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On the Beach

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Overview

Although there'd been "doomsday dramas" before it, Stanley Kramer's On the Beach was considered the first "important" entry in this genre when originally released in 1959. Based on the novel by Nevil Shute, the film is set in the future 1964 when virtually all life on earth has been exterminated by the radioactive residue of a nuclear holocaust. Only Australia has been spared, but it's only a matter of time before everyone Down Under also succumbs to radiation poisoning. With only a short time left on earth, the ...
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Overview

Although there'd been "doomsday dramas" before it, Stanley Kramer's On the Beach was considered the first "important" entry in this genre when originally released in 1959. Based on the novel by Nevil Shute, the film is set in the future 1964 when virtually all life on earth has been exterminated by the radioactive residue of a nuclear holocaust. Only Australia has been spared, but it's only a matter of time before everyone Down Under also succumbs to radiation poisoning. With only a short time left on earth, the Australian population reacts in different ways: some go on a nonstop binge of revelry, while others eagerly consume the suicide pills being issued by the government. When the possibility arises that rains have washed the atmosphere clean in the Northern hemisphere, a submarine commander Gregory Peck and his men head to San Diego, where faint radio signals have been emanating. The movie's all-star cast includes: Peck as the stalwart sub captain, Ava Gardner as his emotionally disturbed lover, Fred Astaire as a guilt-wracked nuclear scientist, and Anthony Perkins and Donna Anderson as the "just starting out in life" married couple.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Released at the height of the Cold War (and when most nuclear-themed films were sci-fi horror films like Them!), On the Beach is a very flawed but intensely powerful film. Rarely one for subtlety when preparing one of his famous "message" pictures, director Stanley Kramer tends to overemphasize the horror that nuclear war represents, negating some of the impact. Indeed, it is when Kramer lets the simple facts speak for themselves -- the sight of people standing patiently in line waiting for pills that will release them from the impending doom, the chilling simplicity of the shot which shows us that the source of those faint radio signals promising life is nothing but the wind rolling a coke bottle onto a telegraph key -- that the film is at its most powerful. Also problematic (more so in the film than in the Nevil Shute novel) is the clich├ęd, almost soap operatic relationship between Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner and the somewhat melodramatic handling of other sections of the film. In spite of this, however, there's an overwhelming, desperate bleakness that perfectly captures the sense of hopelessness that is central to the story. The power of the film's message manages to overcome the lapses in its script and direction. The cast -- once one gets past some pretty unbelievable accents -- helps tremendously. Peck has rarely been more stalwart, Gardner delivers one of her finest performances, and Anthony Perkins is humane and vulnerable. Even decades after its release, Beach is a harrowing and devastating experience.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/26/2014
  • UPC: 738329136420
  • Original Release: 1959
  • Rating:

  • Source: Kl Studio Classics
  • Region Code: A
  • Time: 2:14:00
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Sales rank: 16,899

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Gregory Peck Dwight Towers
Ava Gardner Moira Davidson
Fred Astaire Julian Osborn
Anthony Perkins Peter Holmes
Donna Anderson Mary Holmes
John Tate Admiral Bridie
Lola Brooks Lt. Hosgood
Guy Doleman Farrel
John Meillon Swain
Harp McGuire Sundstrom
Ken Wayne Benson
Richard Meikle Davis
Lou Vernon Davidson
Kevin Brennan Dr. King
Grant Taylor Morgan
Cyril Gardner
Brian James
Paul Maloney
John Morgan
Basil Buller Murphy Sir Douglas Froude
Carey Paul Peck Boy
Richard Webb
Peter Williams Prof. Jorgenson
Rita Pauncefort
Mayne Lynton
Harvey Adams Sykes
Jim Barrett Chrysler
Keith Eden Dr. Fletcher
Frank Gatliff Radio Officer
Audine Leith Betty
Technical Credits
Stanley Kramer Director, Producer
James Lee Barrett Screenwriter
Fernando Carrere Art Director
Marie Cowan Songwriter
Daniel L. Fapp Cinematographer
Ernest Gold Score Composer
Joe King Costumes/Costume Designer
Frederic Knudtson Editor
John O'Gorman Makeup
A.B. Patterson Songwriter
John Paxton Screenwriter
Frank Prehoda Makeup
Giuseppe Rotunno Cinematographer
Fontana Sisters Costumes/Costume Designer
Rudolph Sternad Production Designer
Lee Zavitz Special Effects
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 16 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(7)

4 Star

(5)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    What can happen if we get into a nuclear war.

    Our sub capt. must choose between duty to his crew or love. He chooses duty!

    Fred has nothing to loose by the race and then picks a different way to exit the problem.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Great Plot!! Awful performances.

    The plot is always thought provoking even after all these years and well worth seeing for that but the performances are stiff and stagey and Ava Gardner's performance particularly has to be endured. Overall grim tale that should be revisited from time to time to remind us of the dangers inherent in our well armed society.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Powerful emotional movie

    I remember when this movie first came out and how really scared people were that something like this could actually happen. I think every American should watch this, it certainly gives you something to think about.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    So intense!!!

