"On The Beach", despite it's heavy subject of a nuclear holocaust wiping out all human life, succeeds because Stanley Kramer is mercifully more restrained and less pretentious than he would later be in "Inherit The Wind" and "Judgment At Nuremberg", which are memorable more for their polemics than their characters, in my opinion. Except for one minor speech by Fred Astaire at one point (which as the previous reviewer noted is somewhat ironic in light of the fact that the very thing Astaire rails against, the idea that large nuclear stockpiles could keep the peace, turned out to be absolutely true) the film is for the most part about people and how they react to the knowledge that their world and their lives will soon come to an end. This is what makes the film so compelling as far as I'm concerned. The cast is excellent, with fine performances by Astaire (his first non-musical part), Anthony Perkins and Gregory Peck. But the real strength of the movie is Ava Gardner's touching performance as the lonely, alcoholic Moira Davidson who manages for one brief moment before the end to find true love with Peck. Having read much about her life, there is something almost hauntingly autobiographic in Gardner's portrayal, and that only adds to the movie's overall poignance.