“Made during the height of the Cold War...anyone who watches On the Beach, if they have a beating pulse, will take stock of their own existence. The acting and direction are first rate.”
Set in 1964, in the (then) near future, Melbourne's residents stoically continue to go about their business as radioactive clouds drift south from a nuclear-devastated northern hemisphere. Traumatized by the loss of his wife and children in the United States, Captain Dwight Towers (Gregory Peck) takes temporary refuge in Melbourne with the crew of the nuclear-powered submarine he commands. Naval officer, Peter Holmes (Anthony Perkins) and his wife Mary (Donna Anderson) introduce Dwight to the disheartened but alluring Moira Davidson (Ava Gardner) and scientist Julian Osborn (Fred Astaire, in his first non-musical role), who are each in their own way grappling with their imminent fate.
Shot on location in San Francisco, Melbourne and locations around Port Phillip Bay by Italian cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno - director Stanley Kramer had seen and been impressed with Rotunno's work in Visconti's Le Notti Bianche (White Nights) - On The Beach premiered simultaneously in December 1959 in cities across the globe including London, Paris, Moscow, Rome, Tokyo, Los Angeles and Melbourne.
To celebrate the film’s 60th anniversary, On the Beach screens exclusively at ACMI in a 35mm print courtesy of the National Film and Sound Archive.
The screening on Thursday 7 February will be preceded by an introduction by Dr. Adrian Danks, Associate Dean, Media, School of Media & Communication, RMIT University, and Co-curator of the Melbourne Cinematheque.