Ralph Burton is a miner who is trapped for several days as a result of a cave-in. When he finally manages to dig himself out, he realizes that all of mankind seems to have been destroyed in a nuclear holocaust. He travels to New York City only to find it deserted. Making a life for himself there, he is flabbergasted to eventually find Sarah Crandall, who also managed to survive. Together, they form a close friendship until the arrival of Benson Thacker who has managed to pilot his small boat into the city's harbor. At this point the tensions rise between the three, particularly between Thacker, who is white and Burton, who is black. Written by
On the bookshelf behind the bed in which Ben Thacker is recovering, is a copy of "The Proud Land" by James Lee Bartlow. This is the book supposedly written by Bartlow, played by Dick Powell in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952). See more »
As the three survivors join hands and walk off together at the end, flocks of pigeons suddenly appear. Since the radiation had killed off all life forms that were exposed to the atmosphere, how did any pigeons survive? See more »
Grim tale of survivors after the blast...but poorly executed...
The writer took an interesting premise and kept it going with some credibility for the first half-hour. But the moment that HARRY BELAFONTE finds that he's not alone in the world and INGER STEVENS enters the story, it falls apart faster than you can blink. Nor are the interracial aspects of the friendship between Stevens and Belafonte played in a realistic way.
Even given the fact that this is science fiction, and we always have to suspend some disbelief to enjoy such a tale, there are too many plot contrivances that don't make sense. Stevens' character has been following Belafonte around for a couple of weeks before she dares to make a connection to him--highly unlikely. MEL FERRER turns up on a river barge having been all over the world looking for survivors and found none--apparently not even bodies. And yet we see pigeons on the streets of New York City early in the morning but a complete lack of corpses anywhere. Nevertheless, stores and wiring and electricity are almost untouched and there's even running water in the kitchen.
But what keeps the film on a lower level is the talent involved. HARRY BELAFONTE gives the most genuine performance here, but that's not saying much when you have the wooden MEL FERRER and the overly emotional INGER STEVENS tossing off lines as though they were doing a run through rehearsal for the senior play. Belafonte is fortunate in that his character seems the most logical and inventive of the three, while the plot gets sillier the moment the men start arguing over the attractive blonde and some racial remarks are made.
It doesn't help that the dialog is often childish or stilted and that Ranald MacDougall's screenplay and direction is unable to bring these characters alive and give them any depth. After the realistic first half-hour, the rest of the film is a letdown.
Miklos Rozsa's score is fittingly as low-key as the scenes showing a deserted city, but it has to be one of his least memorable works.
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