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
Top Customer Reviews
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.
One great film!
BUT, I wish I would have read the reviews on amazon.com about this Kino Lorber Blu-ray release before I bought it. At about the 60 minute mark the audio sound went out of sync with the visual part, by varying degrees, until the end of the film. I found it overall, every annoying to watch. This same issue has been quoted in a number of other reviews on many websites.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Starts slower than I remember but the last half an hour left a lump in my throat. Fred Astaire's acting in this movie was every bit as good as his dancing. Read morePublished 21 months ago by MarkSamuel
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... Read morePublished on June 12 2014 by Keith in Canada
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.Published on June 8 2014 by Annie