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On the Beach (1959)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Sci-Fi  |  17 December 1959 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 8,749 users  
Reviews: 152 user | 37 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 5 wins & 6 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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | 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?


Gregory Peck was a lifelong opponent of nuclear weapons, and made On the Beach (1959) for this reason. Peck believed atomic weapons should not have been used during World War II, and the reason for Japan's surrender was the Soviet Union's declaration of war on 9 August 1945 and simultaneous invasion of Manchuria. See more »


Near the end of film when Moira is watching the Sawfish leaving Port Phillip Bay, it's evident in the wide shot that the sail of the Sawfish is clear. However, in the tight shot of the sail before that, while other crew are clearing the sail, Waters is still on the sail, then after the close-up of Moira, Waters is shown in close-up still atop the sail. See more »


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

Crazy Credits

and Introducing Donna Anderson See more »


Referenced in Hollywood Hist-o-Rama: Gregory Peck (1962) See more »


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

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User Reviews

Powerful Without Being Pretentious
14 August 1999 | by (Morristown, NJ) – See all my reviews

"On The Beach", despite it's heavy subject of a nuclear holocaust wiping out all human life, succeeds because Stanley Kramer is mercifully more restrained and less pretentious than he would later be in "Inherit The Wind" and "Judgment At Nuremberg", which are memorable more for their polemics than their characters, in my opinion. Except for one minor speech by Fred Astaire at one point (which as the previous reviewer noted is somewhat ironic in light of the fact that the very thing Astaire rails against, the idea that large nuclear stockpiles could keep the peace, turned out to be absolutely true) the film is for the most part about people and how they react to the knowledge that their world and their lives will soon come to an end. This is what makes the film so compelling as far as I'm concerned. The cast is excellent, with fine performances by Astaire (his first non-musical part), Anthony Perkins and Gregory Peck. But the real strength of the movie is Ava Gardner's touching performance as the lonely, alcoholic Moira Davidson who manages for one brief moment before the end to find true love with Peck. Having read much about her life, there is something almost hauntingly autobiographic in Gardner's portrayal, and that only adds to the movie's overall poignance.

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