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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Obscure But Excellent
Gosh - where to start!

`The Day The Earth Caught Fire' is one of the most intelligent science-fiction/apocalypse movies ever made, and that's that. If you can live with the completely absurd premise that our planet could be knocked over by 2 simultaneous atom-bomb tests, when the multi-million-megaton Chixulub impact of 65 million years ago didn't even make it...
Published on 26 Feb 2011 by Seatinthestalls

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars its not a bad film but not as good as i remember it ...
its not a bad film but not as good as i remember it being, the dialogue seems very forced, the concept is still a good one though and the message is clear
Published 8 months ago by Carl Swift


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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Obscure But Excellent, 26 Feb 2011
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This review is from: The Day The Earth Caught Fire [DVD] [1961] (DVD)
Gosh - where to start!

`The Day The Earth Caught Fire' is one of the most intelligent science-fiction/apocalypse movies ever made, and that's that. If you can live with the completely absurd premise that our planet could be knocked over by 2 simultaneous atom-bomb tests, when the multi-million-megaton Chixulub impact of 65 million years ago didn't even make it sneeze, then the rest is easy-peasy.

Set in London, and mostly from the standpoint of the `Daily Express' newspaper office, the disaster unfolds with frightening plausibility. Most movies of this genre usually had (and still have) a political, military or scientific overview with the media presented as little more than a side-issue, a baying mob. here, we see the story breaking from the actual standpoint of the media, a premise to which the Daily Express gave substantial support. It is the other instiutions that are marginalised.

Seldom-seen Edward Judd won his first starring role as a journalist on the skids. His marriage has broken down, he has limited access to his estranging son, he has become disillusioned, bitter, and wobbles on the threshold of alcoholism and dismissal. He now holds women in contempt. But although obnoxious, he is desperately vulnerable. Judd was a big man and handsome in the traditional British way. He had tremendous screen presence, not unlike Richard Burton. His character is kept in some sort of order by the science correspondent, an indulgent uncle-figure here played by excellent Leo McKern, who always brought a solid lump of gravitas to every role. See his conniving `Cromwell' in `A Man For All Seasons', not to mention his enduringly humorous `Rumpole'. Janet Munro is `the girl'. She is marked to bring salvation to Judd's character - if they survive. And a very fiesty heroine she presents. These three are core to a host of decent character actors, with cameos from Bernard Braden and a juvenile Michael Caine.

The climate-change effects are simple, but believable and harrowing. Clear genuine disaster footage is incorporated seamlessly. The sweaty spell is never broken by clumsy editing.

But the real high-point is the script. It's as sharp and witty as those of the best film-noir. Some have criticised it for being too smart; however, I don't agree. These people are journalists, wordsmiths; their business is the witty summation, the one-line header. And it keeps the story moving at a fast, intelligent pace.

It is surely a measure of the adult theme of this movie, that despite its vintage, and despite the absence of any graphic violence or explicit sex, it still commands the same `15' rating as the Coens' recent and extremely brutal `No Country For Old Men'. On a couple of occasions there is swearing. McKern utters the `B' word once.

