Stars: Edward Judd, Janet Munro, Leo McKern, Michael Goodliffe, Bernard Braden
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Romance
Runtime: 98 minutes
Despite its melodramatic title, which carried on a '50s doomsday naming convention, this taut 1961 English science fiction thriller offers an object lesson in the power of story over special effects. When both the Soviets and the West detonate nuclear tests simultaneously, the seismic double whammy jolts the earth off its axis and onto a new orbit sending it fatally closer to the sun--a fate that writer-director-producer Val Guest views from the street-level perspective of its principal characters, rather than an off-world vantage point. The street in question, however, is London's Fleet Street, the venerable hub of its newspaper and tabloid publishers, and the hard-nosed reporters growing realization that their number is up carries its own stark punch. Edward Judd is Peter Stenning, a rugged, appropriately grim reporter, Leo McKern is tough but compassionate editor Bill Maguire, and Janet Munro is Stenning's love interest, in an elfin, sexy turn that's a striking contrast to her best-known turn in Disney's Darby O'Gill and the Little People. With an effects arsenal that consists largely of a spray bottle to apply beads of "sweat," Guest and his small but crack cast are surprisingly effective, and the cold war plot hook still works, thanks to its uncomfortable proximity to more contemporary environmental terrors. --Sam Sutherland
I don't care a tinker's damn about this eclipse of the sun as such; the evening papers will cane it, it'll be dead by tomorrow morning. But what I do care about is why there was an eclipse of the sun ten days before it was due. Bill, this is your department.
I don't know why everybody regards me as Nostradamus. Your guess is as good as mine.
Yes, but I don't want guesses, I want facts. Try someone on top. Sir John Kelly....
Stenning got in to see Kelly.
He had twenty-eight armed guards around him.
Yes, but what did he say?
He wouldn't even say "Good night" in case it was taken as an official comment on the future of mankind.
It's the kid, isn't it?
You ought to see the way they're bringing him up, Bill. It'll be the right prep school next. And then the right boarding school. And by the time they finish with him, he'll be a right bowler-hatted, who's-for-tennis, toffee-nosed gent, but he won't be MY son.
Oh, I don't know. That bad blood of yours is bound to come out.
Sir John Kelly:
When one considers the Moon is 240,000 miles away and the Sun ninety-three million, it is an extraordinary thing that astronomers can tell with such a degree of accuracy what their movements will be many years ahead.
Now, what does that mean?
It means he doesn't know what it's all about.
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