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The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi | 20 May 1959 (USA)
A miner trapped in a cave-in resurfaces, and upon discovering mankind has been wiped out in a nuclear holocaust, sets out to find other survivors.



(novel) (as Matthew Phipps Shiel), (story "End of the World") | 1 more credit »

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1 nomination. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:


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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

trapped | miner | cave in | harbor | boat | See All (30) »


Which One Gets The Last Girl On Earth? See more »


Drama | Romance | Sci-Fi


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

20 May 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The End of the World  »

Box Office


$1,659,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)|

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Inger Stevens went on to star in the tv series "The Farmer's Daughter" and later starred in the first Clint Eastwood Hollywood western "Hang 'Em High". See more »


The newspaper reporting the end of the world has no printing on the back. See more »


Benson Thacker: I have nothing against negroes, Ralph.
Ralph Burton: That's white of you.
See more »

Crazy Credits

As the films final credits cuts-in, the film states "The Beginning" rather than "The End". See more »


Featured in Sing Your Song (2011) See more »


Written by Alan Greene and Robert Nemiroff
Sung by Harry Belafonte
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Grim tale of survivors after the blast...but poorly executed...
9 May 2008 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

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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