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The Day The Earth Caught Fire


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Product Details

  • Actors: Janet Munro, Leo McKern, Edward Judd
  • Directors: Val Guest
  • Writers: Val Guest, Wolf Mankowitz
  • Producers: Val Guest
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • DVD Release Date: March 8, 2012
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000059PPL
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,549 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Day The Earth Caught Fire" on IMDb

Special Features

  • TV spots
  • Radio spots
  • Still gallery
  • Val Guest Bio

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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. Now, as scorching heat and devastating floods plague the planet, cities explode in chaos and mankind is left with one last hope: A final massive detonation that will either re-balance Earth's orbit or destroy our world forever. Produced, directed and co-written by Val Guest (THE QUARTERMASS XPERIMENT), this British classic is legendary for its brilliant dialogue, chilling realism and one of the most provocative endings in sci-fi history. THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE has now been completely remastered from original vault materials, including the restoration of its stunning tinted sequences not seen since the movie's original theatrical release 50 years ago,

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Amazon.com

Despite its melodramatic title, which carried on a '50s doomsday naming convention, this taut 1961 English science fiction thriller offers an object lesson in the power of story over special effects. When both the Soviets and the West detonate nuclear tests simultaneously, the seismic double whammy jolts the earth off its axis and onto a new orbit sending it fatally closer to the sun--a fate that writer-director-producer Val Guest views from the street-level perspective of its principal characters, rather than an off-world vantage point. The street in question, however, is London's Fleet Street, the venerable hub of its newspaper and tabloid publishers, and the hard-nosed reporters growing realization that their number is up carries its own stark punch. Edward Judd is Peter Stenning, a rugged, appropriately grim reporter, Leo McKern is tough but compassionate editor Bill Maguire, and Janet Munro is Stenning's love interest, in an elfin, sexy turn that's a striking contrast to her best-known turn in Disney's Darby O'Gill and the Little People. With an effects arsenal that consists largely of a spray bottle to apply beads of "sweat," Guest and his small but crack cast are surprisingly effective, and the cold war plot hook still works, thanks to its uncomfortable proximity to more contemporary environmental terrors. --Sam Sutherland

Customer Reviews

Probably one of the 25 all-time best SF films.
Marc Russell
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.
albemuth
And it is the exploration of those effects on the psyche of what seem like real people that makes the film so special.
Christopher C Jackson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Steven W. Hill on June 9, 2001
Format: DVD
"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!
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By cookieman108 on April 2, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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.
Read more ›
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By albemuth on March 9, 2001
Format: DVD
..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.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jan Strnad on November 29, 2001
Format: DVD
This is one of my all-time favorite films, available at long last in widescreen format on DVD! Intelligent and classy, The Day the Earth Caught Fire isn't my usual so-bad-it's-good fare, but a movie you'll actually enjoy watching.
Reporter Edward Judd uncovers a nefarious cover-up on the part of the government: the Earth's been knocked out of orbit by atom bombs, but the powers that be want to keep the lid on the news to avoid mass panic...which of course happens anyway. Janet Munro sets the screen on fire as the sexy temp who spills the beans to Judd, doing her first nude scene after leaving Disney. Leo (Rumpole) McKern as Judd's fellow reporter is his excellent, lovably irascible self. Some very effective special effects
The DVD includes commentary by producer/director/co-writer Val Guest, and features tinted opening and closing scenes as shown in some theaters.
Very highly recommended.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Maier on April 21, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
The first time I saw this film was in the early Sixties on television and it left quite an impression on me. Every once in a while a film comes along that hits all of the correct notes. The primary reason this film is special is because it relies on story for it's power instead of on special effects. Genre is unimportant to whether a movie is true quality. Writing is always the most important issue followed closely by directing and acting. This movie has all three elements. Because of this it hooks you and keeps you hooked. I like many sci-fi flicks but this could quite possibly be the best.
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