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A Movie A Day: Quint sees ON THE BEACH (1959)
God, forgive us. Peter… I think I’ll have that cup of tea now…

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day. [For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection or from my DVR and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.] Wow, what a fucked up, depressing-ass movie this is. Who would have thought there would be such a gut-punch of a movie made in this era? Maybe I’m just showing my naivite, but I do not associate the ‘50s with crazy downer movies, let alone post-apocalyptic ones.

Basically the flick is about Australia (strange coincidence that Baz Luhrmann’s movie was released today, ain’t it?) being the last bastion of humanity on the planet after nuclear war. And the diagnosis isn’t pretty for them, either. Something about the sea winds around the equator is keeping the nuclear fallout from hitting Australia yet, but their scientists estimate they only have months before it reaches Australia’s shore. Anthony Perkins is a young Aussie Navy man who is called in to represent Australia when Gregory Peck appears off Australia’s coast in an American submarine. He was on a mission when the missiles were launched and his crew might be all that remains of America.

Turns out the Naval higher-ups have been receiving a signal, sounds like morse code, but it’s erratic, probably meaning nothing. It’s coming from San Diego, which is supposed to be dead, without power… but something is transmitting. Maybe it’s a survivor that doesn’t know morse code? They decide to send the sub on a journey. First, they want it to go up North because some scientists theorize the snow and ice might have absorbed the nuclear fallout quickly enough to make it inhabitable. Then, if that turns out to be bogus, they’re to go to the Coast of California, locate the possible survivor and see how they survived. Sounds like a men on a mission movie, doesn’t it? It’s not, really. All that takes place in the second act and very little time is spent in the sub on the travel. What writer John Paxton and director Stanley Kramer instead focus on is the melodrama, exploring the psyche of a people that are on the brink of elimination… not just personally, but as a species.

And, of course, there’s a very, very strong and forward message about deproliferation of nuclear weapons, how it doesn’t make any sense to arm ourselves with weapons that essentially cause our suicide. We never see the war, only the results. And it’s not a barren wasteland, charred beyod belief. No, it’s more real than that. If nuclear war broke out, it’s not the impact zones that kill us all, it’s the radiation leftover. We never see an impact zone, we don’t see streets littered with bodies. When we do see areas outside of Australia, like San Francisco, it’s just empty. It’s a pretty creepy thing, actually to see the Golden Gate Bridge completely empty, with no movement on either side. Perkins has a family, a wife (Donna Anderson) and a baby girl. He’s strong for them, but his wife deals with the reality of their world in a different way than most. She just ignores it, not wanting to hear any talk of it, nothing. If she doesn’t hear about it then it’s not real for her. Perkins is a little more realistic, but still hopeful. Peck also under a bit of self-deception. He has a wife and family back home and he speaks of them as if there were no war. His kid is going to grow up and be a great sailor, for instance. Peck is fully rational, knowing full well what the state of the world is, but not when it comes to his wife and kids. He can’t accept that they’re gone and just won’t acknowledge it.

Ava Gardner is an Aussie woman who turns to drinking and enjoying what little time is left. She falls in love with Peck, and he with her, forcing him to let go of the illusion of his wife and children’s safety and continued existence. Fred Astaire takes what I believe is his first dramatic, non-musical role in this film as a British scientist (with no accent, I might add) and doomsayer. But he’s not a dark, brooding dickhead by any means, just doesn’t seem to have a filter when speaking about the end of times or any sense of what that kind of talk does to those around him. Those are our core group we follow and it’s a fascinating hodgepodge of ideals and points of view. I won’t spend much more time describing the movie for a couple of reasons… I don’t want to ruin it, first and foremost, but I’m also under the gun on the Holiday Shopping Guide and need to focus entirely on that, but let me just say that the dour tone really surprised me and the ending even more so. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more depressing “The End” credit in my life. I’ve seen harsher endings, but the placement of that final image, with the Waltzing Matilda instrumental playing, really is a kick to the dick. Final Thoughts: Everybody is strong here, especially Peck and Gardner, but the real star of this movie is the total non-spectacle take on the end of the world. The focus is on the internal, not the external and it paints an honest look at the results of nuclear war. Although, I did spend most of the movie wondering what happened to New Zealand… Oh, and you get to see Fred Astaire race the Mach 5. I’m not kidding. It even has the 5 on it, same design. Go watch it, you’ll see I’m not BSing you…

Here’s what we have lined up for the next week: Thursday, November 27th: TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH (1949)

Friday, November 28th: GENTLEMAN’S AGREEMENT (1947)

Saturday, November 29th: PANIC IN THE STREETS (1950)

