powered by AFI
DVDs from TCM Shop
In the onscreen credits, the film's title is flashed word by word over shots of a raging fire. The following quotation from the Bible, Genesis, Chapter 6, Verse 12 and 13 appears before the film's first scene: "And God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth..." The final scene concludes with the written statement, "The first day on the new world had begun..." Voice-over narration is heard during the film's opening scenes.
Contemporary sources provide the following information about the production: Paramount purchased Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer's novel in 1933, intending it as a vehicle for Cecil B. De Mille. That project, titled End of the World, was never made, and the story was shelved until October 1949, when producer-director George Pal, who was known for his puppet-cartoon series "the Puppetoons," bought it from Paramount. Irving Pichel, who was preparing to direct Pal's 1950 science fiction release Destination Moon (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50), was announced as the film's probable director at that time. After Pal signed a producing contract with Paramount, he resold the novel to the studio, and according to modern sources, Paramount agreed to finance the film. In May 1950, Hollywood Reporter reported that John Archer had been signed to play a "top role" in the revived project.
Modern sources add the following information about the film: Pal hired Jack Moffitt to write the first draft of the screenplay, which Pal then rewrote. Moffitt's draft was submitted along with a complete cast list, which included such actors as Ronald Colman, Susan Hayward and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Paramount replaced Moffitt with Sydney Boehm, who had worked with director Rudolph Mat on the 1950 Paramount release Union Station (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50). Boehm's script cost the studio less than one million dollars to make.
Stuart Whitman, who is listed in the CBCS as Kip Whitman, made his screen debut in When Worlds Collide. The following actors were announced as cast members in Hollywood Reporter news items: Eddie Morse, Ned Glass, James Rosenberger, Hal Rand, Billy Bailey and George Curtiz. Ned Glass was not in the viewed print, but the appearance of the other actors has not been confirmed. Technical advisor Chesley Bonestell was a well-known astronomer and scientific artist, who had worked with Pal on Destination Moon. Modern sources note that Paramount, hoping to capitalize on the success of Destination Moon, rushed When Worlds Collide into production, forcing Pal to use Bonestell's painting of "Zyra's" landscape as a matte, instead of as a guide for miniatures, as he had originally intended. Publicity materials, contained in copyright files, state that the U.N.'s representative in Hollywood, M. Skot-Hansen, assisted the filmmakers on the U.N. sequence. Publicity materials also note that the exterior launching scenes were filmed in Calabasas, CA. According to a ParNews item, the spaceship set was approximately one hundred feet long and thirty feet wide. ParNews also claimed that the film's sound crew received permission from the U.S. Army and the FBI to record jet testing sounds at the Lockheed aircraft factory in Los Angeles, but for security reasons, were not allowed to observe what they were recording.
The film, which won an Oscar for Best Special Effects, includes stock footage of natural disasters. In March 1952, Hollywood Reporter announced that Paramount had purchased the rights to Wylie and Balmer's sequel to When Worlds Collide, a serial story titled After Worlds Collide, which also was published in Blue Book Magazine, for a possible screen sequel. The film sequel was never made, however. The serial stories were published together in book form in 1950, under the title When Worlds Collide and After Worlds Collide.