The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)

Unrated  |   |  Drama, Sci-Fi, Romance  |  May 1962 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.2/10 from 3,161 users  
Reviews: 61 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)
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A dying scientist pushes forward his project to tap through to the Earth's magma layer, with results that threaten to destroy the Earth as we know it.

Director: Andrew Marton
Stars: Dana Andrews, Janette Scott, Kieron Moore
Adventure | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Based on the HG Wells story. The world is delighted when a space craft containing a crew made up of the world's astronauts lands on the moon, they think for the first time. But the delight ... See full summary »

Director: Nathan Juran
Stars: Edward Judd, Martha Hyer, Lionel Jeffries
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

The European Space Exploration Council sends two astronauts to explore a planet similar to the Earth but located on the opposite side of the sun.

Director: Robert Parrish
Stars: Roy Thinnes, Ian Hendry, Patrick Wymark
Sci-Fi | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Professor Quatermass, trying to gather support for his Lunar colonisation project, is intrigued by mysterious traces that have been showing up.

Director: Val Guest
Stars: Brian Donlevy, John Longden, Sidney James
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A shower of meteorites produces a glow that blinds anyone that looks at it. As it was such a beautiful sight, most people were watching, and as a consequence, 99% of the population go blind... See full summary »

Directors: Steve Sekely, Freddie Francis
Stars: Nicole Maurey, Howard Keel, Janette Scott
Horror | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A family of four leaves Los Angeles for a camping trip just before a nuclear bomb destroys the city. As lawlessness prevails, the father must fight to keep his family alive.

Director: Ray Milland
Stars: Ray Milland, Jean Hagen, Frankie Avalon
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

In the countryside of London, a rocket crashes on a farm and Professor Bernard Quatermass and Scotland Yard Inspector Lomax arrive in the spot. The rocket was launched by Prof. Quatermass ... See full summary »

Director: Val Guest
Stars: Brian Donlevy, Jack Warner, Margia Dean
Sci-Fi | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A mysterious artifact is unearthed in London, and famous scientist Bernard Quatermass is called into to divine its origins and explain its strange effects on people.

Director: Roy Ward Baker
Stars: James Donald, Andrew Keir, Barbara Shelley
Horror | Mystery | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

Aliens come to Earth seeking scientists to help them in their war.

Director: Joseph M. Newman
Stars: Jeff Morrow, Faith Domergue, Rex Reason
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A spaceship from another world crashes in the Arizona desert, and only an amateur stargazer and a schoolteacher suspect alien influence when the local townsfolk begin to act strange.

Director: Jack Arnold
Stars: Richard Carlson, Barbara Rush, Charles Drake
Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

When the Earth is threatened by a burning Van Allen Radiation Belt, US Navy Admiral Harriman Nelson plans to shoot a nuclear missile at the Belt using his experimental atomic submarine, the Seaview.

Director: Irwin Allen
Stars: Walter Pidgeon, Joan Fontaine, Barbara Eden
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

The first U.S. spaceship to Venus crash-lands off the coast of Sicily on its return trip. A dangerous, lizard-like creature comes with it and quickly grows gigantic.

Director: Nathan Juran
Stars: William Hopper, Joan Taylor, Thomas Browne Henry


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 ...
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:

The Day the Earth Caught Fire  »

Box Office


£200,000 (estimated)

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?


Bill Maguire quotes Dante Alighieri's poem "Divine Comedy": "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here." See more »


When Bill and his son are exiting the car on the Ghost Train dark ride, they stand there and talk to Bill's ex wife. The next car exiting the ride has two women who get up and leave the car. A few moments later, another car exits the ride, and the same two women stand up and leave the car. See more »


Bill Maguire: [reading a newswire] There's a chap in Leeds says he can extract water from the atmosphere. Oh, as you were, he's been certified.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Referenced in Matinee (1993) See more »


Camptown Races
Composed by Stephen Foster
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A sobering movie
24 October 2002 | by (newcastle upon tyne) – See all my reviews

Have you noticed how the troubles of the world echoe exactly those of Judd's character?

He is a drunk drying out so is the earth.

He is lost in the heat mist just as he has lost his way in life.

The mists suddenly clear when he gets laid.

The two newspaper headlines at the end of the film refer as much to his personal survival, and to the fragile nature of his relationship to the heroine, as to the hopes of the planet. Who can say what the future holds for the individual, perhaps we can only pray it will be good.

Add to the alogary a nostalgia for the commeraderie of the war years, a documentary style view of the press, some very funny lines for Leo and an early appearance by Michael Caine, and you have a great film.

11 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
One of the great finishses to a movie davebesag
sexy philipshepp
After the second bombs david_colbourne
This will probably annoy a few people but.... dgm82
Cinema and TV Versions Foley_Artist
Peace symbol? saginaw1
Discuss The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: