7.2/10
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81 user 77 critic

The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)

Unrated | | Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi | 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)
Reviews
Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

Photos

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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 ... Harry
Gene Anderson Gene Anderson ... May
Renée Asherson ... Angela
Arthur Christiansen Arthur Christiansen ... 'Jeff' Jefferson - Editor
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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 | Romance | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At the start of the film Stenning gives his story to a copy boy played by an uncredited Peter Blythe. 20 years later Blythe and Leo Mckern (Bill Maguire) would star opposite each other in Rumpole Of The Bailey as head of chambers Sam Ballard and Rumpole, respectively. See more »

Goofs

At the 'peace' rally there is sign mistakenly using the Mercedes logo instead of the peace sign. See more »

Quotes

Bill Maguire: [reading a newswire] There's a chap in Leeds says he can extract water from the atmosphere. Oh, as you were, he's been certified.
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Crazy Credits

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

Alternate Versions

The original release prints had the beginning and ending footage color tinted. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Svengoolie: Island of Terror (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Camptown Races
(uncredited)
Composed by Stephen Foster
See more »

User Reviews

 
Timeless, compelling sci-fi drama
28 January 2006 | by refrankfurtSee all my reviews

After more than forty years, this film is still a milestone in the science fiction genre. In its day, it was years ahead of its time. It had characters that acted like real people, instead of like John Agar and Lori Nelson. It contained a clearly implied sexual relationship between the two main characters, in an era when filmmakers were still routinely depicting even married couples as sleeping in separate beds. It was filled with shocking insinuations that the government is not all-wise and benevolent, that science doesn't really have all the answers, that the military is capable of blunders that put new meaning into the phrase "friendly fire," and that all may not be well, after all.

The film's greatest strength is in its understated, matter-of-fact presentation of the characters' various reactions to the relentlessly deteriorating situation. The performances are consistently honest and compelling, from the principal players down to the smallest walk-on parts. The award-winning script by Wolf Mankowitz is at times almost too clever for its own good. If there is one criticism that may be leveled against it, it is that most real people are not that consistently witty. Occasionally they are at a loss for words. Occasionally they say things that are lame, stupid, and altogether inappropriate. And this is the one element that was pretty much absent from the dialogue.

In an age when movies are being strangled to death by their own special effects, and character development often does not extend beyond the crudest bodily functions and four-letter expletives, it is genuinely refreshing to return to a film such as this one. Not only does it not rely on visual effects to tell its story, it is really so little dependent on the visual that it could have been equally successful as a radio drama (a forgotten art form nowadays), and might very well have caused an even greater panic than Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds."


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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:

GBP200,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Pax Films See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Black and White (with tinted sequences)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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