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Panic in Year Zero! (1962)

 -  Horror | Sci-Fi | Thriller  -  5 July 1962 (USA)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 2,205 users  
Reviews: 54 user | 33 critic

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.

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Title: Panic in Year Zero! (1962)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Harry Baldwin
...
Ann Baldwin
...
Rick Baldwin
Mary Mitchel ...
Karen Baldwin
Joan Freeman ...
Marilyn Hayes
Richard Bakalyan ...
Carl
Rex Holman ...
Mickey
Richard Garland ...
Ed Johnson - Hardware Store Owner
...
Dr. Powell Strong (as Willis Buchet)
Neil Nephew ...
Andy
O.Z. Whitehead ...
Hogan - Grocery Store Owner
Russ Bender ...
Leader At Roadblock
Andrea Lane ...
Waitress
Scott Peters ...
Army Sergeant
Shary Marshall ...
Bobbie Johnson
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Storyline

While on a fishing trip, Harry Baldwin (Ray Milland) and his family hear an explosion and realize that Los Angeles has been leveled by a nuclear attack. Looters and killers are everywhere. Escaping to the hills with his family, he sets about the business of surviving in a world where, he knows, the old ideals of humanity will be first casualties. Not one to give up, he holds up a store for supplies and hides the family in a cave. Written by alfiehitchie

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When Science Fiction Becomes Fact! See more »


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Release Date:

5 July 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Panic in Year Zero  »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Milland's car in this movie is a 1962 Mercury Monterey. See more »

Goofs

After the family sees the flashes of light they stand behind the trailer. Then they go to check the car radio and leave the driver's door open. The driver's door is open in the closer shots but closed in the wide shot. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Ann Baldwin: Thanks for the help.
Harry Baldwin: Oh, I'm sorry, Ann... Sorry.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Matinee (1993) See more »

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User Reviews

 
May look campy: Perhaps more real than we realize...
14 June 2003 | by (Vancouver, BC) – See all my reviews

This is a genuinely enjoyable example of a "post-nuclear holocaust survival

film." It may seem a bit campy by modern standards, but is actually well thought- out and acted. The early 60's were an era in which it seemed possible to

contemplate a nuclear war that broke down civilization's normal function

withOUT reducing the entire countryside to rubble. A man takes his family out into the country to escape the chaos, still clinging to the hope that normalcy and order will soon return. His wife is horrified at his newfound ruthlessness, and the kids seem willing to go with the new rules of the jungle.

Ray Milland was at one time an acclaimed actor, but his academy award for

"Lost Weekend" seems to have cursed his career. Now regarded as a "serious"

actor, suited only for "down" roles, he wasn't given much chance to work in the more "up" big-studio roles of the fifties. By the time he wound up at AIP, he was little more than a "has-been" to the public. But he retained real talent, as his directing and starring in this and other Sci-fi pictures of the period shows. When given a free hand, as in "Panic In Year Zero!" he took on challenges others

would have shied away from and showed that he still had a lot to offer. Sadly, big time directors continued to ignore him and the end of his life was defined by roles in "Frogs" and "The Thing With Two Heads" - films far worse than anything with Corman's name on them.

"Panic in Year Zero!" displays the basic conflict of compromise: Ray's character must compromise his beliefs and code of behavior in order to preserve what he cares for. His constant conflict with his wife displays the conflict between

differing ideas of what needs to be preserved - to her, saving the family by acts of savagery is unacceptable, and the only way to preserve civilization is to apply its rules in every situation. The ending seems to redeem Ray, but the fact is that the questions raised are answered by each viewer in the course of the film in his or her own way. Events in the film are not one-sided, and Ray's relation to the hardware store owner calls into question his position and correctness: perhaps by allying himself earlier with other decent people trying to survive, Ray could have saved his family from some of what it endures.

As we now re-acclimate ourselves to an era in which the possibility of "limited" nuclear attack (from national or independent terrorist groups) seems more likely than Mutual Assured Destruction, it is possible that films such as "Panic in Year Zero!" offer us important ethical problems. Problems we hope never to have to solve in real life, but which the screen offers a means to wrestle with in a safe environment.


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