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The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)

Cast: Janet Munro, Janet Munro, Leo McKern, more...
Director: Val Guest, Val Guest
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Anchor Bay
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Science Fiction , Disaster Action, British Drama, UK
Running Time: 99 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

Despite its come-on title, The Day the Earth Caught Fire is an intelligent, disturbing piece of speculative fiction. Through the eyes of British reporter Peter Stenning (Edward Judd), we learn that both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. have simultaneously set off nuclear explosions to test their efficiency. The twin blasts have caused the Earth to go off its axis. The result is a disastrous upheaval in the balance of nature; floods and fires being the principal plagues. With the end of the world staring everyone in the face, chaos reigns. The only hope lies in another massive nuclear explosion, which will hopefully rebalance the Earth. The film ends ambiguously, with viewers allowed to decide for themselves whether or not the world has been saved. In the original prints of The Day the Earth Caught Fire, the opening and closing reels were tinted yellow, representing the scorching heat beating down on the frightened populace. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

It's the end of the world thank God by garkell June 21, 2004 - 4:33 PM PDT
2 out of 5 members found this review helpful
Great restoration, crystal-clear transfer and astonishing tinted sequences. Could have been made yesterday, it's that good.
I guess I was expecting a different mood to the film like in Crack in the World or such. Not really any suspense in this film. It's much more a type of desparate love story. Love me before the world ends, know what I mean? The characters never seem too paniced by the impending doom. They are more involved in getting inside each others head. Dating is such a bore.
I have to admit the film has more substance and better direction than others. But since I am anti-relationships these days I was sort of hoping for more sci-fi than a love story.

London's Burning by mdraine March 2, 2003 - 1:27 PM PST
8 out of 9 members found this review helpful
Like Ray Bradbury, director/writer Val Guest used science fiction as a medium for exploration of the human condition. Don't be misled by the DVD's Asteroid-style cover art: this black and white 1961 British independent production avoids apocalyptic sci-fi cliches. Rather than a square jawed scientist-hero of Hollywood convention, the protagonist, Peter Stenning (Edward Judd), is a world-weary, alcoholic journalist, already en route to disaster when the story begins.
Former Disney starlet Janet Munro plays Jeannie, a government employee who sparks Stenning's liquor-soaked passions. In a world of official secrets and impending cataclysm, Stenning's contempt for authority proves more realistic than Jeannie's naive faith that "the people at the top are cleverer than we are." While Jeannie's trust in authority proves misplaced, Stenning finds his cynicism a thin shield against the ultimate existential crisis. The profiteering and thuggery with which Londoners face their encroaching incineration leaves the lingering question: does humanity deserve to survive?
A stunning anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer restores the original tinted frame sequences, and showcases matte painter Les Bowie's enhancement of the films sense of scale. Global warming, news blackouts, and short-sighted environmental policies lend The Day the Earth Caught Fire a disquieting, prophetic relevance. -- Michael Draine

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.59)
29 Votes
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