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The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)

Unrated | | Drama, Sci-Fi, Romance | May 1962 (USA)
When the U.S. and Russia unwittingly test atomic bombs at the same time, it alters the nutation (axis of rotation) of the Earth.

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Writers:

(written for the screen by), (written for the screen by)
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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
'Jacko' Jackson - Night Editor
Bernard Braden ...
'Dave' Davis - News Editor
Reginald Beckwith ...
Harry
Gene Anderson ...
May
...
Angela
Arthur Christiansen ...
...
Edward Underdown ...
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 causing a change to the nutation (axis of rotation) of the Earth. 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:

The Day the Earth Caught Fire  »

Box Office

Budget:

£200,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(with tinted sequences)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In an early scene Jeannie is struggling with a Roneo stencil duplicator, saying it is "over-inking". The Roneo company threatened to sue the producers for the potential damage to the reputation of their products. 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

Editor (Jeff): They say that those two bangs did more than alter the tilt. They made an eleven-degree shift in our orbit... and we're moving towards the sun.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in Matinee (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Camptown Races
(uncredited)
Composed by Stephen Foster
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User Reviews

 
Supreme film-making
3 July 2006 | by (Copenhagen, Denmark) – See all my reviews

What an absolutely devastating movie! I am still completely engrossed in it, and it has been a while since I took the DVD out of the player.

Was any science fiction movie ever more ambitious than this one? The staggering opening, tinted in reddish yellow and brilliantly composed in widescreen, looks like Tarkovsky and Lars von Trier, and has the same dry wasteland quality to it. Callous and unpublicized nuclear tests by both the Soviet Union and the US have upset the environment, causing record-breaking heat waves, floods, cyclones, eclipses, and what not, and we gradually find out that Earth has tilted and is hurtling towards the Sun where, in four months' time, the universe will savor "the delightful smell of charcoaled mankind", as put by a cynical newspaperman. The largest nuclear bomb ever made will now be detonated in Siberia, and no one knows what will happen now ... The environmentalist discourse seems extremely contemporary to us today.

Now, how to make intelligent, thoughtful entertainment out of that pulp?! Leave it to writer-director Val Guest who more than rose to the task. He put a heartbroken, newly divorced and slightly alcoholized reporter in the center, working for the London Daily News. He tries, with his science editor and surrogate father, to delve into what went wrong and who is responsible, and he falls in love with a switchboard girl with a cleavage. All this to keep the movie grounded, the drama realistic. All of this naturalistic drama is cross-edited with stock newsreel footage of natural disasters, and it works. It works supremely well, and you are sucked into the action, as the end of the world approaches.

All the actors are brilliant, not least Edward Judd as the main reporter, cynical, witty, vulnerable.


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