Saturday, November 28, 2009


As the film opens, we are in London, albeit a dangerously hot and dry London (the black & white film is tinted orange for this scene to add to the heat effect), and sweaty reporter Edward Judd is waiting to find out if the "corrective bombs" have worked. We then flashback a few weeks as Judd’s newspaper reports on the strange weather occurrences around the globe: sunspot problems, record high temperatures, floods, and a mysterious fog sweeping through London (though in Hollywood movies, a mysterious fog in London is par for the course). Janet Munro, a worker at the weather service, leaks information to Judd (with whom she begins an affair) that leads the newspaper to theorize that, because the Americans and the Russians set off atomic test blasts simultaneously, the earth has been knocked off its axis and is speeding toward the sun. The news breaks, panics ensue, and the weather gets weirder with droughts, cyclones, and fires galore. Yes, the earth is in fact rushing toward the sun, and the international powers-that-be decide that setting off another big blast in Siberia (the corrective bombs mentioned in the first scene) may set things to right.

For a relatively low-budget sci-fi disaster film, this is well worth seeing. Shot in widescreen black & white, the movie always looks good, with the shots well framed. The use of special effects is fairly limited, with some stock footage, some theatrical effects, and just plain good acting and make-up (the sweaty people in the opening and closing, for example). Judd (who looks like a cross between Richard Burton and Gene Hackman) makes a nicely low-key hero, and both he and Munro have well-rounded characters to work with. The two have an interesting, almost risqué scene involving near-nudity and the fingering of underthings. The wonderful Leo McKern (the first Number Two in the original Prisoner series, and pictured above with Judd and Munro) does a nice job as Judd's editor. I enjoyed the fact that there is a separate credit for "beatnik music" (written by Monty Norman, the composer of the original James Bond theme) though I don't actually remember hearing any. [DVD]

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