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On the Beach (1959)

Approved | | Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi | 17 December 1959 (USA)
After a global nuclear war, the residents of Australia must come to terms with the fact that all life will be destroyed in a matter of months.

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Writers:

(screenplay), (novel)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Cmdr. Dwight Lionel Towers
... Moira Davidson
... Julian Osborn
... Lt. Peter Holmes
... Mary Holmes
John Tate ... Adm. Bridie
... Lt. Sunderstrom
Lola Brooks ... Lt. Hosgood
... Lt. Benson
... Lt. Cmdr. Farrel
Richard Meikle ... Davis
... Ralph Swain
Joe McCormick ... Ackerman
Lou Vernon ... Bill Davidson
Kevin Brennan ... Dr. King
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Storyline

In 1964, atomic war wipes out humanity in the northern hemisphere; one American submarine finds temporary safe haven in Australia, where life-as-usual covers growing despair. In denial about the loss of his wife and children in the holocaust, American Captain Towers meets careworn but gorgeous Moira Davidson, who begins to fall for him. The sub returns after reconnaissance a month (or less) before the end; will Towers and Moira find comfort with each other? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

IF YOU Never See Another Motion Picture In Your Life You Must See ON THE BEACH See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 December 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das letzte Ufer  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,900,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$11,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Gregory Peck was a lifelong opponent of nuclear weapons, and made this film for this reason. He believed atomic weapons should not have been used during World War II, and the reason for Japan's surrender was the Soviet Union's declaration of war on 9 August 1945 and simultaneous invasion of Manchuria. He also stated there was no need for any invasion of Japan, as a naval blockade of the islands would have starved the country into unconditional surrender. See more »

Goofs

When the Sawfish is in San Francisco, the periscope camera focuses in on the Ferry Building, showing 'Port of San Francisco' and clock. The clock says approx 8:10 am. That it is morning is true because the sun is shining on the ferry building and clock - both face east. However Capt. Dwight Towers says that it will be dark in an hour. That cannot be true if it is 8 am. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Dwight Towers: Prepare to surface.
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Crazy Credits

The following acknowledgment appears in the opening credits: "We acknowledge with appreciation the assistance given by the Royal Australian Navy and, in particular, by the officers and men of H.M.A.S. Melbourne and H.M.S. Andrew." See more »

Connections

Featured in The Rotten Tomatoes Show: Watchmen/Shuttle/12 (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Waltzing Matilda
Original music by Christina McPherson, revised music by Marie Cowan and lyrics by A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson (as A.B. Paterson)
See more »

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User Reviews

We are all on that beach, on the thin line between life and death.
28 July 2003 | by See all my reviews

And the essence of our lives is expressed in the way we treat each other under the implacable threat of imminent mortality. As Ava Gardner's character says, at the penultimate moment of love's farewell, "It's been nice, Dwight Lionel. It's been everything." And what she says on her beach is true for every last one of us, on ours.

The primary power of this great movie to me is how well it conveys the idea that for us, on this beach, love and tender kindness are all that matter in the end, and the end is always near. The sheer kindness that Ava and Gregory's characters express for each other is surely the key element of their triumphant relationship.

The moment in which their relationship most completely triumphs, of course, occurs at the Narbethong Hotel. "On The Beach" achieves a cinematic moment of genius when the chorus singing "Waltzing Matilda" changes from a rowdy crowd of drunks to a magnificently harmonious group of fine male voices. As the sheer beauty of the music overwhelms us, it also overwhelms our characters, and we all unite together in a sublime moment of awareness that true love and kindness give us our only victory over imminent death. "You'll never take me alive," says the ghost.

The way Gregory Peck's character shifts from fumbling with the fire to turning toward Ava as the music inspires transcendence, and the way Ava smiles at him, make this scene unforgettably great.

Nearly as wonderful is the scene in which Ava's character learns that the Sawfish will be leaving, with her captain at the helm. She will have to face her death alone. She doesn't waste a moment in argument or recrimination, but expresses the fullness of her love for him and her great courage when she accepts his decision and thanks him: "..it's been everything." And then: "oh, I'm so frightened." This moment is one that I take to heart. It shows the love and courage I wish to have "when the time comes."

There is still time, brothers and sisters. But we are all on the beach.


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