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Intriguing, offbeat film by famed radio writer-director Arch Oboler about the survivors of a nuclear holocaust. FIVE stars William Phipps, Susan Douglas and Charles Lampkin, and is probably the first film to deal with a post-apocalyptic theme.
Sony Pictures’ "Martini Movies" series, of which Five is one, consists of films clearly intended to be laughed at, not with; indeed, watching this 1951 turkey is like a Mystery Science Theater screening, except that you supply your own commentary. But give writer-director Arch Oboler credit for coming up with one of the earliest entries in the post-nuclear apocalypse genre. In this "story about the day after tomorrow," the titular five have survived the radioactive fallout that has effectively wiped out the rest of humanity and somehow ended up in the same place (Malibu, California; the shooting took place at Oboler’s home, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright). The five quickly become four, as an elderly banker succumbs to radiation sickness. That leaves a pregnant woman (Susan Douglas), a "philosopher" (William Phipps), an "explorer" (James Anderson), and a guy who was accompanying the banker; and since the latter is African-American and this is the early '50s, that means it’s up to the other two men, one a practical hard worker and the other a nonchalant layabout, to battle it out to see who’ll become Adam to the woman’s Eve. Not a whole lot happens in this "cheap honky-tonk of a world"--tensions mount; grass grows; they dance to a Strauss waltz--but there’s plenty of philosophizing about the new order and some reminiscing about the old one, most of it ludicrously melodramatic and pseudo-profound. Clearly this stuff is best apprehended with the help of a cocktail or two, and we are helpfully provided with two martini recipes to guide us through. Cheers! --Sam Graham
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It covers some racial issues too. If you're into these type of films, you'll like "The World, the Flesh, and the Devil" with Harry Belafonte. Again, some racial issue here. Going more sci-fi, check out "The Last Man on Earth" (Vincent Price), and "The Omega Man" (Charlton Heston". The house used in the movie is a famous hilltop building by Frank Lyoyd Wright.
This firm is almost exactly 90 minutes- and the best movies are always about that length-like a good stage production-nothing is wasted- the plot moves along and fits together in a coherest way. This dvd in black and white has first rate cinematography along with a structure designed by Frank Lloyd Wright that is a joy to see in and of itself.
This film along with "Panic in Year Zero" with ray Milland (1962) also made during the height of the Cold War when nuclear anhilliation was a possibility that was in "the back of many people's minds" would be a good duo to watch for thoughtful and discerning folks interested in issues of war and peace, human rights, and how people would act and life would play out for the survivors after a worldwide catastrophe. While I cannot think of a more downbeat subject matter, there is still shown that there is a part of the human spirit that can and does assert itself in the face of this most bleak of circumstances. In sum well worth seeing.
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