It's GRRRREAT! Don't hesitate to get this one!
Steven W. Hill | Chicago, IL United States | 06/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Day the Earth Caught Fire" (1961) is one of my most eagerly awaited DVDs ever - a terrific, thoughtful and all-around superb movie (winner of the 1961 BAFTA for best screenplay) which has only been available on mediocre pan & scan VHS in the past.And now the DVD is out... I AM IN HEAVEN! The picture quality is stunning, no exaggeration, and the original tints have been restored to different segments of the black-and-white film. Anamorphic widescreen at about 2.33:1. The photo section is surprisingly extensive, lots of good publicity stills, although I was surprised to see a bit of nudity in a few of them (parents be cautioned if necessary). The disc contains tv and radio spots, a Val Guest biography, theatrical trailer and a commentary from Val Guest and journalist Ted Newsom (which I haven't had time to sample yet). A nice brief essay is inside the 4-page booklet and there's a reproduction of the movie's one-sheet poster too.Don't hesitate to buy this one, even if you've never seen the movie before. To quote a bit from the back cover:"When the United States and the Soviet Union simultaneously set off nuclear explosions, the London Daily Express begins to report on bizarre weather changes around the world. But when the reporters dig deeper, they discover that the blasts have knocked Earth off its axis and sent it hurtling towards the sun."As sensationalistic as that sounds, the concept is handled very realistically. Edward Judd is outstanding in the lead role, supported nicely by Janet Munro and Leo McKern.This movie is one of the world's overlooked gems. You won't regret buying it!"
I've got the marshmellows...
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 04/02/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1962) has impressive credentials, given that it was co-written and directed by Val Guest, the man who brought to the screen such classic films as The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) and The Abominable Snowman (1957).Peter Stenning (Edward Judd) is a down on his luck newspaper man, struggling with the difficulties of his recent divorce, maintaining a relationship with his young son, and taking up the drink a bit more often than he probably should, all having a negative effect on his once upwardly mobile career and his life in general. To top things off, London begins suffering a heat wave like it's rarely seen before. Not only that, but it seems all around the world strange phenomena has been occurring from flooding, earthquakes, drought, freak snowstorms, typhoons, etc. All coming on the heels of news that within the past week the Soviets and the Americans both detonated atomic devices larger than had ever been seen before.Leo McKern plays Bill Maguire, an associate and close friend at the newspaper where Peter works, and begins to develop a theory about what's going on, but is not able to confirm anything as the government has kept a tight lid on what it knows, handing out canned responses to an ever questioning press and public. Peter, while trying to squeeze some information out of a government office, meets Jeannie Craig (Janet Munro), a worker within the office who sometimes operates the switchboard receiving calls. Peter starts putting the moves on her, but she isn't very responsive...at first. Soon the temperature starts rising, lakes and rivers start drying up, and government enforced water rationing measures are put into effect. Facts about the current condition are sketchy as the government is still not very forthcoming, but Jeannie overhears some startling information she is hesitant to share, but is unable to keep it to herself. She shares it with Peter, after making him promise that it would only be between them, to which quickly releases the information to his newspaper. One may think Peter quite the cad, but given the enormity of the information, he really had no choice. Jeannie finds herself in hot water as she is discovered as the `leak', and Peter finds himself on the outs with Jeannie for the betrayal. What was this startling information? What is the government hiding? What's causing the all the natural catastrophes? It's not too difficult to figure out, but the film does offer a few surprises you may not see coming.Despite the low budget, director Guest does an amazing job creating a world on the verge of an apocalyptic nightmare. The focus on the newspaper and its' staff, working feverishly to uncover facts and report accurately while the world is falling apart around their ears gave a unique view into the genre. The main characters in the film were nicely developed, but not always likeable, adding a realistic sense. Also, the documentarian style used in many of the scenes served nicely to give the viewer more of a sense of dread, as if this was something that could really happen, or was really happening. Shot primarily in black and white, there are a number of scenes at the beginning and the end in color, but use an orangish gel to create a creepy and oppressive effect. The effects are decent, but are used in a complementary effect, taking a back seat to the substantial, intelligent, sparkling and well thought out plot. The wide screen print provided by Anchor Bay Entertainment looks beautiful, and the audio is quite good. The listing of features on this site claims a full screen format is available here, too, but I didn't see it. Special features include a commentary by director Val Guest and journalist Ted Newsom, TV spots, a theatrical trailer, radio spots, a still gallery (with a couple of pretty racy photos of Janet Munro), and a biography of director Val Guest. If you're looking for big bang effects to cover an inconsequential plot, like the more recent films Independence Day (1996) or The Core (2003), then you'll be disappointed here. If you're looking for an effective, thought-provoking science fiction thriller with lots of meat and little filler, then this is a great choice. Cookieman108"
Smart sf drama...
albemuth | 03/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"..that has taken way too long to become available on the market. I originally saw this in a revival theatre some 10 years ago and was literally blown away by the exceptional quality in almost all aspects of the production. It's one of the great sf films of its era, a sadly neglected hammer production that has solid acting, smart and sassy dialogue, and startlingly good special effects. It works not as campy fun (as is the case with most sf movies) but as a solid dramatic effort - rather like the Quatermass films even if it is quite different in approach. All in all, a balanced and exciting mix that entertains you from the beginning to the end, and continues to show it's intelligence in the effective conclusion. First rate."