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The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)

Unrated  |   |  Drama, Sci-Fi, Romance  |  May 1962 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 3,102 users  
Reviews: 59 user | 65 critic

When the USA and Russia unwittingly test atomic bombs at the same time, it alters the nutation (axis of rotation) of the Earth.



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


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Drama | Sci-Fi | Romance


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

May 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

...e la Terra prese fuoco  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)


(with tinted sequences)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The scenes of the "Met Office" were filmed both outside and inside the Ministry of Defence Main Building in Whitehall. This access was remarkable. Those interiors were little changed until refurbishment of MOD after 2000. See more »


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 »


Bill Maguire: [Maguire is on the phone to the editor after a pile of letters about nuclear tests is dumped on his desk] What am I supposed to do with these protest letters?
Bill Maguire: Thank you very much but there are seventeen hundred of them.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


References Annie Get Your Gun (1950) See more »


Camptown Races
Composed by Stephen Foster
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User Reviews

long afternoon of earth
23 May 2006 | by (Rain City, Pacific Northwest) – See all my reviews

The late great VAL GUEST did a spot on job with this terrific doomsday thriller. Guest worked as a newspaper man during his early years and he gets the details of the journalism business just right.It is this characteristic that helps ground the film in a believable reality;the science is a bit wonky but who cares? This film has got some excellent performances, especially from Leo McKern and (in his 1st and only acting job) real life newspaper king Aurthur Christiensen (who I think gives a marvelous performance--i was surprised to hear Guest comment that he had a difficult time memorizing his lines) The main character played by Edward Judd is a bit of an irritating jerk--sunk in self pity and equipped with a series of annoying one-liners that are designed to show everyone how "hip" and "edgy" he is, but he just comes across as unlikable. The SPFX are not too shabby considering the miniscule budget. The DVD version of this film has an excellent commentary by Mr Guest who provides a lot of interesting information. The very first shots of this movie--with Edward Judd plodding thru an empty sun-blasted London to his newspaper offices downtown--is still a benchmark for low budget ingenuity and it is really a treat to seeTHE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE with the original red-tinted bookends; I first saw this film in the early 90's on VHS and even without them it was impressive--butit looks even better with the colored gels! THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE will remain one of the best apocalyptic films ever made.Its an enduring testament to the talent of VAL GUEST,who has recently shuffled off this mortal coil... may he rest in peace.

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