On the Beach (1959 film)

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On the Beach is a 1959 American black-and-white post-apocalyptic science fiction drama film from United Artists, produced and directed by Stanley Kramer. The film is based on Nevil Shute's 1957 novel of the same name depicting a nuclear war and its aftermath.


Dwight Towers: Well... how'd you recognise me?
Moria Davidson: I love Americans. They're so naïve.

Moria Davidson: I wouldn't really mind... if you could forget entirely who I am... I don't like myself very much anyway.
Moria Davidson: There isn't time. No time to love... nothing to remember... nothing worth remembering.
Peter Holmes: You remember when we first met? It was on the beach. I thought you were everything I'd always wanted.
Mary Holmes: I thought you were underfed.
Mary Holmes: It's all over now isn't it?
Peter Holmes: Yes. It's all over.
Julian Osborne: The war started when people accepted the idiotic principle that peace could be maintained by arranging to defend themselves with weapons they couldn't possibly use without committing suicide.
Julian Osborne: We're all doomed, you know. The whole, silly, drunken, pathetic lot of us. Doomed by the air we're about to breathe.
(first lines)
Dwight Towers: Prepare to surface.

The USS Sunfish has arrived in San Francisco. Looking through the periscope, the crew is horrified to see the once-thriving metropolis has become a ghost town. One sailor takes it hard as that is his native city, and resorts to drastic action; jumping ship
Captain Towers{on loudspeaker}: Swain! Get back here, do not be a damn fool! Return to ship now and we will gladly take you back aboard.
Petty Officer Swain: I have a date on Market Street, Captain! I am going home.

Hunter's Point. Swain is spotted fishing off a motorboat. Submarine surfaces
Captain Towers{on loudspeaker}: Good afternoon, Swain.
Petty Officer Swain: Good afternoon, Captain.
Captain Towers{on loudspeaker}: Catch anything?
Petty Officer Swain: No, the fish are not biting today. I think the radiation may have killed most of them as well.
Captain Towers{on loudspeaker}: Can you give us an intelligence report?
Petty Officer Swain: I went to my childhood home, but all my family were dead. I also looked at the houses of a few friends of mine, no luck either. After that I gave up looking for survivors. Captain, I meant no disrespect to yourself or the crew by jumping ship, but I am sure you can understand my desire to die here in San Francisco, the city where I was born and raised.
Captain Towers{on loudspeaker}: Understood Swain, you are forgiven. Have you eaten or drank anything?
Petty Officer Swain: I was feeling a bit queasy so I took some sodium bicaronate from a nearby pharmacy. That seems to have stablizied my system.
Captain Towers{on loudspeaker}: Good to know you are handling it. My men have traced the signal to San Diego, so we are heading there. If you want to come aboard with us, you are welcome.
Petty Officer Swain: Thank you, sir, but I prefer to take my discharge.
Captain Towers{on loudspeaker}: As you wish. We will not come back this way. God be with you.
Petty Officer Swain: Ahoy and may God bless you as well.
Captain Towers{on loudspeaker}: Are you positive you can survive here?
Petty Officer Swain: Captain, I have my choice of 200 apothecaries that are immediately available to offer anything I need ot want!

San Diego. The intelligence officer of the Sunfish, Lieutenant Sanderson, is suited up in a HAZMAT outfit in order to go ashore to find the mysterious signal
Captain Towers: Lieutenant, these are your orders. My men have estimated that under your protective gear you have one hour to explore. At the end of the hour you are to board ship again, come through this tube where they will hose down your suit, then immediately get out of that and into the showers. When you are back here I want it that you are not wearing anything so we can be sure you are properly decomaminated before getting back in uniform and giving us your intelligence report. While ashore, we will give you a reminder every fifteen minutes by blasting the horn. When you are hear the third horn, run back to ship pronto, no matter what. I do not care if you find a tribe of beautiful girls wanting to make it with you, get back here!
Lieutenant Sanderson: Aye aye, Captain.
LT Sanderson swims ashore, then comes to the dock. No one is sighted anywhere. However he sees a snack bar with electric power online
Neon sign: HOT LUNCHES
Investigating why there are no people but buildings that have power, he goes to a nearby nuclear power plant where he finds that it can run for years without anyone taking care of it. He hears the first blast from the submarine. Moving further, he comes to a civil defense shelter where he hears the erratic Morse code. He then hears the second blast from the submarine. Finally, LT Sanderson sees what has been sending it out, a half-full bottle of Coca-Coca got caught on the windowshade and the telegraph. In a mixture of horror and humor, LT Sanderson unties the soda bottle from the windowshade
USS Sunfish. Sailors suddenly hear new Morse code akin to musical notes
Seaman: What is that?
Captain Towers{chuckling}: I think LT Sanderson solved the mystery for us.
LT Sanderson hears third blast. But before he gets back to ship, he goes to the nuclear power plant and deactivates the mainframe. This causes the neon sign at the snack bar to turn off
(Last lines)
Mary Holmes: God... God, forgive us. Peter, I think I'll have that cup of tea now.

Julian Osborne': Who would ever have believed that human beings would be stupid enough to blow themselves off the face of the Earth?

Morgan:They pushed us too far! They didn't think we'd fight, no matter what they did!
Julian Osborne: And they were wrong. We fought. We expunged them. And we didn't do such a bad job on ourselves.

Julian Osborne: There was a choice. It was build the bombs, and use them - or risk the United States, the Soviet Union, and the rest of us, would find some way... to go on living
Morgan: [scoffs] That's wishful thinking if ever I heard it.
Julian Osborne: [softly] I'm not against wishful thinking. Not now.

Julian Osborne: I shouldn't drink, you know. I inevitably say something brilliant.


  • Gregory Peck - Commander Dwight Lionel Towers, USS Sawfish
  • Ava Gardner - Moira Davidson, Towers' Australian love interest
  • Fred Astaire - Julian Osborn, Australian scientist
  • Anthony Perkins - Lieutenant Commander Peter Holmes, Royal Australian Navy
  • Donna Anderson - Mary Holmes, Peter's wife
  • John Tate as Admiral Bridie, Royal Australian Navy
  • Harp McGuire - Lieutenant Sunderstrom (ashore in San Diego)
  • Lola Brooks - Lieutenant Hosgood, Bridie's secretary
  • Ken Wayne - Lieutenant Benson
  • Guy Doleman - Lieutenant Commander Farrel
  • Richard Meikle - Davis
  • John Meillon - Sawfish crewman Ralph Swain (ashore in San Francisco)
  • Joe McCormick - Ackerman, radiation sickness victim
  • Lou Vernon - Bill Davidson, Moira's father
  • Kevin Brennan - Dr. King, radiation diagnosis doctor
  • Keith Eden as Dr. Fletcher (beach scene)
  • Basil Buller-Murphy - Sir Douglas Froude
  • Brian James - Royal Australian Navy officer
  • John Casson - Salvation Army captain
  • Paddy Moran - Stevens (club wine steward)
  • Grant Taylor - Morgan (Holmes party)
  • George Fairfax - (Holmes party guest)
  • Earl Francis - (Holmes party guest)

External links[edit]

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