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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
Ralph sets up a top-of-the-line Lionel Super O train set in his apartment. See more »
While Ralph is being pursued by Ben near the end of the film, he comes to the United Nations complex. Although there is no electric power in the city (except where Ralph has installed a generator), lights can be seen through the windows of the Secretariat tower. See more »
Belafonte on Ferrer's possible racial bias: No, the only thing he has against me is that I'm younger than he is. I can understand that.
In the '50s the nuclear holocaust was never far from the popular imagination. This picture is one of many fictional efforts to show what might have happened.
By being trapped in a Pennsylvania mine, Belafonte is one of the very few people on earth (as far as we know from the film, only three) to escape annihilation. He manages to get out of the mine on his own (the first of many plot contrivances), goes to New York City and finds it depopulated, except for Inger Stevens, who eventually comes out of hiding. It's mostly a picture about loneliness. As much as we may resent the jostling masses in our midst, what if they were gone?
Actually, it spurs a fantasy, too. Imagine that you had the pickings of all of New York to yourself, and imagine that you were a handyman who could rig up generators and the like, and imagine that you found a comely woman to keep you company. Could be worse.
But we are asked to ignore too much in the picture, the fact that only one person in all of the city survived, the fact that not a single rotting body is shown on the streets, the fact that the shortwave transmissions Belafonte regularly monitors show that the rest of the world is empty, too (except, eventually, for Mel Ferrer, who was sailing during the nuclear blasts)-- all a bit too much. The film tries too hard to be an allegory when it should have been good, logical science fantasy.
Nevertheless, TWTF&TD is well worth a watch.
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