“...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 residents go about their business as radioactive clouds drift south from a nuclear-devastated northern hemisphere. Traumatised by the loss of his wife and children in the United States, submarine Captain Dwight Towers (Gregory Peck) takes refuge in Melbourne with his crew. A young 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 both grappling with their imminent fate.
Shot on location in San Francisco, Melbourne and around Port Phillip Bay by Italian cinematographer and frequent Visconti collaborator, Giuseppe Rotunno (Rocco and his brothers, The Leopard), Stanley Kramer’s Oscar-nominated film premiered simultaneously in cities worldwide including London, Paris, Moscow, Tokyo and Melbourne in 1959 to demonstrate the global reach of the film's themes.
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.