7.1/10
4,214
72 user 68 critic

The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)

Unrated | | Drama, Sci-Fi, Romance | May 1962 (USA)
When the U.S. and Russia unwittingly test atomic bombs at the same time, it alters the nutation (axis of rotation) of the Earth.

Director:

Val Guest

Writers:

Wolf Mankowitz (written for the screen by), Val Guest (written for the screen by)
Reviews
Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A dying scientist pushes forward his project to tap through to the Earth's magma layer, with results that threaten to destroy the Earth as we know it.

Director: Andrew Marton
Stars: Dana Andrews, Janette Scott, Kieron Moore
Action | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

As a new star and planet hurtle toward a doomed Earth, a small group of survivalists frantically work to complete the rocket which will take them to their new home.

Director: Rudolph Maté
Stars: Richard Derr, Barbara Rush, Peter Hansen
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

After an unusual meteor shower leaves most of the human population blind, a merchant navy officer must find a way to conquer tall, aggressive plants which are feeding on people and animals.

Directors: Steve Sekely, Freddie Francis
Stars: Howard Keel, Nicole Maurey, Janette Scott
Adventure | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

When a spaceship lands on the moon, it is hailed as a new accomplishment, before it becomes clear that a Victorian party completed the journey in 1899, leading investigators to that mission's last survivor.

Director: Nathan Juran
Stars: Edward Judd, Martha Hyer, Lionel Jeffries
Jet Storm (1959)
Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Sir Richard Attenborough plays Ernest Tilley, a man who lost his daughter in a hit-and-run accident. He tracks down the man responsible for the accident and boards the same plane, ... See full summary »

Director: Cy Endfield
Stars: Richard Attenborough, Stanley Baker, Hermione Baddeley
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

During the Cold War, a RN warrant officer stationed in the British Embassy in Warsaw leaks secrets to his Polish girlfriend who's a Soviet agent and after his transfer to a naval station in Britain he joins a Soviet spy ring.

Director: Robert Tronson
Stars: Bernard Lee, William Sylvester, Margaret Tyzack
Adventure | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Stranded on Mars with only a monkey as a companion, an astronaut must figure out how to find oxygen, water, and food on the lifeless planet.

Director: Byron Haskin
Stars: Paul Mantee, Victor Lundin, Adam West
Quatermass 2 (1957)
Sci-Fi | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Professor Quatermass, trying to gather support for his Lunar colonisation project, is intrigued by mysterious traces that have been showing up.

Director: Val Guest
Stars: Brian Donlevy, John Longden, Sidney James
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

An isolated remote island community is threatened by an attack by tentacled silicates which liquefy and digest bone and tissue.

Director: Terence Fisher
Stars: Peter Cushing, Edward Judd, Carole Gray
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

In Britain, a Manchester police inspector becomes obsessed with capturing a criminal who escapes from prison.

Director: Val Guest
Stars: Stanley Baker, John Crawford, Donald Pleasence
Horror | Mystery | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A mysterious artifact is unearthed in London, and famous scientist Bernard Quatermass is called into to divine its origins and explain its strange effects on people.

Director: Roy Ward Baker
Stars: James Donald, Andrew Keir, Barbara Shelley
Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

The European Space Exploration Council sends two astronauts to explore a planet similar to the Earth but located on the opposite side of the sun.

Director: Robert Parrish
Stars: Roy Thinnes, Ian Hendry, Patrick Wymark
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
Janet Munro ... Jeannie Craig
Leo McKern ... Bill Maguire
Edward Judd ... Peter Stenning
Michael Goodliffe ... 'Jacko' Jackson - Night Editor
Bernard Braden Bernard Braden ... 'Dave' Davis - News Editor
Reginald Beckwith Reginald Beckwith ... Harry
Gene Anderson Gene Anderson ... May
Renée Asherson ... Angela
Arthur Christiansen Arthur Christiansen ... 'Jeff' Jefferson - Editor
Edit

Storyline

Hysterical panic has engulfed the world after the United States and the Soviet Union simultaneously detonate nuclear devices causing a change to the nutation (axis of rotation) of the Earth. Written by Fernando <diamond@argenet.com.ar>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

THE PICTURE THAT GIVES YOU A FRONT SEAT TO THE MOST JOLTING EVENTS OF TOMORROW...TODAY! (original U.S. print ad - all caps) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Sci-Fi | Romance

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

May 1962 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Day the Earth Caught Fire See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

GBP200,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Pax Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Black and White (with tinted sequences)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

At the start of the film Stenning gives his story to a copy boy played by an uncredited Peter Blythe. 20 years later Blythe and Leo Mckern (Bill Maguire) would star opposite each other in Rumpole Of The Bailey as head of chambers Sam Ballard and Rumpole, respectively. See more »

Goofs

We see a copy of the "New York Daily Record" - but a later edition of the "Daily Mail" is dated to June. (The Express detailing water rationing plans is dated Friday July 27th 1962.) See more »

Quotes

Peter Stenning: Hello, Pat.
Pat Holroyd: Well.
Peter Stenning: It's a bit better than Picture Post, isn't it?
Pat Holroyd: Stenning, what the hell do you want?
Peter Stenning: A quote on sun-spots.
Pat Holroyd: Sun-spots?
Peter Stenning: Look, just tell me that the static, the monsoon, the compass trouble, and the terrible shows we get on television are all caused by sun-spots, and that the sun-spots are caused by bigger bomb experiments, and I'll leave you in peace.
Pat Holroyd: Well, there usually is a bit of extra sun-spot activity this time of year, old boy, but I don't think it has much to do with ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

There are no end credits whatsoever (not even a "The End" caption); merely a fade to black. See more »

Alternate Versions

Although listed as cut by the BBFC, the then censor John Trevelyan passed the film uncut according to his memoirs. The 'X' certificate was given due to the subject matter, and occasional tough language, being unsuitable for anyone under the age of 16. Video and DVD releases are now rated PG. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Matinee (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Light Cavalry Overture
(uncredited)
Written by Franz von Suppé
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Timeless, compelling sci-fi drama
28 January 2006 | by refrankfurtSee all my reviews

After more than forty years, this film is still a milestone in the science fiction genre. In its day, it was years ahead of its time. It had characters that acted like real people, instead of like John Agar and Lori Nelson. It contained a clearly implied sexual relationship between the two main characters, in an era when filmmakers were still routinely depicting even married couples as sleeping in separate beds. It was filled with shocking insinuations that the government is not all-wise and benevolent, that science doesn't really have all the answers, that the military is capable of blunders that put new meaning into the phrase "friendly fire," and that all may not be well, after all.

The film's greatest strength is in its understated, matter-of-fact presentation of the characters' various reactions to the relentlessly deteriorating situation. The performances are consistently honest and compelling, from the principal players down to the smallest walk-on parts. The award-winning script by Wolf Mankowitz is at times almost too clever for its own good. If there is one criticism that may be leveled against it, it is that most real people are not that consistently witty. Occasionally they are at a loss for words. Occasionally they say things that are lame, stupid, and altogether inappropriate. And this is the one element that was pretty much absent from the dialogue.

In an age when movies are being strangled to death by their own special effects, and character development often does not extend beyond the crudest bodily functions and four-letter expletives, it is genuinely refreshing to return to a film such as this one. Not only does it not rely on visual effects to tell its story, it is really so little dependent on the visual that it could have been equally successful as a radio drama (a forgotten art form nowadays), and might very well have caused an even greater panic than Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds."


15 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 72 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed