On the Beach

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Some storylines are impossible to explain, you have to see them unfold to grasp the nuances and complexity of the film. This is such a storyline, which seems simple on the surface, but beneath that surface lies layer upon layer of detail. Instead of telling too much about the movie’s movement, I’ll do the opposite, and tell you too little. This way, you can enjoy the events as they happen, and not be waiting for or dreading a particular moment or scene. The effects of nuclear war have taken their toll on the global population, and little remains of the world we once knew. Life has been wiped out, and only exists on the island of Australia, where the crew of the U.S. submarine Sawfish have been stationed. But the island is not safe forever, with the radiation cloud making it’s way toward them by the second. A scouting mission reveals the cloud has not weakened, and the survivors have precious little time before the world ends. With time running out, the inhabitants of the island attempt to realize dreams and make their final days and hours well spent. With no other options, these men and women are forced to confront the fact that their lives will be over in mere days, and come to grips with themselves and their former lives.

I am a big fan of movies where the world is going to end, so of course I liked this flick. The characters are so well crafted, I couldn’t help but hope there was some type of saving grace, and the people could remain alive after all. Seeing how different people cope with pending doom is always entertaining, and these folks are more fun to watch than most. Again, instead of discussing aspects of the film I liked or disliked, I am just going to state that I enjoy the movie. I think this is the type of movie where words cannot explain without giving away details the eyes were meant to see first. So, I will leave it at this. I recommend this movie to fans of classic cinema and drama/suspense fans, and there’s even a little romance thrown in as well. I have to recommend a rental for all but hard-core fans of the movie, since the disc is below the standards we expect from this format.

The director of this movie, Stanley Kramer, has a long and storied career as a director, and this movie is just one of the fantastic movies on his resume. You expect a great movie from the director of Inherit The Wind, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, and Ship of Fools, and with On The Beach, you’ll get one. You’ll also see a terrific ensemble cast, led by Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner. Peck (The Guns of the Navarone, The Boys From Brazil) has made an art form out of playing military roles, and he is as good as ever here. Known for her beauty rather than acting, Gardner (Show Boat, One Touch of Venus) manages to pull of a very nice performance here, one of her best dramatic turns. The impressive supporting cast includes Guy Doleman (The Ipcress File, Funeral in Berlin), Fred Astaire (Royal Wedding, Holiday Inn), John Tate, Donna Anderson (Inherit The Wind), and Anthony Perkins (Psycho, The Black Hole).

Video: How does it look?

On The Beach is presented in a 1.66:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. Since the film is presented in the black and white format, contrast levels are of supreme importance. The image is very well done, with no serious problems emerging at all. The brighter segments of the image look good, with whites being sharp, never blooming, and shadow layering is excellent as well. The print shows some wear signs, but this is expected from a film this old.

Audio: How does it sound?

The audio is delivered via the original mono track, which sounds good, but is low key due to the mono format. While all the elements are present and clear, the audio lacks the punch a full surround track would carry. That’s to be expected from the format however, and this track is more than adequate given the format limitations.

Supplements: What are the extras?

There are some production notes included inside the insert booklet.

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