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 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".