Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1960s Day the Earth Caught Fire, The (1961)

Day the Earth Caught Fire, The (1961)

Atomic explosions from nuclear testing by the Americans and Russians at the two poles put the Earth on a collision course with the Sun in this bleak British doomsday vision, where the Thames is empty of water and a heavy sun beats down on a parched West End.

With the emphasis on the reactions of some of London’s Daily Express reporters Peter Stenning (Edward Judd) and Bill Maguire (Leo McKern) to the impending catastrophe rather than elaborate special effects, this tautly intelligent sci-fi thriller hits all the right buttons, helped by a script full of fatalistic quips and apocalyptic cynicism.

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As the world gets warmer, scientists battle to find a way to save the planet and the superpowers plan to explode two more bombs hoping to set the planet back on its original orbit.

Engrossing, with a memorable fade-out on two possible newspaper headlines- one for salvation and one for doom.

The film is also notable for its casting of Disney sweetheart Janet Munro as a sultry sexpot in daring, semi-clad love scenes with Edward Judd – a liberating role she plays with relish. Munro would die of heart failure at just 38.

Bill Maguire
Leo McKern
Jeannie Craig
Janet Munro
Peter Stenning
Edward Judd
Jackso Jackson, Night Editor
Michael Goodliffe
Davis, News Editor
Bernard Braden
Reginald Beckwith
Gene Anderson
‘Jef’ Jefferson, Editor
Arthur Christiansen
Sir John Kelly
Austin Trevor
Renée Asherson
Michael Caine

Val Guest