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On the Beach
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On the Beach More at IMDbPro »

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A Prophecy

10/10
Author: W. Stevens (ws632739@aol.com) from Ft. Lauderdale, FL
27 September 2001

I was 14 years old, and took a bus to a nearby town to see this movie. I was fascinated by the subject of total extinction since I was small enough to be told to fear the other side and what it could do to us. Everyone else of my age at that time was interested in beach blanket movie crap. (they still are). Now after 9/11, maybe it'll come true. The human race seems to know no other way except greed (in any manifestation) and self-hatred. Good. Maybe in a million or so years some life form will emerge which will see its way towards total spiritual and physical evolution and not be burdened with physical wealth, ham-handed patriotism and, above all, religion. Yeah, right. Anyway, the movie was well-acted and still haunts me today, 42 years later.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Touching

9/10
Author: Ilona Ward (kameleontti) from Oulu, Finland
13 September 2001

"On the beach" is a wonderful movie. I knew something about the plot beforehand but I wasn't expecting much from a movie this old. The beginning seemed a bit boring, but it starts "going up" very soon. They tell us what has happened and what is going to happen very fine way, no need to say everything straight. This movie trusts that the person watching is intelligent enough to understand the hints. Good movie can be made without stunning special effects: sometimes silence can be amazingly powerful effect. Music is also used well in this movie, all though it could have been multifaceted.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Powerful message -- still relevant

Author: Matthew Ignoffo (mermatt@webtv.net) from Eatontown, NJ, USA
19 November 2000

I remember reading the book and then seeing the movie when the Cold War was reaching its height. It was frightening then, and it is still a sobering and horrifying film -- all the more because it is so muted and understated.

The cast is marvelous, the simple music is haunting, and the message at the end must not be missed. There is still time to prevent the madness of nuclear war.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Best saddest movie ever.

10/10
Author: miles_to_go_before from Canada
28 February 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is probably one of my favourite movies. I've read recently that the author Neville Shutte was very unhappy with the fact that in the movie the two lead characters Dwight and Moira consummated their relationship. In the novel they did not. To me Both Kramer and Shutte are both correct. The movie would not have been nearly so powerful without that wonderful scene in the cabin with the tenor singing in the background. Dwight surrendering to Moira is sad. By giving in he is admitting that his wife is gone. His children are gone.

In the novel a consummation of their relationship can not possibly have had the same emotional effect. Therefore it is totally correct to have Dwight remain 'faithful' to his deceased wife.

An important movie for it's time. Wonderful novel, wonderful movie. Wonderful memories.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

What will YOU do while waiting to die?

Author: (futures@exis.net) from Ronn Ives/FUTURES Antiques, Norfolk, VA.
10 March 2006

"On the Beach" (1959): Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire, Anthony Perkins, directed by Stanley Kramer. We find ourselves in the near-future of 1964, Australia. There is an odd, "informal" feeling to what we see. People are tired or depressed or drinking excessively…is THIS was Australians are like? We then learn that the Atomic War is OVER, the rest of the planet is, they suspect, now dead, and radioactive clouds are finally headed for Australia – the last location with clean air. People are in denial or trying to prepare. There are no scientists madly searching for a last-minute cure. Everyone does a decent job depicting people trying to be stoic or fatalistic or casual as their deaths approach. The photography is good, but if I could, I would rip 90% of the scoring OUT – since it uses "Waltzing Matilda" REPEATEDLY (in a variety of styles for moods), which really got under my skin - and I don't mean in a good way. The individual situations we see are powerful, the reactions to their realities thoughtful and sad. This is one of the ultimate Cold War/anti-war films. It may not be equal to "Failsafe", but it's up there.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A doomsday thriller which plays to the intellect.

