On the Beach
Starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire, Anthony Perkins
On the Beach is a post-apocalyptic drama film directed by Stanley Kramer and written by John Paxton, based on Nevil Shute's 1957 novel of the same name.
Stanley Kramer won the 1960 BAFTA for best director and Ernest Gold won the 1960 Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Score. The film was remade as an Australian television film by Southern Star Productions in 2000.
Like the novel, much of the film takes place in Melbourne, close to the southernmost part of the Australian mainland. Beach scenes were filmed at the foreshore of Cowes on Phillip Island.
The racing sequences were filmed at Riverside Raceway in California and at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, home to the present day Australian motorcycle Grand Prix, conveniently near Cowes at Phillip Island.
These scenes include an array of late 1950s sports cars, including examples of the Jaguar XK150 and Jaguar D-type, Porsche 356, Mercedes-Benz 300 SL "Gullwing", AC Ace, Chevrolet Corvette and prominent in sequences was the "Chuck Porter Special", a customized Mercedes 300SL.
Built by Hollywood bodyshop owner Chuck Porter and driven by a list of notable 1950s to 1960s west coast racers, including Ken Miles and Chuck Stevenson, who purchased and successfully raced it in the early 1960s.
The U.S. Department of Defense as well as the United States Navy refused to cooperate in the production of this film, not allowing access to their nuclear-powered submarines. The film production crew was forced to use a non-nuclear, diesel-electric Royal Navy submarine, HMS Andrew.
On the Beach premiered simultaneously in several major cities around the world, including Moscow in the Soviet Union. The film recorded a loss of $700,000.
Despite this, the movie received positive praise in its day and in later years. It also got a fan base that agreed on many of the issues presented.
The Angry Red Planet (1959) Color
Starring Billy Curtis, Gerald Mohr, Jack Kruschen, Les Tremayne, Nora Hayden, Paul Hahn
Martians get mad--then get even! Light years ahead of its time, this slick sci-fi flick is "science-fantasy, monster-movie and romance all rolled into one" (Hollywood Citizen News).
With Martians like the leggy and very hairy "batratspidercrab," plus a rolling jello amoeba with rotating eyes, and flesh-eating plants, you'll think twice about jumping into a space ship--no matter where it's headed.
When an Earth rocket lands on Mars, the crew finds the planet more pink than red and not entirely dead. As these well-armed scientists begin to explore, they are attacked by unbelievable demented and horrific creatures at every turn.
Battling for their lives, the survivors make it back to their ship only to discover intelligent life--and a warning they'll never forget! In the film, the tiny, three-eyed Martian chartacter is played by actor Billy Curtis.
First Spaceship on Venus (1959) Color
Starring Yoko Tani, Aldrick Lukes
Based on "The Astronauts" by the great Stanislaw Lem (SOLARIS), this SF curio also boasts a multinational cast, as well as beautiful photography and production design. Though Lem disowned the film, it stands on its own rather well and is probably one of the best SF films from the fifties.
First Spaceship on Venus begins in 1985, when engineers involved in an industrial project to irrigate the Gobi Desert, accidentally unearth a mysterious and apparently artificial "spool". When found to be made of a material unknown on Earth, the spool is circumstantially linked to the Tunguska explosion of 1908.
The "spool" is seized on as evidence that the explosion, originally blamed on a meteor, was actually caused by a spaceship. Internationally renowned Professor Harringway pinpoints the alien craft's origin within Earth's own orbit - with Venus the only reasonably habitable world.
The spool itself is quickly discovered to be a flight recorder, and partially decoded by an international team of scientists led by Professor Sikarna and Dr. Tchen Yu.
The Giant Gila Monster (1959)
B&W / Colorized
The Giant Gila Monster is a 1959 hot rod monster science fiction film directed by Ray Kellogg, and produced by Ken Curtis.
It stars Don Sullivan, a veteran of several low budget monster and zombie films, Lisa Simone, the French contestant for Miss Universe of 1957, as well as Fred Graham, comedy relief Shug Fisher, KLIF disc jockey Ken Knox and Bob Thompson.
This low-budget B-Movie featured a cast of unknown actors, and the effects included a live gila monster filmed on a scaled-down model landscape. The movie has been released on DVD and is considered a cult classic.
