Apart from being a better movie with a similar theme, Dr. Strangelove (1964) clearly had the future zeitgeist down pat in a way that On the Beach clearly doesn’t, but paradoxically this makes the Kramer film far more useful as a time capsule. What I still find affecting about this film in spite of everything is the everyday manner in which characters move in and out of denial about their upcoming and inevitable extinction.
Although he understandably gives in to temptation on occasion (the final onscreen message being particularly overwrought), Kramer doesn’t overdo the anti-nuclear soapboxing, preferring to let wordless scenes of a radiation-suited sailor exploring a wholly deserted San Diego make his point for him.
After opening the movie with a relationship as passionate and believeable as the one between Anthony Perkins and Donna Anderson's characters, the extreme lack of chemistry between Peck's stiff captain and Gardner's irritating, overacted Moira was almost unbearable. Restrained and mature sci-fi in places; a real shame it couldn't find better emotional anchors in its stars.
Well adapted, well paced & well acted. Does anyone play stoic better than Gregory Peck? It captures the book's air of futility startingly well. The shot of Swain watching the submarine never fails to choke me up and the last 20-30 minutes are some of the most depressing scenes in cinematic history. "We're all doomed you know. The whole silly, drunken, pathetic lot of us. Doomed by the air we're about to breathe."
Une dernière petite colonie d'hommes et de femmes survit difficilement dans un coin d'Australie, après une guerre nucléaire, en attendant l'arrivée des mortels nuages radioactifs ..... Un avenir possible !
I think this is a remarkable film. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it captures the spirit of the book, the idea of the end of the world approaching inexorably and the population having to cope with it in quiet desperation. "This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper".
Nice performance by Fred Astaire.