On the Beach

Stanley Kramer, USA 1959, 134’
Roman Holiday To Kill a Mockingbird

Sixty years ago, in the midst of the Cold War and several years before the outbreak of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Stanley Kramer made a film about the consequences of a global nuclear war adapted from the best-selling novel on the same name by Nevil Shute. In his approach of the topic, Kramer decided against the use of action film elements and special effects. Instead, he concentrated on people—namely the characters of the film, who helplessly await the inexorable onset of a lethal cloud of atomic dust—and their emotions. Moreover, he does not show us any physical trace of social destruction or casualties; the only distressing and devastating visual testament of the catastrophe are the emptied, silent streets of Melbourne and San Francisco. In tackling such a controversial and politically delicate topic, the film needed some kind of a bargaining chip in order to receive a proper distribution. To the rescue came the stellar cast, with a great performance by Gregory Peck as a submarine commander, alongside Ava Gardner, Anthony Perkins, and Fred Astaire as a nuclear scientist, in his first non-musical role. On the beach has been six decades since its premier, it remains a relevant and intensely moving film.

Iga Harasimowicz


Golden Globes, USA 1960 - Best Original Score; BAFTA Awards 1960 - UN Award

Stanley Kramer

(1913 - 2001) An American film director and independent producer, renowned for tackling difficult social issues such as racism, nuclear war, greed, and fascism – topics avoided by most film studios, at the time. Kramer made his directorial debut in 1955 with the film Not as a Stranger. In the 50s, he co-produced some of the most important pictures in the history of cinema, including The Caine Mutiny by Edward Dmytryk, High Noon by Fred Zinnemann, and A Child is Waiting by John Cassavetes. Kramer was nominated for 80 Oscars and won 16 in total as a director or producer.

Selected filmography

1955 Za wszelką cenę / Not as a Stranger

1959 Ostatni brzeg / On the Beach

1960 Kto sieje wiatr / Inherit the Wind

1971 Szkoła kowbojów / Bless the Beasts & Children

1979 Ludzka słabość / The Runner Stumbles

Cast & Crew

director Stanley Kramer
screenplay John Paxton (based on a novel by Nevil Shute)
cinematography Giuseppe Rotunno
editing Frederic Knudston
music Ernest Gold
cast Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire, Anthony Perkins, Donna Anderson
producer Stanley Kramer
production Stanley Kramer Productions
sales Park Circus
language English
coloration b&w
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