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The Day The Earth Caught Fire [DVD] 
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Val Guest writes and directs this sci-fi drama. After global nuclear testing knocks the world off its axis, temperatures begin to rise rapidly as the planet is sent careering towards the sun. In London the heat is causing the Thames to dry up as baffled Daily Express reporter Peter Stenning (Edward Judd), his colleague Bill Maguire (Leo McKern), and his girlfriend Jeanne Craig (Janet Munro), resolve to get to the bottom of the matter. After battling the Government for the truth, they are shocked to discover the fate of their planet and must search for a solution before it's too late.
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`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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
best film ever esp if you like disaster movies!
the actual cd and package was all as expected/
Great to see this again as it scared me to death when I was a child.Published 11 months ago by Sidney Torquay
The day the earth caught fire has some memorable scenes with excellent effects. The science behind the story dosent quite fit reality but that certainly does nothing to detract... Read morePublished 11 months ago by sam the eagle
cracking film-really works well-elements oF H.G.Wells-early 60s cold war paranoia and cracking script-Edward Judd delivered a pacy,witty sardonic performance-BUY THIS FILM!Published 13 months ago by The Boy Bambi