    This movie leaves you feeling...sad?...confused?...pondering life?...shocked? Any or all of the above is possibloe after seeing this movie. It is a tapestry of emotion mixed with modern day problems and conflicts that you can only experience first hand through this movie. SO SEE IT!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A real post-holocaust nightmare

    I know where Alex is coming from--he isn't familiar with Shute's novel. He didn't get what the story was about: a post-apocalyptic endgame. He thought it was supposed to be about Melbourne and is rightly proud to be from there and thinks this is Melbourne's international image. The story is a real downer but should be required for every U.S. presidential candidate (especially Reagan post-mortem) since it is one of the few realistic movies portraying a nuclear holocaust nightmare. Peck was especially good but Ava Gardner was totally unbelievable. That's the only reason I can't give it 5 stars.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    On The Beach

    I agree. Alex needs to read the book. Reading the book, I cried through the last 3rd of the book. When I watched the film, again I cried through the last 3rd. A very touching film and book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    No more gasoline for cars

    An outstanding film that had an impact on my generation when it was originally released; George W. Bush must have missed it. Now, Alex does understand that there was a global holocaust that had a negative affect on things like, oh, transportation?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Alex

    Alex needs to read the book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2003

    Child of the Bomb Shelter Era

    I saw this movie as a teenager in a theater on an Army Post just outside of Paris, France, when it first came out. It brought out the reality of what we could face if Russia sent nuclear weapons on the U.S. I cried all the way home and had bad dreams about my family back home. This was a real possibility in our minds back in those days. ''On the Beach'' may seem ''hokie'' to today's kids but the message is not by any means. Heartbreaking, well-acted and a must-see in any era.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Subtle point missed

    Just to clarify a few points that seem to have gone over the head of one of the reviewers (Alex the Australian). The film isn't meant to represent Aussies as backwards. The reason why everyone uses bikes and horses is because of the fuel shortages caused by the war. I'm sure Stanley Kramer wasn't trying to represent Aussies as drunkards either, in context, how would you react to only having months to live? If you feel so affronted by the film, try reading the novel by Nevil Shute.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Total Classic

    On The Beach is a great 1950s film set in the midst of the Cold War. Gregory Peck (God rest his soul) is superb as the US sub commander who is forced to recognize that his wife and children, left behind in America, are no more. Meanwhile, as the radioactive cloud nears Australia, Anthony Perkins performs magnificently as a new father who is forced to contemplate the coming deaths of his child and wife as the result of global thermonuclear war.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    You'll never see a better film than this!

    Where to start? This is quite simply one of the greatest films ever made. From the moment the submarine breaks the surface and breathes in the cool, unpolluted southern air after fighting a nuclear war, the mournful atmosphere of the film is incredible. The Australians' hideous sense of being the last, doomed pocket of survivors will send shivers down your spine, as will the ways in which a group of friends spend their last few months. Everything is right about this film, the acting, the script and especially the ever-more chilling renditions of 'Waltzing Matilda' as the final days approach. I'm not one to blub during films but the sheer emotional power of the ending bought a big lump to my throat. So many scenes stand out - the sailor who goes AWOL in a dead San Francisco, the last Australian Grand Prix, the final dive of the submarine. And all this in black and white with no special effects to speak of. I can't recommend this film more - buy it now!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    On the Beach is all washed up!

    I borrowed the movie On the Beach because I wanted to see Melbourne the city where I was born in back the late 1950's. Well Stanley Kramer really screwed it up. Im sure they blocked off Elizabeth street to film the part where Anthony Perkins gets off the tram and enters the GPO (AKA the department of the Navy) Why were there all these bicycles and horse and carts travelling down the street. Melbourne had alot of cars and in fact had a parking problem. Furthermore, there was a sequence where a gentleman is walking down the street and passes a FJ holden car with its lights falling out and obviously parked incorrectly on a main steet with its door wide open. The man slams the door shut with his stick. What's going on here. Why has Kramer identified Melbourne as a rumbling falling down cow town where all the locals travel by horse and cart?? Furthermore, I just loved the sequence where Greg Peck gets off the train at Frankston and Ava picks him up in a horse and buggy (Made in the USA she says) Hell, are we all that primative?? Kramer just didn't understand the beauty and history behind the city and land. Melbourne is a very sophisticated and conservative city none of which were represented in the film. Auistralians were depicted as a bunch of ocker monsters and would rather be dead drunk and passed out than anything else. The only part I enjoyed were the beach scenes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A must-see for every high school English class

    This classic film, based on the novel of the same name by Nevil Shute, portrays a chilling post-nuclear world. It is heartbreaking at times, particularly in the scenes featuring Peter and Mary Holmes with their baby -- who will never get the chance to grow up. The film is blunt in its anti-nuclear message, and the images of empty streets harshly drive home the reality. This is your fate, the film seems to say, should you be reckless with science. A superb cast, particularly Peck and Perkins.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews