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On the Beach (1959) Poster

(1959)

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.
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The film had its world premiere on Dec. 17, 1959, in more than 20 cities worldwide, including Moscow. It was the first time an American film had had a premiere in the Soviet Union. The special premiere in Moscow was held at a workers' club, with 1200 Soviet dignitaries, the foreign press corps and diplomats including US Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson attending. Gregory Peck and his wife traveled to the Soviet Union for the premiere.
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The movie was filmed in 1959. For one year (July 4, 1959 - July 4, 1960) the US flag had 49 stars. In the opening scene a 49-star flag can be seen flying from the submarine.
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Ava Gardner's first film as a freelance actress after completing her 20-year studio contract at MGM, where she worked for a weekly salary and didn't benefit financially from being loaned to other studios. She was now free to choose her roles and negotiate her salary.
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The U.S. Department of Defense and the United States Navy declined to cooperate in the production of this film, including access to a nuclear-powered submarine, which forced the film production to use a non-nuclear, diesel-electric Royal Navy submarine, HMS Andrew (Royal Navy submarines were based in Australia until 1967, when the Royal Australian Navy commissioned its own submarines).
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Fred Astaire launched his non-musical, dramatic acting career with this film. Stanley Kramer couldn't decide who to cast in this role until his wife suggested Astaire while watching one of his films on TV.
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It is rumored that guards at each end of the Golden Gate Bridge were paid $500 each to stop cars for a minute to get footage of an empty bridge.
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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).
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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.
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When Moira goes to visit Towers at the dock, an Australian sailor calls out "Get a load of that Charlie Wheeler". This is rhyming slang: 'Charlie Wheeler' rhymes with "sheila", an Australian term for a (young) woman.
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Gregory Peck was strongly opposed to the Cold War.
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The first of three consecutive films in which Stanley Kramer cast the biggest former MGM musical stars in unexpected dramatic roles: Fred Astaire in this film, Gene Kelly in Inherit the Wind (1960), and Judy Garland in Judgment at Nuremberg (1961).
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While the film was shot in 1959, it was set in 1964. The two most famous movies related to nuclear war also took place in 1964: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) and Fail-Safe (1964).
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Nevil Shute originally collaborated with Stanley Kramer on the film but soon realized that many of his ideas were not being incorporated so he distanced himself from the project. He was absolutely enraged by the final film - some say that this hatred of the movie contributed to a fatal stroke a month after the film's premiere. Shute was only 60 when he died.
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The only US nuclear submarine with the hull #623 was the SSBN Nathan Hale, a ballistic missile submarine.
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Like The Big Country (1958) and Pork Chop Hill (1959), this film strongly reflected Gregory Peck's pacifist and anti-war views.
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The film takes place in 1964.
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One of the favorite films of director Wim Wenders.
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Unlike the novel, the film does not impart blame for the apocalypse to any one side, instead implying that it came about by accident.
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Ava Gardner got herself into hot water when she claimed that "Melbourne was the perfect place to make a film about the end of the world". This, however, was something she never said and was made up by a journalist.
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Gregory Peck privately agreed with Nevil Shute that the film was a watered-down version of the novel but had to show solidarity with his director, Stanley Kramer.
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This was Hollywood's first large-scale film to address the possibility of nuclear Armageddon.
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During the 1980s Gregory Peck was a very active opponent of President Ronald Reagan's Star Wars defense missile system. Peck stated his main priority in life was to see the world rid of nuclear weapons.
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The tune played repeatedly throughout the film is the iconic Australian folk song "Waltzing Matilda". It tells the story of a swagman (Australian for hobo) who steals a sheep and commits suicide rather than accept capture and imprisonment.
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The car Osborne drives in the race is a 1955 Ferarri 750 Monza Spider. It is one of only 35 built. In 2011 this exact car sold at auction for over $2.5M. In 2016, another example, with a more famous and race-winning pedigree sold for over $5.2M.
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Fred Astaire thoroughly enjoyed filming in Australia as, unlike Ava Gardner, he was not hounded by the press. In fact, for most of the shoot, he was able to move around freely, frequenting thrift shops and race tracks.
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At the time, Australia had little to no film industry so many studio facilities had to be built from scratch.
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Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
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The aircraft carrier near the beginning of the movie is the HMAS Melbourne (R21).
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This film did poorly at the box office, resulting in a loss of $700,000 according to studio records.
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The Hollywood premiere was attended by many celebrities, including some of the film's stars. The New York premiere was attended by Mayor Robert F. Wagner. The London premiere was attended by Yakov Malik, Soviet Ambassador to the U.K. Ava Gardner attended the Rome premiere. The Japanese Royal Family attended the Tokyo premiere. Swedish King Gustaf VI Adolf attended the Stockholm premiere. The Melbourne premiere was attended by Premier of Victoria Henry Bolte. Premieres were held simultaneously in 20 cities on six continents.
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Premiered simultaneously in 18 cinemas on all seven continents on December 17 1959. This even included a screening at the Little America base in Antarctica.
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Stanley Kramer obviously developed a taste for big budget movies with an all-star cast as most of his subsequent films - Inherit the Wind (1960), Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963) and Ship of Fools (1965) - all followed the same format.
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The three leading men --Gregory Peck, Fred Astaire, and Anthony Perkins-- had all previously been leading men opposite Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday (1953), Funny Face (1957), and Green Mansions (1959), respectively. A signed photo of the three men on the set of On the Beach was sold at Christie's auction house as part of the Audrey Hepburn: The Personal Collection in October 2017.
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The movie is set in 1964. This is not a random year in the future. in 1914 WWI started, and after 25 years, in 1939, WWII started. If you add 1939 and 25 you get 1964.
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Film debut of Donna Anderson.
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Television star Graham Kennedy was one of several Melbourne TV performers who appeared as extras in a night-club scene. Much of the scene was deleted, and Kennedy did not appear in the theatrical release, nor any subsequent DVD versions.
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The Australian admiral, played by John Tate, does not exist in the novel.
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The only film that year nominated for Best Motion Picture Drama at the Golden Globes, and not Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
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There was a U.S. Navy submarine named Sawfish (SS-276). It was a Gato-class diesel-electric submarine commissioned in 1942. She was deployed on ten war patrols, earning eight battle stars and rescued two naval aviators while on lifeguard duty during carrier strike operations. She was decommissioned in 1946 and finally stricken and scrapped in 1960.
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The song Every Day Is Like Sunday, by the singer Morrissey, is based on this film.
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Second film ending with Ava Gardner, her back to the camera, seeing off departing persons, or a person, she loves. The first was 1951's "Show Boat," but in between there is a third if you count her statue where her character is buried in 1954's "The Barefoot Contessa."
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