The `Network' DVD is satisfactorily clear both visually and aurally. There are no extras.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic film, 10 Mar 2010
By 
Willma (Soutnh Wales, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Day The Earth Caught Fire [DVD] [1961] (DVD)
This is a great film. I saw this at the cinema when it first came out - boy, does that date me! I think that it is a very atmospheric film and, even with all the CGI that they have to work with today, I doubt very much if it could be bettered. I find the re-makes of some films are too frenetic, while this film is very low-key, which makes it all the more frightening. You can feel the temperature rising while the actors are sweating it out on screen, and the fog rolling up the Thames is a great effect. If you only buy one DVD of an old film, make it this one, you won't regret it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars British Anti Nuclear Film, 15 Jun 2005
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Mr. D. Swan "manmonkey" - See all my reviews
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I remember seeing this film on Saturday afternoons when I was a kid and rewatching as an adult made me appreciate just what this film has to say. The day the Earth caught fire was made at a time when people lived with the fear that world could at any time be decimated by nuclear war, even when I was a child it seemed quite probable yet people doggidly went on with there lives. There's an element of this in The day the Earth caught fire as people continue to live their lives as the earth rocked by nuclear tests hurtles towards the sun.
Edward Judd plays a reporter for a london newspaper who through bouts of drinking discovers that similtanious nuclear tests by the americans and russians have dislodged the earth from it's orbit and have set it on course to hit the sun, Judds not bad in the role and Janet Munro makes an excellent and sexy female interest but Leo McKern can't help but steal the show. His grizzled portrayal of Judds friend and newpaper journo is electrifying to watch. It's worth the money just to see him but you won't have wasted any cash on this film even if he hadn't been in it. The day the Earth caught fire is an intelligent taught and highly entertaining film, to call it Sci fi would be wrong, It's just an excellent drama with a slightly far fetched plot. Although at the time it really didn't seem that far fetched living under the shadow of the bomb.
The end is particularly un Hollywood as it leaves you hanging, never finding out the fate of the characters.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best British thrillers ever, 16 Nov 2003
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S. Hapgood "www.sjhstrangetales.com" - See all my reviews
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I know that's a pretty grand claim of mine in the title, but I really believe this is one of the most intelligent, well-acted, and chillingly effective films we've ever made. Made at the height of concern about nuclear warfare (this was the era of the CND Aldermaston marches), it takes the idea that by detonating two massive nuclear bombs at once we have caused the Earth to shift off its axis and ... gulp, we are now heading towards the sun! Much of the unfolding terror is seen through the eyes of journalists in a newspaper office covering daily what could be the oncoming end of the world. These scenes are highly effective indeed, most particularly the briefings in the Editor's office, and Leo McKern is splendid as a jaundiced hack getting his biggest (and most unwelcome!) story. As the days click on and society begins to unravel, with water rationing causing riots and old diseases making a comeback, you even get reminded of later terrifying docu-dramas like "The War Game" and "Threads". On a lighter note look out for a before-he-was-famous Michael Caine appearing briefly in one scene as a policeman doing traffic duty.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great writing, great atmosphere, great DVD, 7 Jan 2002
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I'd forgotten just how good this film is. Fine performances bring to life a very good script and the setting is brilliantly realised. This isn't just British SF at its best, its SF at its best. OK so some of the science is cobblers but the story is stylish and clever.
The DVD is excellent. A good range of extras and, most importantly, a brilliantly clear print of the film itself. The sepia tinged opening is particularly effective and looks better than ever.
And this is a film with one of those endings that you can never get out of your mind.
Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The cheaper re-release from Network., 2 Feb 2012
By 
SeaWasp (Sydney, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Day The Earth Caught Fire [DVD] [1961] (DVD)
Great movie, sure... but be aware that the new, cheaper, Network Dvd version (the one with the newspaper headline and picture of the three main stars on the cover) is completely devoid of extra features. Although it was also from Network Dvd, the earlier release had a lot of extras... even more than the original Anchor Bay disc.

If you want Val Guest's commentary, the Leo McKern interview and all the other stuff, then you will have to buy the more expensive earlier release which costs approximately three times as much at around 13 quid. It's up to you, of course...but be warned that the new release is strictly bare bones. Still has a beautiful 2.35:1 anamorphic picture but that's all you get.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Film, 12 Oct 2009
By 
E. A. Redfearn "eredfearn2" (Middlesbrough) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Day The Earth Caught Fire [DVD] [1961] (DVD)
First released in 1961, this classic sci-fi has stood the test of time. When two hydrogen bombs are detonated at the same time in different parts of the world, the result is that the Earth's tilt had been altered; or so it is thought.

Much of the story takes place within a newspaper office as a reporter played by Edward Judd suddenly finds himself the man of the moment when he discovers the real truth about what those two atomic detonations have actually caused. There are severe weather changes, storms, heatwaves, fog, floods and fires break out worldwide as the world population tries to come to terms with the knowledge that the earth is doomed unless scientists can come up with a solution which could save the world.

This is a fine film overall, well acted and directed, with decent special effects for its time. The scenes of London showing a dried up Thames are eerie, with added colour filters enhancing the heat as the world gradually comes to an end; or does it?

Actually the ending is left open for the viewer to decide whether the world is saved or not.

There is a great cast with many household names appearing throughout. Edward Judd's love interest is played by the lovely Janet Munro who died tragically young in 1968 of heart disease. Leo McKern, Austin Trevor, Bernard Braden, Reginald Beckworth, and before he became a Carry On regular, Peter Butterworth. A mention must also be made of Arthur Chrisitiansen, one time editor of Daily Express who was also Technical Advisor on the film.

