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The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)

Unrated | | Drama, Sci-Fi, Romance | 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 »

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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 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:

Never leave atomic bombs where children can reach them. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Sci-Fi | Romance

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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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 »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Black and White (with tinted sequences)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Editor James Needs used stock footage from Hammer's The Quatermass Xperiment (1955), also directed by Val Guest, of a fire truck racing through the night past the patrol station in Bray. See more »

Goofs

Miss Evans picks up the phone in Jefferson's office and tells Jefferson "Professor Chakovski (sp?) is on the phone." Then a slightly different-sounding dubbed-in woman's voice says "just a minute, please," but Evans' mouth doesn't move. (Approximately 42:30.) See more »

Quotes

Peter Stenning: Anything you can split I can split better!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The credits say introducing Edward Judd, but he has 39 listed credits before this movie. See more »

Alternate Versions

Although listed as cut by the BBFC, the then censor John Trevelyan passed the film uncut according to his memoirs. The 'X' certificate was given due to the subject matter, and occasional tough language, being unsuitable for anyone under the age of 16. Video and DVD releases are now rated PG. See more »

Connections

References Annie Get Your Gun (1950) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
The Day the Earth Caught Fire
3 March 2004 | by EdgarSTSee all my reviews

1961's "The Day the Earth Caught Fire" must be judged according to the parameters of classics as 1951's "The Day the Earth Stood Still", and not today's special effects mega productions in which the perspective of the disappearance of planet Earth is taken with cynic humor. The idea came to director Val Guest during the Cold War in 1954, and it is under that decade's spirit that the movie is better appreciated. I remember seeing it when it opened, and I've never forgotten that experience, specially its tinted sequence. Forty-three years later I am able to see it again, and it's still the same notable film, not the least affected by today's cinematic technology, because, in its core, Guest's motivation -the worry for the actions of mindless men who struggle to control the Earth- is still relevant. If it's not highly regarded today as "The Day the Earth Stood Still", I think it has to do with the fact that Universal sold it as a B movie in America (though not so by British Lion in the UK, where it was a huge success, and won the film industry's top prize for its screenplay) and because not too many critics paid attention to it and wrote positive reviews, establishing it as an important science-fiction movie since then. Although there are very few re-enacted disaster scenes and it relies upon footage of real catastrophes, the tension is handled effectively in the newspaper's office where most of the action takes place, with its overlapping dialogues and constant flow of new information; and in the development of the romantic story in the midst of violence and terror in the streets. Edward Judd, Janet Munro and Leo McKern contribute good performances to this fine movie, shot in wide-screen Dyaliscope.


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