaire philanthropists, give Dr. Hendron all their assets to begin construction on a huge rocket ship that will, at least theoretically, transport a nucleus of survivors to Zyra, a planet which orbiting Bellus that may or may not be habitable. The funds aren't enough to complete the spaceship, and Dr. Hendron solicits a contribution from elderly wheelchair-bound tycoon Sydney Stanton, a wheelchair-bound old man who, unlike the selfless Marston and Spiro, demands a place on the rocket, even though space and weight will be too ... Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


44 Men and Women in Desperate Getaway Flight...To Escape Earth's Destruction! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

30 November 1951 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Cuando los mundos chocan  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$936,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


When the effects of Zyra are shown there is a shot of a volcano erupting where the side of the peak falls outward. This same shot was used in other George Pal films, including The Time Machine (1960) and Atlantis, the Lost Continent (1961). See more »


When Dr. Hendron activates the ship's launching mechanism, Stanton tries to wheel himself to the ramp and says "No! Wait! Help!". However, his lips do not match him saying "help". See more »


[first lines]
Narrator: [spoken over a shot of outer space] Needles in a heavenly haystack. There are more stars in the heavens than there are human beings on Earth. Through telescopes men of science constantly search the infinitesimal corners of our solar system seeking new discoveries, hoping to better understand the laws of the Universe. Observatories dedicated to the study of astronomy are set in high and remote places, but there is none more remote than Mt. Kenna Observatory in this part of South ...
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Referenced in The H.G. Wells Legacy (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

The book was much better!
15 November 2002 | by (Boulder, CO) – See all my reviews

I like George Pal's movies including this one, but I have to be honest and say that the novel on which this film is based is far, far superior. That having been said, however, let me hasten to add that "When Worlds Collide" is an enjoyable movie. The special effects of a half-century ago are still impressive, and the film's commentary on human nature is rather incisive. On the science and technology side of the ledger, however, the movie is seriously lacking, and the book does a much better job of discussing the technical difficulties involved in any kind of evacuation from Earth and the reseeding of the human race on another planet. Also, the collision between Earth and the star Bellus is a complete disappointment.

John Hoyt's performance as self-seeking and cynical billionaire Sidney Stanton is the best in the movie. He doesn't overplay the part, but mixes the right proportion of facial gestures and acidic voice inflection to give his wheelchair-bound character a completely believable profile. He is the real star of the movie. The other performances are adequate, but lack the depth of Hoyt's. The movie could have used another thirty minutes to fully develop both the storyline and the other characters because a theme like this needs two hours or so to fulfill itself.

Many have criticized the Disney-like final scene as the survivors of Earth's end walk onto the soil of the new world Zyra. To be fair to Pal, the production was rushed at the end to meet budget costs and what was put forward was the best that could be done in a limited time. Pal also intended to film a sequel "After Worlds Collide", in line with what the book had, to continue the story. Unfortunately, Paramount Pictures scotched that, and no sequel was ever made. Pal carried that disappointment to his grave.

I'd like to see "When Worlds Collide" made into a movie again. Despite "Deep Impact" and other movies like it, "When Worlds Collide" stands as the ultimate disaster movie, and with today's technology, a much better version than George Pal's could be made. A sequel should also be done as was the case with the original book to bring the story to a logical conclusion. For now, however, all we have is the 1951 film, and it still holds up well and will reward viewers who appreciate thrilling adventure.

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