Tom Gregory's Hollywood Vault radio clips, as featured on Leeza Gibbons' national radio program Hollywood Confidential!
On the Beach
Below is a transcript of the review on the audio file playable above.Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner were on the beach back in 1959 but it wasn’t to escape the heat.
The atomic age burst into our lives in 1945 and changed the world, and Hollywood, forever. Mr. Turtle introduced school children to “Duck and Cover”, giant insects filled the silver screen, and not questioning authority became the worst mistake a citizen could possibly make.
1959’s “On the Beach” is like a note found in a bottle about the realities of a nuclear war. In this film, violence is not a black hat/white hat game; it’s a fatal self-inflicted wound in the face of a humanity that has faced its final meltdown.
The film opens as the USS Sawtooth, a nuclear submarine that luckily had been at sea, heads towards Australia where civilization exists, but an approaching cloud of nuclear fallout dooms it. This film’s apocalyptic vision isn’t violence, explosions, or rapture, but the reality of an empty rustle of trash in the nuclear wind. Peppered with end-of-the-world dialogue like when one woman refers to the nuclear war as a “whatchamacallit”, or when Ava Gardner tells Peck:
“I wouldn't really mind (pretending to be your wife)... if you could forget entirely who I am... I don't like myself very much anyway.
Wait till you see what this film does with a Coca-Cola bottle and a piece of string; it’s a classic scene from Atomic Hollywood.
It is rumored that guards at each end of the Golden Gate Bridge were paid $500 each to stop cars for a minute to get footage of an empty bridge. it’s a chilling shot that’s priceless today.
this film was left to us by the generation that was well aware of the dangers of complacency and greed. “On the Beach”, may not be about happy heroes fixing the world’s woes, but then again where else can you see Fred Astaire as a race car driver, and see streets without summertime traffic? So get off the beach and get “On the Beach”.