Panic in Year Zero! (1962)

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


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:

End of the World  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film inspired the Steely Dan song 'King of the World' on their second album 'Countdown to Ecstacy.' Donald Fagen of the band referred to this in interview. See more »


After lighting a cigarette for his father, Rick Baldwin is shooting a "bird" with his hand up on his chest. See more »


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


Referenced in Matinee (1993) See more »

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User Reviews

Surprisingly good
11 November 2001 | by (Seattle, WA) – See all my reviews

One's expectations for an early-60s B movie from American International Pictures are never very high. But this movie was a surprisingly well thought out & thought-provoking story.

Just as a family has left LA for a vacation in the woods, the US suffers a massive nuclear attack on all its major cities from, uh, an unnamed enemy. (Wink wink...) But you won't find any marauding mutants here. In fact this film isn't about nuclear war per se. It really wants to explore the nature of civilized society. The father, well portrayed by Ray Milland, is grimly determined to protect his family at all costs for as long as it takes for order & civil authority to be restored, which he's sure will be a long time coming.

The father is a good man, but a little paranoid & controlling. This probably wouldn't be noticeable in normal times, but now they're in a panicked rush to escape the LA metro area & gather enough supplies to last for months in the wilderness - ahead of all the other people who are starting to clog up the freeways & empty out the grocery stores along the escape route. The contradiction between following the rules & protecting your loved ones in desperate times is very effectively illustrated as he makes some reckless decisions along the way.

Normally for a low budget 60's film like this, I wouldn't even bother thinking about how it could've been improved. But since it's so good at presenting a major moral dilemma in a realistic way, think of these nits as a sign of respect: Milland's character could use a little more introspection, but of course so could a lot of early 60's dads! (Not that Milland's performance was wooden - it was great. But his character had a very constricted personality.) His wife could use a little more assertiveness. She actually realizes this, and explains that she's still in shock over the attack - but after Sept. 11 a lot of us understand that after a good catharsis we can deal with a lot of trauma that initially would immobilize us. After having a good cry, she could've acted as a better conscience for some of the father's more paranoid acts. Also the daughter's character needed some fleshing out.

But of course this is an early 60's film, and clearly made on a low budget. And given its time & budget it is an amazing gem of a film. Definitely one to seek out!

45 of 52 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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