DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE, THE
In an age awash with rampaging, radiation-generated monsters, few films presented a more intelligent, completely plausible and, despite the onscreen temperatures, more chilling depiction of the possible destructive potential of atomic power than Val Guest's gripping excursion into apocalyptic cinema. When a down-on-his luck journalist (Edward Judd) begins to investigate the reasons behind the world's increasingly severe weather conditions, he uncovers the frightening cause: the Earth has been knocked off its axis by worldwide nuclear testing and the planet's climate zones have been displaced. Cue tropical storms in London. Guest successfully imbues the film with the ring of authenticity through both extensive location shooting and a vivid depiction of life on a national newspaper, aided by a cast of familiar faces giving believable, sure-footed performances, with the lion's share of the accolades going to the electrifyingly brilliant Leo McKern. One of the finest of all British science fiction films. (Note courtesy of BFI.) DIR/SCR/PROD Val Guest; SCR Wolf Mankowitz. UK, 1961, b&w, 98 min. NOT RATED
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