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The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)

Unrated | | Drama, Sci-Fi, Romance | May 1962 (USA)
When the U.S. and Russia unwittingly test atomic bombs at the same time, it alters the nutation (axis of rotation) of the Earth.

Director:

Val Guest

Writers:

Wolf Mankowitz (written for the screen by), Val Guest (written for the screen by)
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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Janet Munro ... Jeannie Craig
Leo McKern ... Bill Maguire
Edward Judd ... Peter Stenning
Michael Goodliffe ... 'Jacko' Jackson - Night Editor
Bernard Braden Bernard Braden ... 'Dave' Davis - News Editor
Reginald Beckwith Reginald Beckwith ... Harry
Gene Anderson Gene Anderson ... May
Renée Asherson ... Angela
Arthur Christiansen Arthur Christiansen ... 'Jeff' Jefferson - Editor
Austin Trevor ... Sir John Kelly
Edward Underdown Edward Underdown ... Dick Sanderson
Ian Ellis Ian Ellis ... Michael Stenning
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Storyline

Hysterical panic has engulfed the world after the United States and the Soviet Union simultaneously detonate nuclear devices causing a change to the nutation (axis of rotation) of the Earth. Written by Fernando <diamond@argenet.com.ar>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The INCREDIBLE becomes Real! The IMPOSSIBLE becomes Fact! The UNBELIEVABLE becomes True! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Sci-Fi | Romance

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

May 1962 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Day the Earth Caught Fire See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

£200,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Pax Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Black and White (with tinted sequences)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At the beginning of the film, Peter Blythe makes a brief uncredited appearance as the copy desk boy taking 'Stenning's' story, and Leo McKern also stars as science reporter 'Bill Maguire'. Twenty years later, they would both star together in the hit television series Rumpole of the Bailey (1978), with McKern in the title role and Blythe as Head of Chambers, Sam Ballard. See more »

Goofs

We see a copy of the "New York Daily Record" - but a later edition of the "Daily Mail" is dated to June. (The Express detailing water rationing plans is dated Friday July 27th 1962.) See more »

Quotes

Peter Stenning: Well, Billy boy, they got me doing your homework. Five hundred words on sun-spots.
Bill Maguire: Have you seen the figures on some of these Earth tremors?
Peter Stenning: It's another planet trying to contact us.
[He picks up his empty coffee mug and speaks into it]
Peter Stenning: This is Earth. Are you receiving me? Are you receiving me? You are?
Peter Stenning: Well get knotted.
Peter Stenning: [He sets the mug down again]
See more »

Crazy Credits

There are no end credits whatsoever (not even a "The End" caption); merely a fade to black. See more »

Alternate Versions

According to director Val Guest, there were two versions of the film. The original version had a topless scene with Janet Munro, and "one for the Americans" in which she has a strategically placed towel around her neck. See more »

Connections

Featured in Godzilla (1977) See more »

Soundtracks

Light Cavalry Overture
(uncredited)
Written by Franz von Suppé
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Day the Earth Caught Fire
3 March 2004 | by EdgarSTSee all my reviews

1961's "The Day the Earth Caught Fire" must be judged according to the parameters of classics as 1951's "The Day the Earth Stood Still", and not today's special effects mega productions in which the perspective of the disappearance of planet Earth is taken with cynic humor. The idea came to director Val Guest during the Cold War in 1954, and it is under that decade's spirit that the movie is better appreciated. I remember seeing it when it opened, and I've never forgotten that experience, specially its tinted sequence. Forty-three years later I am able to see it again, and it's still the same notable film, not the least affected by today's cinematic technology, because, in its core, Guest's motivation -the worry for the actions of mindless men who struggle to control the Earth- is still relevant. If it's not highly regarded today as "The Day the Earth Stood Still", I think it has to do with the fact that Universal sold it as a B movie in America (though not so by British Lion in the UK, where it was a huge success, and won the film industry's top prize for its screenplay) and because not too many critics paid attention to it and wrote positive reviews, establishing it as an important science-fiction movie since then. Although there are very few re-enacted disaster scenes and it relies upon footage of real catastrophes, the tension is handled effectively in the newspaper's office where most of the action takes place, with its overlapping dialogues and constant flow of new information; and in the development of the romantic story in the midst of violence and terror in the streets. Edward Judd, Janet Munro and Leo McKern contribute good performances to this fine movie, shot in wide-screen Dyaliscope.


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