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The Day the Earth Caught Fire
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Index 65 reviews in total 

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A Sci Fi Great

Author: andymallinson from London, England
17 May 2004

A tense and gripping movie that runs at a fast pace, capturing the essence of London at the height of the cold war.

Loosely based on Science fact and intermingled with just a smidgen of hysteria. I imagine that many left the cinema in its day with a heavy stomach.

A classic which probably inspired many students to march in protest through the pavements of London.

Its one of my all time favourite films and thats some achievement, for a wee nipper like me, especially considering its in black and white!

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

This movie doesn't exactly catch fire, but is quite good

Author: funkyfry from Oakland CA
9 October 2002

A solid end-of-the-world morality tale from Val Guest, in his realistic tone and setting. The dialogue is crisp and the story moves along briskly. Nice effects work by Les Bowie's underrated crew make mist and cyclones batter London as the earth is propelled toward the sun. The performances are spirited and Munro is sexy as the love interest to answer everyone's question -- what would YOU do at the end of the world?

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

excellent for its time

Author: jane_coburn from United Kingdom
6 July 2016

I first saw this movie when I was a child. I loved it then and now I have it on DVD I watch it when I want a good story rather than wall to wall cgi. It is one of the best for its time. It is well thought out, well written, well acted and well directed. Even the Express editor was good as he isn't an actor at all. He added authentication to the story. There is not to much in the way of personal love story and what there is does not interfere with the main story to much. No sad "I love you" lines. No hysterical kids or women. It is a wonderful look at the sudden and total collapse of society and how people deal with the high possibility of the end of the world. The end of movie was made with two endings of the possible outcome of the solution to the problem. only one was used. I leave to those wanting to see to find out which end it is.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Dry Heat, World's End

Author: AaronCapenBanner from North America
19 October 2014

Val Guest directed this apocalyptic sci-fi thriller that stars Edward Judd & Leo McKern as newspaper journalists in Britain who come to the awful conclusion that the world has been tilted on its axis, hurtling toward the sun after both American & Russian forces conduct nuclear tests that backfire badly, threatening the entire human race. Janet Munro plays Judd's contact and love interest, as things start to heat up... Talky film is well acted, with some memorable scenes, and a most striking(if understated) ending, but is marred by a slow pace and dry, arid atmosphere that makes film a hard(but still worthwhile) haul. Doesn't quite live up to that title...

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Simply great sci-fi film-making

Author: tomgillespie2002 from United Kingdom
1 September 2011

When Earth starts to experience strange changes in the weather and a rapidly increasing temperature, down-in-the-dumps Daily Express journalist Peter Stenning (Edward Judd) is given the investigation. Science correspondent Bill Maguire (Leo McKern) seems to think that simultaneous nuclear tests by the U.S. and the Soviet Union have knocked the Earth off it's axis, causing it to drift closer to the sun. Stenning is snooping around the Met Office looking for answers when he meets young telephone operator Jeannie (Janet Munro) who may have unwillingly stumbled upon the truth. Meanwhile, with the temperatures increasing at an unbearable rate, the government starts to ration supplies, including the nation's water.

I must admit that upon getting a copy of this, I was expecting a stiff- upper-lipped and cheesy British sci-fi full of dodgy effects and predictable plot devices. How wrong I was. If this film could be compared to any other, it would have to be All The President's Men. It is very rare that a film manages to capture the sweat, stress and panic of the newsroom where the workers gather round for quick meetings and discussions before franticly typing up a new story and making those all- important phone calls. And the decision to tell the whole story from the viewpoint of the Daily Express workers is a refreshing and exciting one.

The hero is not a bland, square-jawed cheeseball that was common in the sci-fi films of the 50's and 60's, but a borderline alcoholic who is struggling with the separation from his wife and the fact that his boss gives him all the bottom-shelf stories. And he is played with utter conviction by Edward Judd. In fact, the acting is impressive all-round - Leo McKern is solid as the reliable workaholic who seems to be one step ahead of everybody else, and Janet Munro is sweet, interesting and sexy as the innocent girl who seems to be somehow caught up in everything. The film has a quite shocking level of flesh on display too, and if you're perverted or simply lonely enough, I'm sure you could even catch a nipple if you freeze-frame the DVD. (Not that I did it!)

