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ON THE BEACH (1959)
Article #312 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 1-21-2002
Posting date: 6-7-2002

Various people living in Australia await their eventual death by radiation after the rest of the world has been destroyed in nucleur holocaust.

Science Fiction drama is a rare enough commodity that I think it praiseworthy when attempts are made in its direction, and there are many scenes in this movie that are quite effective. However, I do have certain reservations about the movie; it's overlong, for one thing. It's also a little too much of a Hollywood movie for my taste, particularly in the romance subplot. And it's so taken with its own seriousness that you find yourself longing for more moments of wit and humor, even if it does turn out to be gallows humor. That's why two of my favorite scenes in the movie are ones that undercut the ponderousness of the proceedings by being slightly bizarre and amusing; a somewhat curious conversation between two wine connoisseurs bemoaning the fact that there's not enough time to drink the 400 bottles of port, and the conversation between the crewman who stays in San Francisco and Gregory Peck who talks to him through the intercom of the submarine, a slightly surreal touch that adds dimension to the tragedy of the moment. Outside of that, the most interesting thing about the movie is seeing Fred Astaire essaying his first dramatic role after having been in motion pictures for nearly thirty years. Ava Gardner and Anthony Perkins are also present.

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