Thursday, 9 July 2015

Film: The Day The Earth Caught Fire (1961)

The end of the world is nigh; not a good time for Daily Express journalist Peter Stenning (Edward Judd) to fall for Met Center employee Jeannie Craig (Janet Munro). The film's as much about the pressures involved in journalism as it is about The Bomb. It's pacey script (for which Wolf Mankowitz and director Val Guest won a BAFTA) matches the speed with which the disaster grows. I haven't seen another British film which matches the Hollywood art of swift-lipping dialogue the way this does. Munro shines and Leo McKern's perfect as the hard-boiled veteran journalist. It's an eco disaster movie but also a story of government secrecy and personal betrayal. Despite model boats bobbing perilously as the weather runs riot, Guest's direction tells the tale convincingly. Not long after London was burning from German bombs and banning the big one was a hot topic, the sense of historical significance in this morality tale is strong. Despite being of its time, however, viewers today can't help but see something of our very real global warming catastrophe in later sequences. Highly recommended. 

The full film is on YouTube

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