186 user 47 critic

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.


Stanley Kramer


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




Cast overview, first billed only:
Gregory Peck ... Cmdr. Dwight Lionel Towers
Ava Gardner ... Moira Davidson
Fred Astaire ... Julian Osborn
Anthony Perkins ... Lt. Peter Holmes
Donna Anderson ... Mary Holmes
John Tate John Tate ... Adm. Bridie
Harp McGuire ... Lt. Sunderstrom
Lola Brooks Lola Brooks ... Lt. Hosgood
Ken Wayne ... Lt. Benson
Guy Doleman ... Lt. Cmdr. Farrel
Richard Meikle Richard Meikle ... Davis
John Meillon ... Ralph Swain
Joe McCormick Joe McCormick ... Ackerman
Lou Vernon Lou Vernon ... Bill Davidson
Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan ... Dr. King


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


The Biggest Story Of our Time! See more »


Drama | Romance | Sci-Fi


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The only film that year nominated for Best Motion Picture Drama at the Golden Globes, and not Best Picture at the Academy Awards. See more »


Phillip Island Grand Prix. The crash of car no. 31 (Roadster). He spins sidewards, the front wheels clearly point to the left. The set-up for the stunt crash presents the car with front wheels pointing to the right, the driver (dummy) slumped to the left, while the left side is already on fire. Possibly a cable to trigger an explosive device is covered over with a very dark, therefore clearly visible, strip of asphalt. See more »


[first lines]
Dwight Towers: Prepare to surface.
See more »

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 »


Referenced in American Masters: A Conversation with Gregory Peck (1999) See more »


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 »

User Reviews

I played a bit part in Melbourne. Great fun.
5 September 1999 | by Sanders-4See all my reviews

I was/am not an actor, but I was a Fulbright at the University of Melbourne 1958-1960. When the U.S. Navy and Stanley Kramer fell out, he needed bit players with an American accent. As a result, I was recruited to play the (nameless) part of the planesman ("Depth 45 feet, Sir" and other immortal lines).

It was great fun. I worked 12 hours a day, 7 days a week (really -- though most of the time was spent playing poker -- made more money playing poker than I did for acting) for two weeks at the Melbourne Fair Grounds. Met and chatted with all the participants other than Ava Gardner, who had no truck with anyone other than her Spanish cameraman.

I was very impressed by Kramer and his writer. As to the others, it was clear that good brains do not make good actors (though all were nice people, particularly Fred Astaire who could have made millions as a salesman if he had not made them as a dancer/actor).

I have seen lots of times and think the best movie ever made (even better than "No Time for Sergeants", which I have seen even more times).

Would like to hear from Jack Boyer (the submarine medical corpsman) if he happens to read this.

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Release Date:

17 December 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

On the Beach See more »


Box Office


$2,900,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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