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Panic in Year Zero! (1962)

Not Rated | | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller | 5 July 1962 (USA)
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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Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Harry Baldwin
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Ann Baldwin
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Rick Baldwin
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Karen Baldwin
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Marilyn Hayes
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Carl
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Mickey
Richard Garland ...
Ed Johnson - Hardware Store Owner
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Dr. Powell Strong (as Willis Buchet)
Neil Burstyn ...
Andy (as Neil Nephew)
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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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

An Orgy of Looting and Lust! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 July 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

End of the World  »

Box Office

Budget:

$225,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Filmed in two weeks. See more »

Goofs

When Mr. Baldwin directs his son not to purchase eggs in the grocery store, the egg cartons that Frankie Avalon was going to take were on a simple shelf, and not refrigerated in a cooler. See more »

Quotes

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

Referenced in Matinee (1993) See more »

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User Reviews

 
"Two and two doesn't make four anymore"
7 January 2009 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

I can't say I had the greatest expectations for this low-budget post-apocalyptic thriller, directed by none other than Ray Milland. Though his career was undoubtedly in something of a downturn by the early 1960s, the Oscar-winning actor briefly found new life in the realm of B-movies, starring in Roger Corman's 'X: The Man with X-ray Eyes (1963).' The previous year, however, Milland indulged in his occasional interest in directing {in total, he has five features to his name, as well as numerous television episodes} with 'Panic in Year Zero! (1962).' Against all odds, this under-appreciated gem is among the best of its kind, somehow even managing to outclass Stanley Kramer's star-studded 'On the Beach (1959)' of three years earlier. Ever since I read Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Poison Belt" in 2007, I've wanted to make my own post-apocalyptic film, and, fascinatingly, this is exactly the sort of production I'd envisioned; sparse in action and characters, but utilising the family's isolation to bring home the terror of their predicament.

The theme of nuclear apocalypse was most common in the early 1960s, when relations between the United States and the Soviet Union were at their most hostile. Some films, such as Kubrick's 'Dr. Strangelove… (1964)' and Lumet's 'Fail-Safe (1964),' chronicled the events leading up to such an incident, whereas Kramer's 'On the Beach (1959)' took place in the following months. What these big-budget offerings have in common is that they focus primarily on the big-players in the Cold War, particularly the government and military officials. 'Panic in Year Year!' deals, out of budgetary necessity more than anything else, with ordinary people in an unfathomable situation, and is all the better for it. When Harry Baldwin (Milland) takes his family on a fishing trip, the sudden flash of light emanating from Los Angeles is initially mistaken for lightning, followed by the mundane remark that "I hope it doesn't rain." The Baldwins are a regular American family who don't deserve to have their lives and lifestyles exploited like cheap pawns in a game of chess.

It's interesting that the charming rogues of the 1940s, such as Ray Milland and George Sanders, turned into convincing family-orientated men during their autumn years of acting. Milland is excellent in the main role, a dedicated father and husband who, in his determination to persevere, finds himself abandoning the very civilised morals for which he is fighting. Despite creating a strong sense of the chaos and lawlessness that accompanies a national catastrophe, the film's message is still an overwhelingly positive one: that the bonds of family and friendship are a crucial necessity in difficult times. There are, of course, a few unlikely plot turns – by coincidence, the two groups of people who seek refuge in the Baldwins' hideaway are the very two with whom the family had had previously altercations – and the occasional moment that can only be described as B-movie silliness {my favourite is the announcement that the sole outcome of an urgent United Nations meeting was to give this year a dramatic-sounding name}. Even so, 'Panic in Year Zero!' is a gripping and unforgettable addition to the science-fiction genre.


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