The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)

Unrated   |    |  Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi


The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) Poster

When the U.S. and Russia unwittingly test atomic bombs at the same time, it alters the nutation (axis of rotation) of the Earth.


7.2/10
4,668

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11 December 2005 | Coventry
7
| O-oh, the weather outside is frightful...
Good old-fashioned, black & white Science Fiction/disaster-movie classic that effectively emerges two giant contemporary fears at once, namely the Cold War and the rapidly evolving nuclear science. Whereas most other 60's Sci-Fi movies used the versatile side-effects of nuclear testings for grotesque apocalypse stories, involving mutated animals or even people, the premise of "The Day the Earth Caught Fire" is much more realistic and genuinely disturbing. A duo of Daily Express reporters discover, with the help of a weather girl, that the earth has been tilted off its axis because both the Russians and the Americans ignited their H-bombs simultaneously. The unusually high temperatures in Londen, as well as other inexplicable weather phenomenons, indicate that our planet is moving towards the sun very fast. Despite an obvious lack budget, director Val Guest (creator of other genre milestones such as "The Quatermass Experiment" and "The Abominable Snowman") did everything possible to make this film look like a captivating and paranoid drama. The images of a dying Londen, enshrouded in fog and heat, are truly atmospheric and there also are some very intelligent extra elements added, like new epidemics as a result of water shortness. Surprisingly enough, there's even room for an honest (and credible, for once) love-story between the cynical reporter and the overly-emotional weather-girl. Personally, I didn't really like the ending but it does typify 60's cinema greatly. The acting performances are splendid, with Leo McKern ("X-the Unknown"), Edward Judd ("Island of Terror") and the adorable Janet Munro (former child star of "Swiss Family Robinson"). The Day the Earth Caught Fire is a vastly underrated Sci-Fi gem, probably because it wasn't a Hammer production, and genre fans should urgently re-discover it. Highly recommended!

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Budget:

GBP200,000 (estimated)

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