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On the Beach

Gregory Peck , Ava Gardner , Stanley Kramer    Unrated   VHS Tape
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

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Stanley Kramer's 1959 antiwar movie looks like everything Kramer did: subtle as a car wreck but undeniably affecting. Gregory Peck plays a submarine commander looking for survivors in Australia after a nuclear holocaust. Ava Gardner is among them and, somewhat improbably under the circumstances, becomes his love interest. Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins are among the characters awaiting death from the gradual spread of radiation from the north. One might scoff at Kramer's implicit finger-wagging about nuclear politics in this mad, mad, mad, mad world, but it is hard to stop watching this compelling drama all the same. --Tom Keogh

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great anti-war film April 21 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Great anti-war film. Very brave for it's era. Not everything has to have explosions and special effects to get the job done. A rare outing for Fred Astaire in a dramatic role. Answers the question as well - under what conditions is it worth surviving ? Strong stuff - horribly overlooked these days. Perhaps only equalled by the film 'Johnny got his gun'.
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By Amazon Customer TOP 500 REVIEWER
This film hits you like a freight train, and you just can't take your eyes off the screen. The characters are sympathetic - all of them - and you wonder what you'd do in a similar situation. This could have happened when this movie was made. Change the nuclear to climate-change and it could again. With similar eerie, in-your-face ending. This is one of my all time favourite films!
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5.0 out of 5 stars On The Beach( Import) June 8 2014
By Annie
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is one Movie I kept looking for was so pleased to get it, could of don't without the sub lines but enjoyed it all the same, an all time gret.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An Oldie but a Goodie Feb. 12 2012
In the days of the Cold War; in the days when there were two super powers in the world; and, in the days when the atomic bomb hung over the heads of the western world we all waited for the day the world would end with radio-activity spreading around the globe. This movie is the story of what that might look like. It is a clasic. It is particularly well done.
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By Amazon Customer TOP 500 REVIEWER
I know there are some scientific discrepancies and that the sub is actually diesel and not nuclear, but I don't care. I'm not anal enough to have those details detract from a first-rate movie. And this is a first-rate movie! It kept me on the edge of my seat again - and I remember those days in which this film was made. Air raid drills and 'what to do in a nuclear explosion' drills. It WAS scary. This film captures that time, and that fear exactly as I recall it! The cast was super - Peck, Gardner, Astair and Perkins very solid in their role, along with the supporting cast as well. This film takes me back to those days - and reminds me how lucky we were that the film didn't become true. It still could. The musical score is a wonderfully haunting score that takes you right in. Altogether, this film is a triumph of film making and a treasure, then, and now.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars HEAVY HANDED BUT HAUNTING IMAGES May 28 2002
Probably the most haunting of all movie beach scenes is in Stanly Kramer's heavy-handed 1959 anti-nuclear message movie in which a handful of characters await death via drifting radiation -- among them Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner. A lone figure running down an otherwise empty Australian beach -- on what may be a humanless world -- is a hard image to shake. Escaping to the beach does not always guarantee a happy ending.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the ultimate Cold War film June 20 2004
This is the film that for me captures the terror I felt as a child, growing up at the height of the Cold War; it is bleak and intense, with scenes that are forever etched in my mind. It's one of the great films of that era ("Seven Days in May" and "Fail Safe" are others) that I can watch repeatedly, and their power and impact are never diminished.
Based on Nevil Shute's best seller, and brilliantly directed by Stanley Kramer, the use of sound effects combined with Ernest Gold's Oscar nominated score is very effective. Sometimes the simplest noise set against complete silence is ominous, and gives the feeling of the desolation of empty cities.
As time runs out, people try to avoid the "morbid discussion" of what awaits them, and some make the most of those precious days, weeks and months, like the elderly scientist Julian (in an exceptional performance by Fred Astaire), who completes his dream of being a race car driver.
Both strong and tender, Gregory Peck is fabulous as Dwight Towers, the commander of a submarine, who has trouble accepting that he is alive, while his family are victims of the "monstrous war". The woman who falls in love with him is Ava Gardner, who has spent far too much time being consoled by a bottle of brandy. The plot is filled out by Anthony Perkins and Donna Anderson, a young couple facing the fact that their baby has no future.
In the late 50s and early 60s, the scenario in this film was all too real; we face other dangers now, but there was something truly chilling about those Cold War years, and this film vividly brings back the memory of them. Total running time is 134 minutes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The end of the world as we know it... June 13 2004
An unforgettable movie that is as important and as powerful today as when it was first released.
Shute took his title from a stanza from T S Eliot's The Hollow Men:-
In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river...
The tumid (swollen) river is metaphorical, as is the beach, given that Eliot's bleak, desolate landscape is a spiritual one, as in his classic work, The Wasteland.
Shute's movie is utterly compelling all the way through, partly due to the subject matter, helped along by a stunning cast, and very capable production and direction.
The scene in which the Sub arrives in the US to check on the erratic morse signal was actually shot in Australia, as they could not obtain permission to film it in the US.
There was a very creditable 2000 Showtime version with Rachel Ward and Armand Assante, which was truer to the book, although set closer to present time, but the Peck version is still the definitive one.
You cannot top this movie for dramatic content, brilliantly delivered by Peck, Gardner, Perkins and Astaire above all.
Yes, this could still happen, and yes, nuclear deterrence may well have worked so far, but I always remember a line from Bob Dylan's "If God's On Our Side", which goes...
If God's on our side,
He'll stop the next war...
Maybe he did.
Peace y'all.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth viewing, even if not realistic
On the Beach fails the realism test in two ways: scientifically and behaviorally. The first is forgivable; 40+ years ago, there was less understanding of what nuclear war would do... Read more
Published on July 17 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Still A Good Movie
This movie is now a bit dated but it remains one of my favorites.
Some of the scenes in the movie, including the segment where the US submarine Sawfish visits a vacant and... Read more
Published on Feb. 16 2004 by J. E. Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterful production on how "it really ends"
To me, the magnificance of the Nevil Shute "On the Beach" novel, and this movie, is that it is an honest, believeable account of the end of the world as seen by the remaining... Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars A Film of the Heart and Mind
Without going deeply into the details of the film, described well elsewhere, I would like to say it is well done in the sense of representing a possible future reality in a down to... Read more
Published on Jan. 10 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars ON THE BEACH
This is one of the all time classics in every respect. Some consider the message anti-war. It's not really. Instead, Shute's making a statement of the human condition. Read more
Published on Dec 13 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Still a powerful film
Some people have said this film is dated, but remember, during the Cold War years of the 50's and 60's and even afterwards the specter of a possible nuclear conflagration between... Read more
Published on June 14 2003 by magellan
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