Filmed near Dallas, the film was budgeted at $175,000 and was produced by Dallas drive in theater chain owner Gordon McLendon who wished co-features for his main attractions. McLendon shot the film back to back with The Killer Shrews. Both films were feted as the first feature films shot in and produced in Dallas and the first movies to premiere as double features.
In exchange for doing the special effects, Ray Kellogg was allowed to direct the film. Ken Curtis allowed Sullivan to pick his songs that gave the film popularity with the teenage market.
Synopsis: The movie opens with a young couple parked in a bleak, rural locale overlooking a ravine. A giant gila monster attacks the car, sending it into the ravine and killing the couple. Later, some friends of the couple decide to assist the local sheriff (Fred Graham) in his search for the missing teens.
Chase Winstead (Don Sullivan), a young mechanic and hot rod racer, locates the crashed car in the ravine and finds evidence of the giant lizard.
However, it is only when the hungry reptile attacks a train (a model train set substituted as a low-budget effect) that the authorities realize they are dealing with a (roughly) 70-foot poisonous lizard. By this time, emboldened by its attacks and hungry for prey, the creature attacks the town.
It makes straight for the local dance hall where all the teenagers had gathered for a sock hop. However, Chase packs his prized hot rod with nitroglycerin and rigs it to speed straight into the monster, terminating the lizard in a fiery explosion and heroically saving the town.
On the Beach - Story and Screenshots
The story is set in a then-future 1964, in the months following World War III. The conflict has devastated the northern hemisphere, polluting the atmosphere with nuclear fallout and killing all life. While the bombs were confined to the northern hemisphere, air currents are slowly carrying the fallout south. The only areas still habitable are in the far southern hemisphere, like Australia.
From Australia, survivors detect an incomprehensible Morse code signal from San Diego in the United States. In the hope that someone is still alive back home, the last American nuclear submarine, USS Sawfish, under Royal Australian Navy command, is ordered to sail north from Melbourne to try to make contact with the signal sender.
The captain, Dwight Towers (Gregory Peck), leaves behind his good friend, the alcoholic Moira Davidson (Ava Gardner), despite his feelings of guilt about the deaths of his wife and children in Connecticut. Towers refuses to admit they are dead and continues to behave accordingly.
The Australian government arranges for its citizens to receive suicide pills and injections, so that they may end things quickly before there is prolonged suffering from the inevitable radiation sickness. An Australian naval officer, Peter Holmes (Anthony Perkins), and his naive and childish wife, Mary (Donna Anderson), who is in denial about the impending disaster, have a baby daughter.
Assigned to travel with the American submarine for several weeks, Peter tries to explain to Mary how to euthanize their baby and kill herself with the lethal pills in case he's not yet home when the time comes. Mary reacts violently at the prospect of killing her daughter and herself. One scientist's theory is that the radiation level near the Arctic Ocean could be lower than that found at mid-northern hemisphere.
If so, this would indicate the radiation could disperse before reaching the southern hemisphere. This was to be explored along with the submarine's main mission. After sailing to Point Barrow, Alaska, they determine that radiation levels are, on the contrary, intensifying. The submarine next stops at San Francisco. The views through the periscope show no signs of life and no damage to buildings.
One crewman jumps ship to spend his last days in his hometown. After attempting to convince the crewman to return, Towers accepts his decision. The crewman is last seen fishing as the Sawfish submerges. Sawfish then travels to an abandoned oil refinery in San Diego, where they discover that despite the fact that everyone is dead, the hydroelectric power station is still operating.
The ship's communications officer is sent ashore in a radiation suit to investigate. The mysterious signal is the result of a Coca-Cola bottle being bumped by a window shade fluttering in the breeze and tapping a telegraph key. The submariners return to Australia to live out the remaining time before the nuclear fallout reaches their shores. They do their best to enjoy what pleasures remain to them before dying.
Scientist Julian Osborn (Fred Astaire) and others participate in a previously scheduled motor race, the Australian Grand Prix, in which many participants, with nothing left to lose, die in accidents. The carnage perhaps allows amateur Julian Osborn, at the wheel of his vintage Ferrari, to win the race. Moira only sees the senselessness of the race, but when she asks Osborn why he is taking part, he responds, "Because I want to."
Prior to the submarine voyage to America, Towers told Moira about how he enjoys relaxing by fishing. During his absence, the Australian government moves the fishing season earlier, and Dwight gets one last chance to fish after all. With Towers now accepting the death of his family, he and Moira embark on a weekend trip to the country.