Sunday, November 30th: THE HOT ROCK (1972)

Monday, December 1st: WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (1966)

Tuesday, December 2nd: THE DAY OF THE DOLPHIN (1973)

Wednesday, December 3rd: CARNAL KNOWLEDGE (1971)

Alright, time to hunker down on this Guide. I've spent some 3 weeks researching and compiling and the last two days have spent about 20 hours getting it together... and I'm anticipating being up for another 12-14 hours to finish. Wish me luck! See you folks tomorrow for TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH, following Mr. Gregory Peck! And Happy Early Turkey Day! -Quint

Previous Movies: June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
August 3rd: Can-Can
August 4th: Desperate Characters
August 5th: The Possession of Joel Delaney
August 6th: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
August 7th: Start the Revolution Without Me
August 8th: Hell Is A City
August 9th: The Pied Piper
August 10th: Partners
August 11th: Barry Lyndon
August 12th: The Skull
August 13th: The Hellfire Club
August 14th: Blood of the Vampire
August 15th: Terror of the Tongs
August 16th: Pirates of Blood River
August 17th: The Devil-Ship Pirates
August 18th: Jess Franco’s Count Dracula
August 19th: Dracula A.D. 1972
August 20th: The Stranglers of Bombay
August 21st: Man, Woman & Child
August 22nd: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
August 23rd: The Young Philadelphians
August 24th: The Rack
August 25th: Until They Sail
August 26th: Somebody Up There Likes Me
August 27th: The Set-Up
August 28th: The Devil & Daniel Webster
August 29th: Cat People
August 30th: The Curse of the Cat People
August 31st: The 7th Victim
September 1st: The Ghost Ship
September 2nd: Isle of the Dead
September 3rd: Bedlam
September 4th: Black Sabbath
September 5th: Black Sunday
September 6th: Twitch of the Death Nerve
September 7th: Tragic Ceremony
September 8th: Lisa & The Devil
September 9th: Baron Blood
September 10th: A Shot In The Dark
September 11th: The Pink Panther
September 12th: The Return of the Pink Panther
September 13th: The Pink Panther Strikes Again
September 14th: Revenge of the Pink Panther
September 15th: Trail of the Pink Panther
September 16th: The Real Glory
September 17th: The Winning of Barbara Worth
September 18th: The Cowboy and the Lady
September 19th: Dakota
September 20th: Red River
September 21st: Terminal Station
September 22nd: The Search
September 23rd: Act of Violence
September 24th: Houdini
September 25th: Money From Home
September 26th: Papa’s Delicate Condition
September 27th: Dillinger
September 28th: Battle of the Bulge
September 29th: Daisy Kenyon
September 30th: Laura
October 1st: The Dunwich Horror
October 2nd: Experiment In Terror
October 3rd: The Devil’s Rain
October 4th: Race With The Devil
October 5th: Salo, Or The 120 Days of Sodom
October 6th: Bad Dreams
October 7th: The House Where Evil Dwells
October 8th: Memories of Murder
October 9th: The Hunger
October 10th: I Saw What You Did
October 11th: I Spit On Your Grave
October 12th: Naked You Die
October 13th: The Wraith
October 14th: Silent Night, Bloody Night
October 15th: I Bury The Living
October 16th: The Beast Must Die
October 17th: Hellgate
October 18th: He Knows You’re Alone
October 19th: The Thing From Another World
October 20th: The Fall of the House of Usher
October 21st: Audrey Rose
October 22nd: Who Slew Auntie Roo?
October 23rd: Wait Until Dark
October 24th: Dead & Buried
October 25th: A Bucket of Blood
October 26th: The Bloodstained Shadow
October 27th: I, Madman
October 28th: Return to Horror High
October 29th: Die, Monster, Die
October 30th: Epidemic
October 31st: Student Bodies
November 1st: Black Widow
November 2nd: The Ghost & Mrs. Muir
November 3rd: Flying Tigers
November 4th: Executive Action
November 5th: The Busy Body
November 6th: It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World
November 7th: Libeled Lady
November 8th: Up The River
November 9th: Doctor Bull
November 10th: Judge Priest
November 11th: Ten Little Indians
November 12th: Murder On The Orient Express
November 13th: Daniel
November 14th: El Dorado
November 15th: The Gambler
November 16th: Once Upon A Time In America
November 17th: Salvador
November 18th: Best Seller
November 19th: The Holcroft Covenant
November 20th: Birdman of Alcatraz
November 21st: The Train
November 22nd: Gunfight At The O.K. Corral
November 23rd: Mystery Street
November 24th: Border Incident
November 25th: The Tin Star

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