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The Day the Earth Caught Fire

The Day the Earth Caught Fire(1962)

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  • Is this a Comedy Romance?

    • Mongo
    • 4/17/12

    Preposterous to suggest that this cautionary eshcatological parable is a vessel for that most inane of cinema sub-genres, but the unfolding disasters so closely mirror the love interests of washed up ace reporter Peter Stenning (supposedly modeled after Richard Burton's masterful nihilistic self pitying Jimmy Porter, but not as harsh), played to the hilt by Edward Judd, and spunky, confident Jeanne Craig (the criminally under rated, under utilized Janet Munro) that one must consider the metaphorical confluence. I posess a self admitted weakness for those scandalously cheesy mid- century monster movies, deriving genuine perverse amusement value from their clotted cheapness and bankruptcy of culturally redeeming features. So when this come-on title popped up on a search describing said entertainment, I streamed it ASAP. But something strange, even alien, occoured to me as this film unspooled. I found myself being drawn in, not initially in totality, but in the gradual yet certian steps the director and script writer intended. Both duties were handled by the great Val Guest, a ontime Fleet Street journalist turned comic gag writer who eventually would produce Quartermass Experiment (1957), one of the finest examples of burgeoning British sci-fi cinema. Guest designed this unsung masterwork as a documentary drama, using the onus of the newsroom, weather bereau, and the commoner or the street to respond to deteriorating conditions and peice together the whole awlful truth through a haze of factoids and intentional obfuscation of the facts by authorities. Yes, this film was produced on the cheap, but the budget was put to effective use. Special effects are limited to some model tipping, a fog machine, and sepia tint for the scenes that bookend the film. Les Bowie's famous matte paintings are highly effective as conveying a bleak, grim, desolate world that is rapidly becoming uninhabitable. Guest also made brilliant use of topical footage.

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