6.7/10
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72 user 43 critic

Panic in Year Zero (1962)

Approved | | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi | 5 July 1962 (USA)
A family leaves L.A. for a camping trip - just before a nuclear bomb destroys the city. As the city descends into chaos, the father must fight to keep his family alive.

Director:

Ray Milland

Writers:

Jay Simms (screenplay), John Morton (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview:
Ray Milland ... Harry Baldwin
Jean Hagen ... Ann Baldwin
Frankie Avalon ... Rick Baldwin
Mary Mitchel ... Karen Baldwin
Joan Freeman ... Marilyn Hayes
Richard Garland ... Ed Johnson - Hardware Store Owner
Richard Bakalyan ... Carl
Rex Holman ... Mickey
Neil Burstyn Neil Burstyn ... Andy (as Neil Nephew)
Willis Bouchey ... Dr. Powell Strong
O.Z. Whitehead ... Hogan - Grocery Store Owner
Russ Bender ... Harkness
Byron Morrow ... Evacuee from Newhall
Hugh Sanders ... Becker
Shary Marshall Shary Marshall ... Bobbie Johnson
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Storyline

While on a fishing trip, Harry Baldwin (Ray Milland) and his family hear an immense explosion and realise the awful truth; Los Angeles has been leveled by a nuclear attack. Mayhem and madness are everywhere. Escaping to the hills with his family, he sets about the business of surviving in a world where, he knows, the old ideals of humanity will be its first casualties. Not one to give up, Harry doors things to make sure his family has a chance at surviving. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

When Science Fiction Becomes Fact! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 July 1962 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The End of the World See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$225,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film inspired the Steely Dan song 'King of the World' on their second album 'Countdown to Ecstacy.' Donald Fagen of the band referred to this in an interview. See more »

Goofs

In the scene where the bridge is pulled down, to the left you can see bushes and the bridge pilings being pulled quickly in the opposite direction. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Ann Baldwin: Thanks for the help.
Harry Baldwin: Oh, I'm sorry, Ann... Sorry.
See more »

Connections

Featured in TJ and the All Night Theatre: Panic in Year Zero (1977) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Surprisingly good
11 November 2001 | by JennyPSee all my reviews

One's expectations for an early-60s B movie from American International Pictures are never very high. But this movie was a surprisingly well thought out & thought-provoking story.

Just as a family has left LA for a vacation in the woods, the US suffers a massive nuclear attack on all its major cities from, uh, an unnamed enemy. (Wink wink...) But you won't find any marauding mutants here. In fact this film isn't about nuclear war per se. It really wants to explore the nature of civilized society. The father, well portrayed by Ray Milland, is grimly determined to protect his family at all costs for as long as it takes for order & civil authority to be restored, which he's sure will be a long time coming.

The father is a good man, but a little paranoid & controlling. This probably wouldn't be noticeable in normal times, but now they're in a panicked rush to escape the LA metro area & gather enough supplies to last for months in the wilderness - ahead of all the other people who are starting to clog up the freeways & empty out the grocery stores along the escape route. The contradiction between following the rules & protecting your loved ones in desperate times is very effectively illustrated as he makes some reckless decisions along the way.

Normally for a low budget 60's film like this, I wouldn't even bother thinking about how it could've been improved. But since it's so good at presenting a major moral dilemma in a realistic way, think of these nits as a sign of respect: Milland's character could use a little more introspection, but of course so could a lot of early 60's dads! (Not that Milland's performance was wooden - it was great. But his character had a very constricted personality.) His wife could use a little more assertiveness. She actually realizes this, and explains that she's still in shock over the attack - but after Sept. 11 a lot of us understand that after a good catharsis we can deal with a lot of trauma that initially would immobilize us. After having a good cry, she could've acted as a better conscience for some of the father's more paranoid acts. Also the daughter's character needed some fleshing out.

But of course this is an early 60's film, and clearly made on a low budget. And given its time & budget it is an amazing gem of a film. Definitely one to seek out!


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