Retreating to the resort for the night, Dwight and Moira share a romantic interlude inside their room as, outside, a gathering storm howls. Returning to Melbourne, Towers is told one of his crew has developed radiation sickness. The deadly radiation has arrived. Some citizens seek spiritual guidance from the Salvation Army. They hang a banner from the public library stating that "There Is Still Time… Brother."
Osborn, proud and satisfied after winning the Australian Grand Prix, mounts his winner's plaque on his Ferrari, seals the garage and, sitting in the race car, guns the engine and ends his life by carbon monoxide poisoning. Others line up to receive their suicide pills. Later, Mary Holmes becomes emotionally unbalanced and must be placed under sedation. Later, she regains lucidity.
We see Peter enter their bedroom, and he drops something onto a table as we realize that we no longer hear the baby crying, which implies that he has just given their infant daughter the suicide drug.
Mary and Peter share a tender moment together before Mary decides that she has been "foolish and impractical" and tells her husband, "I'd like that cup of tea now," signaling that she and Peter will now take their suicide pills and die in each other's arms. Dwight wants to stay with Moira, but many of his remaining crew want to head for home and die in the United States.
In the end, Commander Towers chooses duty over his love for Moira and leads his crew back home, even though their chances of making it that far are virtually nonexistent. Moira watches from the shore as the Sawfish submerges beneath the waves.
The end shows the deserted, abandoned streets of Melbourne. The last shot, punctuated by emphatic music, is of a church banner that ironically reads "There Is Still Time… Brother".
The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959)
The World, the Flesh and the Devil is a science fiction doomsday film written and directed by Ranald MacDougall. The star is Harry Belafonte, who was then at the peak of his film career. The film is set in a post-apocalyptic world. It is based on two sources: the novel The Purple Cloud by M. P. Shiel and the story "End of the World" by Ferdinand Reyher.
African-American coal mine inspector Ralph Burton (Harry Belafonte) becomes trapped underground in a cave-in while inspecting a mine in Pennsylvania. He can hear rescuers digging towards him, but after a few days they slow down and then stop completely. Alarmed, he digs his own way out. Reaching the surface, he finds a deserted world. (No bodies are seen at any time in the film.)
Some discarded newspapers provide an explanation: one proclaims "UN Retaliates For Use Of Atomic Poison", another that "Millions Flee From Cities! End Of The World". Ralph later plays tapes at a radio station that an unknown nation had used radioactive isotopes as weapon, yielding a dust cloud that spread globally and was completely lethal for a five-day period.
Travelling to New York City in search of other survivors, he finds the city vacant. Ralph busies himself restoring power to a building where he takes up residence. Just as the loneliness starts to become intolerable, he encounters a second survivor: Sarah Crandall (Inger Stevens), a white woman in her twenties.
The two become fast friends, but Ralph grows distant when it becomes clear that Sarah is developing stronger feelings for him. Despite living in a post-apocalyptic world, he cannot overcome the inhibitions instilled in him in a racist American society. Ralph regularly broadcasts on the radio, hoping to contact other people. One day, he receives a signal from Europe.
Things become vastly more complicated when an ill, white Benson Thacker (Mel Ferrer) arrives by boat. Ralph and Sarah nurse him back to health, but once he recovers, Ben sets his sights on Sarah and sees Ralph as a rival. Ralph is torn by conflicting emotions. He avoids Sarah as much as possible, to give Ben every opportunity to win her affections, but cannot quite bring himself to leave the city.
Ben finally grows tired of the whole situation, realizing he stands little chance with Sarah as long as Ralph remains nearby. He warns Ralph that the next time he sees him, he will try to kill him. The two armed men hunt each other through the empty streets.
Finally, Ralph passes by the United Nations headquarters, climbs the steps in Ralph Bunche Park, and reads the inscription "They shall beat their swords into plowshares. And their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. Neither shall they learn war any more", from the Book of Isaiah 2:4.
He throws down his rifle and goes unarmed to confront Ben, who in turn finds himself unable to shoot his foe. Defeated, he starts walking away. Sarah appears. When Ralph starts to turn away from her, she makes him take her hand; then she calls to Ben and gives him her other hand. Together, the three walk down the street to build a new future together. The film ends not with "The End" but with "The Beginning".