I also believe that it remains to this day, one of the finest British films ever.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic sci-fi film not to be missed, 3 Feb 2011
By 
B. J. Davies "EntilZha" (The Rhondda, South Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Day The Earth Caught Fire [DVD] [1961] (DVD)
As others have said in response to this film, it is superb. I have the PG version (I don't know the difference between the one I have and the one rated 15) and I remember my father asking me if I wanted to watch this film with him when we first got a TV in the early 70's. I was instantly hooked on sci-fi and have been since.

When I watched this film all those years ago I thought it seemed that it could be real, I was entranced and kept asking my father questions about whether bombs could do this, would it really get hot enough for the roller in a typewriter to melt and the feet leave rubber marks on a desk. When I saw this on DVD I had to buy it, it was the first time I have seen it since then and my love of this film had not been jaded by time, my age, or my adult understanding of things. I admit to a sentimental and rose-tinted aspect to my wanting this film but in truth is really is a masterpiece and still holds its own after all these years.

Some 30 years after first watching this film with my dad on an old Redifusion TV, I watched it with him on his 42" plasma, lovely it was as well, like old times. This time I noticed a lot of things that I never did when I watched it through my child's eyes all those years ago. The acting is superb, the story is still gripping and the swear-word (when it is finally revealed what the bombs have done) was also a revelation as I never remember hearing that on TV. My dad also admitted that he and his friends had all gone to the cinema to see this film because they could have a glimpse of Monro's chest in a mirror, just for a second! Perhaps not strangely this is something I missed on the old TV in the 70's as well!

The attention to detail is fabulous, my favourite example of this occurs in the pub while they are waiting through the countdown for the bombs to detonate....5...4...3...2...1 - then there is a superb pause as there would be, before a minute wobble of the film and dust gets shaken from the rafters overhead. This is the sort of thing that can go unnoticed but it is so dramatic. The almost total lack of a backing soundtrack also adds to the reality of the story, indeed there's no need for one as the film carries itself. This is probably something that today, a film could not get away with.

This film is responsible for my being a real sci-fi fan, it was one hell of a way to get me introduced to the genre and the impact it left has lasted undiminished through the last 35 years or so. This is a fabulous old, and young, film. One hardly anyone had heard of and one that I hope they never re-make into a new version, destroying it as they did with The War of The Worlds and The Day The Earth Stood Still.

Everyone should watch it just once.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel . . ., 31 July 2002
This film is possibly one of my favourite black and white films.
It works on several layers including social commentary; moral philosophy; environmental destruction which includes Humankind's innate desire to experiment with forces it does not really understand.
The Nuclear Age began at Trinity, New Mexico USA at 05:30am on July 17, 1945, with Robert Oppenheimer quoting from the Bible on seeing the first mushroom cloud: "I am become Death - the shatterer of worlds."
The film uses the cinematic and narrative tool of the anti-hero in which we encounter a jaded journalist who discovers that without each others' knowledge Russia and America have conducted simultaneous nuclear detonations at the North and South poles. The result of these detonations is catastrophic with the Earth's axis being sent out of alignment and sending Earth on a one-way journey towards the sun.
Our protaganist has relationship and alcohol problems but is spurred into action in trying to discover why the weather has changed so dramatically in recent times.
As the film progresses we see in a sub-parody of Golding's 'Lord of the Flies' how civilisation can adopt anarchistic tendencies when faced with oblivion. Watch out for the scene with the young Beatnik crowd journeying through London as water rationing is imposed on London's citizens.
The film has a cliff hanger ending which should never be divulged to non-initiates but overall this film comes highly recommended by me as thought-provoking and a piece of cinematic excellence for the discerning and intelligent lover of good cinema.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE, 3 Dec 2010
By 
J. R. Fowler (Greater London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Day The Earth Caught Fire [DVD] [1961] (DVD)
This is the best sci-fi film ever made in this country. It knocks the American attempts into a cocked hat, but with a far lower budget and in glorious black and white - which,incidentally, works brilliantly given the hero's newspaper plays in the film.
Edward Judd should have gone on to stardom, but he didn't. He did ply his trade for a while in America,but he was always incidental to the films he was in, never central. This however is the best thing he ever did, and it bears watching frequently. The editor is the worst thing about it, which is ironical since he was the real thing.
Enjoy the tension, the heat,the snappy dialogue and revel in this British masterpiece.
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