On the Beach (1959)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi  |  17 December 1959 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 8,840 users  
Reviews: 152 user | 38 critic

After a global nuclear war, the residents of Australia must come to terms with the fact that all life will be destroyed in a matter of months.



(screenplay), (novel)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
John Tate ...
Harp McGuire ...
Lola Brooks ...
Ken Wayne ...
Richard Meikle ...
Joe McCormick ...
Lou Vernon ...
Kevin Brennan ...


In 1964, atomic war wipes out humanity in the northern hemisphere; one American submarine finds temporary safe haven in Australia, where life-as-usual covers growing despair. In denial about the loss of his wife and children in the holocaust, American Captain Towers meets careworn but gorgeous Moira Davidson, who begins to fall for him. The sub returns after reconnaissance a month (or less) before the end; will Towers and Moira find comfort with each other? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Romance | Sci-Fi


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

17 December 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La hora final  »

Box Office


$2,900,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The U.S. Department of Defense and the United States Navy declined to cooperate in the production of this film, including access to a nuclear-powered submarine, which forced the film production to use a non-nuclear, diesel-electric Royal Navy submarine, HMS Andrew (RN submarines were based in Australia until 1967 when the RAN commissioned its own submarines). See more »


Despite being in and running in the radiation suit for so much time, the man never has any sweat on his face. See more »


[first lines]
Dwight Towers: Prepare to surface.
See more »

Crazy Credits

and Introducing Donna Anderson See more »


Remade as On the Beach (2000) See more »


Onward, Christian Soldiers
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Lyrics by Sabine Baring-Gould
See more »

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User Reviews

Gives new meaning to the word 'shudder'
26 September 2002 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

I made the mistake of watching this film at 11 pm, in a theater with only 4 other people. We were scattered about...and alone. I have seldom wanted to be in a group as much as I did that night. I almost got up and went to sit in a row with one of the 4. Directing? Brilliant. Cinematography? Brilliant. The cast? Exceptional. Ava Gardner (still beautiful), Gregory Peck, Fred Astair and Anthony Perkins are inspired. I have always wanted to go to Australia. Many years later I got the chance. As the coast of Sydney came into view I started to cry...and didn't know why? Then I realized, I was 'hearing' Waltzing Matilda and remembering.

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