THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE (1961) We generally like our Drive-in Movies cheap and stupid around here, which makes The Day The Earth Caught Fire a bit of an anomaly. It’s a beautifully shot and restored wide-screen HD UK offering that depicts the aftermath of a series of nuclear tests that knock the world out of its orbit. Just enough to bring the Earth’s inhabitants to a slow boil. The action takes place on London’s (actual) Fleet Street, the UK’s newspaper hub of the 60s, where the characters are cynical, fast-talking journos intent on working themselves into an early grave – exemplified by once-heralded Peter Stenning, a hard-drinking writer for The Daily Express, who seems popped from a Richard Burton mold. The “sci-fi” here is in short supply, but the film’s briskly paced dialog is, in a word, brilliant… cracking with intelligent banter, smart quips and snappy comebacks – especially when the press boys gather at the local pub to snicker at politicians on the radio (“Alcoholics of the press, unite!”). You’ll recognize Leo McKern, best known to us music types as the ring-stealing cult leader from Help! (who makes a glass eye joke at his own expense… he’s got one, y’know). Listen closely for a young Michael Caine as a roadblocking bobby, not to mention a post-shower breast shot that may have helped earn this classic an early “X” rating. The film’s sepia-toned intro/outro is not a YouTube defect, but a device used to suggest the sun’s deadly heat. It all begins slowly, but the choreographed wordplay will keep you in tow. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: The INCREDIBLE Becomes Real! The IMPOSSIBLE Becomes Fact! The UNBELIEVABLE Becomes True! DIALOG ALERT: “Four months… before there’s a delightful smell in the universe of charcoaled mankind.” Find The Day The Earth Caught Fire at Amazon HERE (not cheap). New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.
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