Joby Blanshard replaced Derek Partridge. See more »
Throughout the movie smallpox vaccinations are administered to people who've not received one within a year. When administered properly, the smallpox vaccine needs to be given just once. It lasts a lifetime. See more »
Director Val Guest's DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE ranks among the great British science fiction films that doubles as one of the best newspaper films as well. A cautionary tale which expertly tapped into the A-bomb jitters of the early sixties, the film centers on the aftermath of a nuclear upheaval which sends the world on a crash course towards the sun. The hook of the film is that the action is seen through the eyes of journalists who chart the story and eventually arrive at the truth despite the web of official government lies and deceit.
80,000 SUSPECTS, released only two years later, is something of a companion piece, once again centering on a group of professional people struggling to balance their personal lives as the world is falling apart around them, in this case it's a smaller-scale disaster in the form of an outbreak of smallpox. Guest uses the exact same technique: gritty black and white photography and ample use of authentic locations and hand-held camera conveying a newsreel look. With everything in place for a sizzling apocalyptic thriller, it's a pity 800,000 SUSPECTS wastes it all on the director's own turgid and profoundly tedious script. The cast of lovable cynics spouting razor-sharp dialog in DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE is sorely missed. Instead, the characters are so akin to a Hollywood hospital soap opera a la THE INTERNS, I half-expected to see Michael Callan lurching around in his white scrubs.
As the married doctor-and-nurse team who tackle the epidemic head-on, Richard Johnson and Claire Bloom are never less than professional but never more than marginally interesting (the pair would shortly reunite as the leads in Robert Wise's THE HAUNTING). More disappointingly is that Mr. Guest uses the opportunity to give a plum role to his wife, the talented Yolande Donlan who several years earlier became the toast of London's West End recreating Judy Holliday's role in BORN YESTERDAY. Unfortunately, her big scene playing drunken wife of a staff physician is overlong, over-written and serves to slow the film down even before it has a chance to begin. It's not surprising that this film has dropped into obscurity.
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