On the Beach (1959)

134m, 3670 metres, 12,088 ft
35mm film, black and white, 1.66:1
mono, English

An American science fiction film directed by Stanley Kramer.

Plot Summary

In the aftermath of a , the northern hemisphere has become uninhabitable. A US submarine arrives in Melbourne, Australia, apparently untouched by the holocaust, where the inhabitants are preparing for the arrival of the and the inevitable mass death it will bring with it. But then a signal is detected in San Diego – could there be other survivors?


Director: Stanley Kramer
Lomitas Productions Inc
Producer: Stanley Kramer
Script: John Paxton
Novel: Nevil Shute
Director of Photography: Giuseppe Rotunno
Editor: Frederic Knudtson
Music: Ernest Gold
Sound Engineer: Hans Wetzel
Costumes: Atelier Fontana
Make Up: John O'Gorman, Frank Prehoda
Hair: Jane Shugrue
Special Effects: Lee Zavitz, Film Effects of Hollywood
Production Designer: Rudolph Sternad

Gregory Peck (Commander Dwight Lionel Towers)
Ava Gardner (Moira Davidson)
Fred Astaire (Julian Osborne)
Anthony Perkins (Lieutenant Commander Peter Holmes)
Donna Anderson (Mary Holmes)
John Tate (Admiral Bridie)
Harp McGuire (Lieutenant Sunderstrom)
Lola Brooks (Lieutenant Hosgood)
Ken Wayne (Lieutenant Benson)
Guy Doleman (Lieutenant Commander Farrel)
Richard Meikle (Davis)
John Meillon (Ralph Swain)
Joe McCormick (Ackerman)
Lou Vernon (Bill Davidson)
Kevin Brennan (Dr King)
Basil Buller-Murphy (Sir Douglas Froude)
John Casson (Salvation Army captain)
Paddy Moran (Stevens)
Grant Taylor (Morgan)

Alternative Titles

Le Dernier ravage – French title
A Hora Final – Brazilian title
Le hora final – Spanish title
Das Letzte Ufer – Austrian, West German title
Ostatni brzeg – Polish title
På stranden – Danish, Swedish title
L'ultima spiaggia – Italian title
Viimeisellä rannalla – Finnish title

See also
On the Beach (2000)
The Red Box (2000)

Production Notes

Along with Ben-Hur (1959), On the Beach received an unexpected boost when California's Episcopal Bishop James Pike used them as texts for his sermon at Grace Cathedral “On the Beach vividly portrays the threat to human existence imposed by nuclear warfare,” he said. “At the same time, it poses the perennial personal problem for each of us… Even without the devastating radiation which made obvious to the characters In the film that their time was nigh, the time for each of us In fact is always nigh; and hence valid for each of us is the problem of the characters in the story, namely, how do we use the time we have?” 1Daily Variety vol.106 no.20 (5 January 1960) pp.1, 11


Cinema Papers no.91 (January 1993) pp.18-23 (Australia) – illustrated production notes (On the Beach at Berwick by Joyce Agee)
Continuum vol.15 no.3 (November 2001) pp.189-301 (Australia) – article (The Persistence of Culture: recovering On The Beach by Helen Grace)
The Daily Cinema no.8244 (16 December 1959) p.14 – credits, review (by F.J.)
Daily Variety vol.106 no.20 (5 January 1960) pp.1, 11 (‘Hur', ‘Beach' get plugged in pulpit)
The Film Daily vol.116 no.106 (2 December 1959) p.10 – illustrated review (by Mandel Herbstman)
Films and Filming vol.6 no.3 (December 1959) p.21 – illustrated credits, review (by Peter Baker)
The Hollywood Reporter vol.157 no.45 (2 December 1959) p.3 – credits, review (by Jack Moffitt)
Kine Weekly no.2724 (17 December 1959) p.153 – review
Kine Weekly vol.512 no.2727 (7 January 1960) p.30 – note (Trade shows)
Kine Weekly vol.512 no.2729 (21 January 1960) p.13 – note (Your films by Josh Billings)
Kine Weekly vol.512 no.2730 (28 January 1960) p.13 – note (Your films by Josh Billings)
Metro no.127/128 (April 2001) pp.155-161 – illustrated article (Once more on to the beach by Constantine Vervis)
Monthly Film Bulletin vol.27 no.313 (February 1960) p.21 – credits, synopsis, review (by R.V.)
Motion Picture Herald vol.217 no.10 (5 December 1959) p. 507 – credits, review (by Charles S. Aaronson)
Music from the Movies no.23 (April 1999) pp.36-37 – illustrated soundtrack review (Rare vinyl: a consumer's guide by Mark Hasan)
Music from the Movies no.35/36 (December 2002) p.70 – soundtrack review (Film music review: archival by Andrew Keech)
Soundtrack! The Collector's Quarterly vol.21 no.84 (December 2002) p.11 – soundtrack review (On the Beach/The Secret of Santa Vittoria by Ross Care)
Time 28 December 1959 – review
Variety 2 December 1959 – credits, review

New York Daily News 18 December 1959 – review
New York Times 18 December 1959 p.34 – illustrated review (by Bosley Crowther)

Millennium Movies: Cinema by Kim Newman pp.102, 110, 130, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151, 153, 156, 166, 228, 235, 254 – illustrated review, notes
Omni's Screen Flights/Screen Fantasies: The Future According to Science Fiction Cinema – illustrated article (On the Beach: A Renewed Interest by Stanley Kramer)