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On the Beach (1959)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Sci-Fi  |  17 December 1959 (USA)
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 8,419 users  
Reviews: 150 user | 35 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.

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(screenplay), (novel)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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John Tate ...
Harp McGuire ...
Lola Brooks ...
Ken Wayne ...
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Richard Meikle ...
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Joe McCormick ...
Lou Vernon ...
Kevin Brennan ...
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Storyline

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

Genres:

Drama | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 December 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Hora Final  »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,900,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Gregory Peck was a lifelong opponent of nuclear weapons, and made On the Beach (1959) for this reason. See more »

Goofs

At the Holmes' party, Dwight asks Moira about Julian, saying, "I take it that he's English and that he's here on some kind of scientific job", and later on, during the sub's cruise, Julian tells Peter he'd been in San Francisco "once on the way down", presumably from England. All this makes it appear that Julian has not been in Australia long and had not intended to stay before the war broke out. But why then does he appear to be friends of long standing with so many people (such as the party guests), not to mention his having had an apparently long-ended love affair with Moira? See more »

Quotes

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

Crazy Credits

and Introducing Donna Anderson See more »

Connections

Featured in The Rotten Tomatoes Show: Watchmen/Shuttle/12 (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Waltzing Matilda
Music by Marie Cowan
Lyrics by A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson (as A.B. Paterson)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
a great human drama
20 May 1999 | by See all my reviews

The Cold War aspects of this movie may be a bit dated, but for those of us of a certain age it is a reminder of the fears we lived under at that time. In retrospect, it may be that Julian was wrong: it may have indeed been the very presence of these terrible weapons that prevented a third world war.

In any case, that aspect of the story never overshadows the movie's underlying theme, which is, rather, how each of us views the sum of our lives as our mortal end approaches. Are we alone? Have we connected with anyone? Have we failed? Have we loved? Have we been loved?

Color would have been all wrong for this essentially b&w story. Superb performances from Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire and the pre-Norman Bates Anthony Perkins. A fine bit as well by John Tate as the old admiral("to a blind, blind world").

A mere cold-war nuclear destruction movie would leave one merely frightened at the end. The fact that this movie leaves you with an almost unbearable feeling of terrible sadness is a testament to the human power of Nevil Shute's book, as well as to the fine script and Kramer's superb direction.

One of the most depressing movies ever made, but a truly great one.


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