As a Cold War sci-fi, the film could work as double-bill alongside the truly perfect The Day The Earth Stood Still. Although it differs in tone and subject matter, it still has the underlying feeling of paranoia that plagued sci-fi films of the time, and allowed for some of the greatest films of the genre to be produced. The threat of nuclear war was lingering in everybody's mind (I assume, I know it would if I was there) and the end of the world was all too believable and possible. This is a criminally underrated film - beautifully filmed (the sun-kissed sepia opening is simply gorgeous); a script that any Oscar-winner would be proud of; and has an ending so bleak and unresolved it deserves a place amongst the very best. Simply great sci-fi film-making.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The first--and so far the best--"global warming" movie

Author: sdlitvin from Lowell, MA
29 June 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Earth's climate is heating up--and humans have to figure out how to cope with it.

The movie was made in 1960, at the height of the Cold War--so in the movie, nuclear weapons, rather than greenhouse gases, are the culprit. But most of what you see transpiring could happen just as easily as the greenhouse effect increases. (Someone could really do a superb remake of this movie today, blaming CO2 instead of nukes.) In this movie, there are no jaw-dropping special effects, just ordinary folks struggling to cope with the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced. As seen through the eyes of newspaper reporters, who report the facts to their readers--and try to figure out what it all means.

A taut script, excellent acting, taut direction, good characterizations, and docudrama-like realism all keep the tension at a high level.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:


Author: screenman from United Kingdom
27 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Gosh - remember when Britain produced really great movies? 'The Day The Earth Caught Fire' is without question a classic of the sci-fi genre. If you can get your head around the scientifically preposterous lead that mighty Earth can be knocked over by 2 piddling little nuclear bombs, when the Chixulub asteroid of 65 million years ago didn't even make it flinch; then the rest is plain-sailing.

The central character, Stenning, is played with amazing panache by Edward Judd for his first starring role. He's a big, handsome bloke in the classic British way, and brings a commanding, masculine presence that's not unlike youthful Richard Burton. But Stenning is a mess. He's an almost-washed-up good guy fractured by divorce and separation from a son who (as is so often the case) is being used as revenge collateral by his ex-wife. Evidently an established bruiser as a journalist, he is also a very talented writer, but who's talents are almost eclipsed by bitterness and frustration. He is teetering on the edge of alcoholism and dismissal. Actually he reminds me of the Mike Hammer portrayal in 'Kiss Me Deadly' - very much the anti-hero, but with just enough virtue left for redemption. Being big and obnoxious, like so many bad guys, he is irresistible to real women.

Stenning is just about kept from falling over by Leo McKern's science correspondent. McKern surely needs no introduction, and brings a solid lump of gravitas to any role he plays. Here, he's a kind of indulgent pre-Rumpole uncle figure and a joy to watch and hear.

Third of the central triumvirate is 'the girl' played with feisty zeal by Janet Munro. She will be Stenning's redeemer - if they survive.

These three are core to many sound British character players that include cameos from Bernard Braden and a juvenile Micheal Caine.

Climate effects are kept simple, which makes them all the more stark and harrowing. Production hasn't been dumbed-down by the usual miniature-work, buckets or water thrown over dolls' houses. At the same time, stock newsreel of equal quality has been seamlessly grafted in. The spell is never broken by crass editing.

But the real topper here is the script. Val Guest has brought us a sharp and witty dialogue that never lets up. It is surely the cleverest script of any sci-fi movie ever, and compares with those of the very best film-noir.

Also unusual, and more plausible, is the fact that the story unfolds from the standpoint of the media. Traditionally, Movies of this kind are presented from the view of political, scientific or military experts - who, in truth, and as the movie makes clear, would actually tell us nothing if they could.

