Monday, April 18, 2011

Ava Gardner & Gregory Peck in On The Beach (1959)

Obscurity factor: 3

Now to be honest, this film is borderline for this blog. It was a very big film at the time of its release, and Ava Gardner's first film after her contract ended with MGM. It was also directed by Stanley Kramer, who is no slouch, so students of film have known and studied this film in depth. If you weren't around when it was released and you're not a film student, then you might not have heard of it before.
American Captain Dwight Lional Towers (Gregory Peck) and his crew pilot their submarine into Melbourne harbor after a nuclear conflict that has wiped out the rest of the world. All that's left of the world population is in Australia. The Australian citizens are getting on as best they can and the government is trying to calculate if and when the nuclear fallout will reach them.  Captain Towers, his crew and a scientist (Fred Astaire) are charged with testing a theory about the radiation abating at the north pole, but not until Dwight is introduced to Moira (Gardner) by a new Australian crew member (Anthony Perkins) Moira, an Australian native, tries to help Dwight come to terms with his family's death. As they set out on their voyage disappointments await them at the north pole, down the west coast of the United States and upon returning to Melbourne.

In the scene above, uploaded to YouTube by slaxor, Julian explains to the crew his thoughts on how the conflict started. This film is available on DVD and can be seen frequently on TCM. The poster above is available at

Obscurity factor: 3 (known to film buffs, somewhat forgotten otherwise)


  1. I live in Melbourne and love seeing the city as it was in 1959. There's a lovely scene as the lead characters walk down Swanston Street (now Swanston Walk) and some pass identifiable landmarks such as the the Classic Coffee Lounge, a once great cafe with upstairs function room, now sadly a McDonalds (and worse, a "McCafe"). They also stop at the iconic Flinders Street Station which architecturally is roughly the same as it was in the 50s. There's also a shot taken from the General Post Office where an old billboard for Mazda Light Globes (featuring a fancy cat) can be seen. I'm pleased to say that ad mural is still mostly there.

  2. The shots of Melbourne are so wonderful in this film - the neon signs are great!