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On the Beach

Stanley Kramer's 1959 On The Beach is a powerhouse of a film, one of the most passionate -- yet least "preachy" -- anti-war movies ever made, brimming with humanity and optimism despite the grim plot. Nuclear war has come and gone, obliterating most of the planet and killing billions of innocent people. Only Australia has been spared, but even its time is running out: a lethal cloud of radiation is slowly approaching the continent. It cannot be diverted or avoided, and the few surviving humans know that in a mere five months, they'll be dead too. Despite the morbid tone, producer/director Kramer has injected an amazing degree of warmth and compassion into this tale: of particular note is the stellar performance by Anthony Perkins as a proud new father, doting over his daughter with infinite adoration (quite a switch from the maniac Perkins would play less than a year later in Psycho). Beautiful widescreen transfer, but unfortunately the DVD contains no special features -- not even a trailer. Yet for a gripping storyline and mesmerizing performances, On The Beach is hard to beat. A good renter, and worth the purchase price for fans.
—Joe Barlow

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