This movie is what 'The Day After Tomorrow' should have been if Hollywood hadn't sold out to blockbuster special-effects and schmaltz. As it stands, despite its modest budget and lack of jaw-dropping CGI, 'The Day The Earth Caught Fire' is superior in every way.

Perhaps the most telling aspect of the adult content in this production is the fact that, despite its vintage, and despite an absence of any explicit sex, or graphic violence, it still carries the same '15' rating as the Coens' much more recent and far more bloodthirsty 'No Country For Old Men'.

Very highly recommended both as a thriller and human drama.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

An atmospheric character driven drama...

Author: quatermax-1 from Cyprus
8 February 2008

Simultaneous nuclear testing at the North and South poles throws the Earth off its axis and careering into the Sun. The only way to prevent annihilation is for the world's antagonistic superpowers to get together and detonate four more nuclear bombs to try and put the Earth back on track. The events surrounding all this are seen through the eyes of London journalists Stenning (Edward Judd, THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON) and Maguire (Leo McKern, RUMPOLE OF THE BAILEY, THE PRISONER). Steamy romantic interest is provided by normally clean-cut Disney girl Janet Munro (DARBY O'GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE) as the Government employee who innocently stumbles upon the terrifying truth the Government is trying to suppress. Temperatures rise in more ways than one as we are led to an ambiguous but entirely appropriate finale.

This is an atmospheric character driven drama and the performances are solid throughout, particularly from McKern as a dependable but gruff science reporter, and Judd, in his first starring role, comes across so well not only as the hard drinking, brash but charming reporter but also in his light romantic comedy scenes with Munro that it's a wonder his career never amounted to much after this. The production is brisk and very slick and the minimal SFX by Les Bowie that graphically illustrate the bizarre climatic changes resulting from the rising temperature, in particular the River Thames drying out, belie the low budget director Guest had at his disposal. Stock footage is also used seamlessly and effectively, including some from THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT, also directed by Guest.

The film is also important in its almost documentary style record of London's newspaper industry of the time. Its location shooting in the offices of the Daily Express in London's famous Fleet Street wonderfully, and authentically, captures a bustling bygone age and even has then ex-Daily Express editor Arthur Christiansen portraying the editor. It's no surprise that Christiansen was also technical adviser on the film.

Also, keep your eyes peeled for a very young Michael Caine as a British Bobby directing traffic through the heat induced London fog.

Highly recommended.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A classic which doesn't date

Author: Kerridwyn from Los Angeles, CA
18 December 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A chilling parable of the devastation mankind's arrogance might one day wreak upon the earth, made all the more powerful for its parallels with our current environmental debates. Although it's nuclear testing rather than global warming, the earth is heating up, and governments aren't entirely keen for people to know why.

Rather than following the path of some kind of action hero, we follow the story through the lens of two newspaper journalists - real characters, people with histories and flaws and motivations we can relate to. Great dialog, the old-fashioned clattering of typewriters, the faintly claustrophobic air of the days when people still wore hats and suits, it's a marvelously atmospheric film which becomes deeply moving with its final scenes.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Ultimate Global Warming Movie

Author: brainyidiot from Ann Arbor, Michigan
1 June 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The lack of special FX in TDTECF only proves that you don't need them to convey an effective story. The sharp dialog and excellent acting makes this 60's sci-fi yarn about the end of the world a must-see for those who can stomach the nihilistic view on how people would behave if facing the end of the world. Edward Judd delivers a fine performance as a newspaper man jaded from a failed marriage and having to deal with the daily sensational stories that make good press. The late Janet Munro is also very good as his love interest in a tale that fleshes out its characters in a full 3 dimensions within what is most distinctly adult situations. As the world heats up, we're reminded that humankind may have the power to destroy itself but the culprit isn't CO-2, but rather other factors brought upon by destructive technology. It's the old "we are destroying ourselves" argument. One memorable scene near the end has a bunch of crazy teenagers running amok. Everything about this movie works.

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