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The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)

 -  Drama | Sci-Fi | Romance  -  May 1962 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 2,581 users  
Reviews: 54 user | 43 critic

When the USA and Russia test atomic bombs at the same time, it knocks the Earth out its orbit and sends it spiraling toward the Sun.

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Title: The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)

The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) on IMDb 7.2/10

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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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This movie is based on a true story as written in A.P. Scotland's autobiography "The London Cage". The plot has greatly exaggerated the actual events of A.P. Scotland's experiences, including the addition of a fictional love interest.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Jeannie Craig
...
Bill Maguire
Edward Judd ...
Peter Stenning
...
'Jacko' Jackson - Night Editor
Bernard Braden ...
'Dave' Davis - News Editor
Reginald Beckwith ...
Harry
Gene Anderson ...
May
Renée Asherson ...
Angela
Arthur Christiansen ...
'Jeff' Jefferson - Editor
Austin Trevor ...
Sir John Kelly
Edward Underdown ...
Dick Sanderson
Ian Ellis ...
Michael Stenning
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Storyline

Hysterical panic has engulfed the world after the United States and the Soviet Union simultaneously detonate nuclear devices and have caused the orbit of the Earth to alter, sending it hurtling towards the sun. Written by Fernando <diamond@argenet.com.ar>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The INCREDIBLE becomes Real! The IMPOSSIBLE becomes Fact! The UNBELIEVABLE becomes True! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Sci-Fi | Romance

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

May 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

...e la Terra prese fuoco  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(with tinted sequences)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Editor James Needs used stock footage from Hammer's The Quatermass Xperiment (1955), also directed by Val Guest of a fire truck racing through the night past the patrol station in Bray. See more »

Goofs

In the movie, several people in North London contract "typhus" from contaminated water. Evidently the script confused "typhus" and "typhoid fever." Typhus is spread by parasites, such as fleas or mites; not contaminated water. Typhoid fever can be spread by contaminated food or water. See more »

Quotes

[Jeannie is working as a telephone operator; this is the first time she's talking with Peter Stenning]
Peter Stenning: Look, just tell Mr. Holroyd!
[aside to Leo]
Peter Stenning: This girl's a bigger threat than radiation!
Jeannie Craig: I heard that remark.
See more »

Crazy Credits

There are no end credits whatsoever (not even a "The End" caption); merely a fade to black. See more »

Connections

Featured in Godzilla (1977) See more »

Soundtracks

Camptown Races
(uncredited)
Composed by Stephen Foster
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Timeless, compelling sci-fi drama
28 January 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

After more than forty years, this film is still a milestone in the science fiction genre. In its day, it was years ahead of its time. It had characters that acted like real people, instead of like John Agar and Lori Nelson. It contained a clearly implied sexual relationship between the two main characters, in an era when filmmakers were still routinely depicting even married couples as sleeping in separate beds. It was filled with shocking insinuations that the government is not all-wise and benevolent, that science doesn't really have all the answers, that the military is capable of blunders that put new meaning into the phrase "friendly fire," and that all may not be well, after all.

The film's greatest strength is in its understated, matter-of-fact presentation of the characters' various reactions to the relentlessly deteriorating situation. The performances are consistently honest and compelling, from the principal players down to the smallest walk-on parts. The award-winning script by Wolf Mankowitz is at times almost too clever for its own good. If there is one criticism that may be leveled against it, it is that most real people are not that consistently witty. Occasionally they are at a loss for words. Occasionally they say things that are lame, stupid, and altogether inappropriate. And this is the one element that was pretty much absent from the dialogue.

In an age when movies are being strangled to death by their own special effects, and character development often does not extend beyond the crudest bodily functions and four-letter expletives, it is genuinely refreshing to return to a film such as this one. Not only does it not rely on visual effects to tell its story, it is really so little dependent on the visual that it could have been equally successful as a radio drama (a forgotten art form nowadays), and might very well have caused an even greater panic than Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds."


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