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
The three survivors watch two "News of the Day" news reels. The first is "Faulty Wire Trips the Vanguard" (1958) with commentary by Michael Fitzmaurice, although only 25 seconds (from 0:30 to 0:55) of the 63-second news reel is shown in the movie. The second is "World Lovelies Take Ferris Ride" (1959) with commentary by Peter Roberts showing candidates for the Miss Universe contest at Palisades Park, New Jersey. The copyright date of the second news reel is unreadable and appears to have been made out of focus on purpose. See more »
Ralph throws the mannequin from his apartment and its leg is at least three feet from the curb. But, when he gets down to the street, the mannequin's foot is on the curb. See more »
Harry Belafonte emerges from a mine after an accident and discovers that the world is deserted, except for Inger Stevens and Mel Ferrer.
Some kind of nuclear war has taken place and there are few survivors. No dead bodies, no rotting corpses. No physical body traces of any kind.
Some people have said that Ferrer played a bigot in this film, but I didn't see much of that at all since the main conflict between Belafonte and Ferrer is based more on lust than anything else.
But since this is 1959, we can't show interracial love onscreen because many parts of the country would wind up banning the film, so MGM and Belafonte keep the lust toned down and mostly implied. The viewer should just look at it in the context of the times that it was made in, and not try to apply 2003 standards to something filmed over 40 years ago.
The deserted lower Manhattan streets including Times Square look pretty cool. They must have filmed them on an early Sunday morning in order to keep any traffic disruption to a minimum.
And the ending resorts to a preachy "The Beginning" stamped across the screen as the three of them walk down a deserted Manhattan street. I guess only goodwill comes next, huh?
If you want to see a better "end of the world" flick from the same period, then check out the Arch Oboler's rarely-seen FIVE (1951) or Stanley Kramer's ON THE BEACH, made during the same year as this one. I thought they were done better.
5 out of 10 for clearing out New York in time.
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