9/10
Author: Dknapp138 from United States
13 January 2005

I have seen this movie, in the original format (Peck/Gardner, b&w) as well as in the revised version with Edmond Arsante from the 90's in color. The newer version plays entirely to the emotions, as opposed to the older version which plays on the intellect. The end of the 1959 version has a message to make one ponder. The new version has a U.S. Naval commander pleasing the emotions by deserting his ship and crew on it's final cruise, to stay with the lovely ingénue, who looked strikingly like Ava Gardner, and perhaps gave the best performance of the movie. Ponder history and the future, or bite off some self-serving, irresponsible activity at the end of the world? The black and white film far surpasses the glitzy remake, and the character of the characters stands head and shoulder higher.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A haunting, true to life masterpiece.

Author: Danielle Harmer (dan_diesel2002) from Norfolk, England
24 September 2002

What a fantastic and thought provoking film. I watched this with my Dad one Sunday evening. I was about 12 at the time and could think of nothing worse than enduring some old fashioned film which I didn't think I would understand...how wrong I was! It really affected me and I have remembered it to this day as being one of my favourite films of all time.

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5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Like watching paint dry.

4/10
Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
12 September 2015

Stanley Kramer and John Paxton adapt from Nevil Shute's novel. Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire, Anthony Perkins and Donna Anderson star, with music by Ernest Gold and cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno.

After a global nuclear war, the inhabitants of Australia realise that the radiation clouds are heading their way. A group of people try to come to terms with this fact.

A well regarded film by the critics, and lauded by the makers at the time as an important and potent piece of cinema, On the Beach is still a film that's not for everyone.

The star appeal holds weight, though much of the narrative is tired and weary, trite and cheesy. In fact Shute himself was less than happy with what Kramer made of his literary source, the director in his element with a message movie.

If it was Kramer's intent to make the viewers also feel like what it's like waiting for death? Then he achieved it, while Gold's overuse of Waltzing Matilda in his musical score also ends up boring the senses. 4/10

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5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

On the Beach-Off to the End We Go **

4/10
Author: edwagreen from United States
8 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

An extremely depressing tale where people living in Australia are waiting to breathe in the radiation from a nuclear disaster so that they can meet their ultimate fate.

As always, Ava Gardner proves herself to be a miserable actress, but at least in this film she can blame the depressing psychological material. At least. no one blows themselves anyway with a pistol.

Anthony Perkins doesn't want his wife to go before their baby daughter. He gives his wife pills. I thought she would use them way before the film despite her protests about such a way to go.

Gregory Peck is a very complex character here. He really doesn't seem too devastated by the fact that his wife and two children perished in the U.S. Instead, he finds love with Miss Gardner.

The real surprise is Fred Astaire here who gives a moving performance. However, even he is caught up by what is to come so he allows the motor to run. That would have been the thing to do with the writing of this abysmal junk.

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5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Death by whimper

8/10
Author: Spleen from Canberra, Australia
12 July 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ava Gardner's remark about Melbourne- "a perfect place for a story about the end of the world" - was spot on, if not for the reasons she had in mind. (I don't know what reasons she had in mind.) Contrary to popular belief Melbourne is the nicest city in Australia, both to visit and to live in; Sydney appeals chiefly to people who haven't been to Melbourne. I suspect this is something that hasn't changed since the 1950s. Obviously they had to set the story in a REAL city, a somewhere that wouldn't otherwise feel isolated; and it also had to be a place where we could look around and think, "In other circumstances, this could be paradise."

When I think of Stanley Kramer I think of dull, worthy "message" movies - which is more due to the titles and plot synopses than to anything else, since I've yet to see a single film of his that exudes dull worthiness. This one certainly doesn't. You could watch it and never realise that it was originally made for a Cold War audience, so completely is it concerned with what remains of the lives of the people left around AFTER the war.

Just one thing bothered me: a dragged-out ending. It was as if Kramer had half a dozen satisfying conclusions before him, and, unable to part with any of them, showed us all of them one after the other, concluding with the weakest. But in fact this was a wise choice. It's best for us to hang in there until the story is completely over, and every single human being has perished.

P.S. - slight spoiler -: I loved the car race metaphor. It's been Fred Astaire's lifelong desire to take part in such a race, and as it happens he "wins" - because almost every other car is destroyed. In a similar fashion ANZUS "won" the war.

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