185 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)
4,159 ( 3,483)
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:

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Did You Know?


The movie was shot in part in Berwick, a (then) small town in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. Some streets which were being established during this time were named after people involved in the film. Some examples are: Gardner Street (Ava Gardner), Shute Avenue (Nevil Shute) and Kramer Drive (Stanley Kramer). See more »


Gregory Peck's character refers repeatedly to the Australian Government science body as the CSIR but the organization is called the CSIRO - the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. The name CSIR ('Council for Scientific and Industrial Research' ) was changed to the CSIRO by the Ben Chifley Labor government in 1949, well before the movie was set. (In the novel it is correctly identified as the CSIRO.) 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 Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (2004) See more »


Onward, Christian Soldiers
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Lyrics by Sabine Baring-Gould
See more »

User Reviews

Interesting movie. Strong in places. Mostly falls short of the books plot.
11 July 2001 | by Esteban EstrañoSee all my reviews

I watched this movie because I had just recently read the Nevil Shute book and wanted to see how much I liked it. I loved the book and expected the movie to be good too. How could you go wrong with all the good actors and a BW Sci-Fi/Drama theme to boot? I saw this movie when I was in grade school or something and also wanted to know my reaction to it now. In short, I was disappointed. It was overly melodramatic, the characters had been all changed and the plot mixed up. Nevil Shute had written a wonderful, subtle story about the end of human life on this earth and how people might cope. This movie was harsh and jangling to watch, punctuated with loud blasts of music at dramatic points when it was obvious what we were seeing. Standing alone, with no comparison to the novel, its not a bad movie. It is 2hrs 15min in length and I was not bored durring any of it. I love Gregory Peck. He did a great job of portraying an American family man trying to cope with what happened. Its almost worth it just to see what an interesting actor Tony Perkins could have been. Fred Astaire may have been the most believable. He also is worth seeing. I love his dancing, but he can be a great dramatic actor as well. To sum up: If you like this theme and these actors, then definatly watch this movie. Its not a waste of time. I just felt there was a lot of depth that could have been there and wasn't. Esteban

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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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