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 <email@example.com>
According to Philip R. Davey, author of the book "When Hollywood Came to Melbourne: The Story of the Making of Stanley Kramer's 'On The Beach'", director Stanley Kramer experienced many problems with the thousands of bathers who stood in shoulder-deep water to watch the proceedings, and who applauded the cast after each take. Their enthusiasm was gratifying in this respect if not in others, such as when thousands of people began crowding forward to get a closer look at Ava Gardner, they repeatedly moved into camera range, thus necessitating many frustrating retakes. See more »
At the very beginning of the film, a radio announcer is heard reporting that no life survives anywhere but Australia. Later Admiral Bridie suggests that it might be possible for life to continue in Antarctica, indicating that that continent is also not yet affected by radiation. In any event, the basic premise - that Australia would still harbor life while every other site on the globe has been destroyed or rendered lifeless - including, among other places, New Zealand, farther south and much less of a target than Australia would be - is illogical and physically a virtual impossibility. (By contrast, in the novel the entire Southern Hemisphere is untouched by the atomic war itself, though the radioactivity gradually drifts southward.) See more »
The Cold War aspects of this movie may be a bit dated, but for those of us of a certain age it is a reminder of the fears we lived under at that time. In retrospect, it may be that Julian was wrong: it may have indeed been the very presence of these terrible weapons that prevented a third world war.
In any case, that aspect of the story never overshadows the movie's underlying theme, which is, rather, how each of us views the sum of our lives as our mortal end approaches. Are we alone? Have we connected with anyone? Have we failed? Have we loved? Have we been loved?
Color would have been all wrong for this essentially b&w story. Superb performances from Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire and the pre-Norman Bates Anthony Perkins. A fine bit as well by John Tate as the old admiral("to a blind, blind world").
A mere cold-war nuclear destruction movie would leave one merely frightened at the end. The fact that this movie leaves you with an almost unbearable feeling of terrible sadness is a testament to the human power of Nevil Shute's book, as well as to the fine script and Kramer's superb direction.
One of the most depressing movies ever made, but a truly great one.
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