A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema

By Charles P. Mitchell | Go to book overview

The Night the World Exploded (1957)

Rating: *** Threat: Worldwide earthquakes

Columbia. Written by Jack Natteford & Luci Ward; Photographed by Benjamin H. Cline; Special effects by Willard Sheldon; Edited by Paul Borofsky; Musical direction by Ross DiMaggio; Produced by Sam Katzman; Directed by Fred F. Sears. B & W, 64 minutes.


ANNOTATED CAST LIST

Kathryn Grant (Laura Hutchinson, assistant research scientist); William Leslie (Dr. David Conway, inventor of the earthquake predictor); Tristram Coffin (Dr. Ellis Morton, head of seismology lab); Raymond Greenleaf (Cheney, governor of California); Charles Evans (Gen. Bartes, military head of Civil Defense); Marshall Reed (general's aide); John Zaremba (Daniel Winters, assistant secretary of state); Frank Scannell (Quinn, sheriff from Los Cerritos, Nevada); Paul Savage (Kirk, Carlsbad park ranger killed by E-112); Fred Colby (Brown, Carlsbad park ranger); Natividad Vacio (doctor at Carlsbad Hospital); Otto Waldis (Professor Hangstrom, Stanford University mineralogist); Terry Frost (foreman of Carlsbad rescue team); Dennis Moore (military short-wave operator).


SYNOPSIS

This modestly budgeted film brings a fresh and unusual approach to an end-of-the-world story, which has considerable potential that is largely wasted due to the use of scientific gibberish for explanations. Instead of engaging the audience, the script confounds them whenever it attempts to describe what is happening, missing a chance to create a minor gem of a film.

The story begins as Dr. Morton arrives at his seismology laboratory. He learns that his associate, Dr. Conway, has worked all night to complete his invention, the pressure photometer, which can forecast earthquakes. In fact, the machine has already predicted that a major tremor will occur within twenty-four hours. Morton and Conway immediately go to see the governor, who is hesitant about following through on the prediction because their machine has not yet been tested. He does alert the Disaster Council to prepare for the possibility of a disaster. When the scientists return to their lab, their assistant, Laura “Hutch” Hutchinson, offers to spend the night to help monitor the new machine. Hutch mentions to Dr. Morton that she may leave the project soon if she decides to accept the marriage proposal from her boyfriend, Brad. Actually, Hutch has a crush on Dave Conway, but he is so absorbed in his work that he never notices her, Morton implores her to stay on.

The next morning at 5:45 A.M., the earthquake strikes with devastating results. A montage of disaster footage flashes by while a narrator describes the

-152-

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A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Overview: Cinematic Visions of the Apocalypse xi
  • A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema: Fifty Films in Depth 1
  • The 27th Day (1957) 3
  • Armageddon (1998) 10
  • Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) 17
  • Crack in the World (1965) 22
  • The Dawn of the Dead (1978) 27
  • The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) 33
  • The Day the Sky Exploded (1958/61) 40
  • Day the World Ended (1956) 44
  • Deep Impact (1998) 48
  • Deluge (1933) 54
  • Doomsday Machine (1967/72) 59
  • Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) 63
  • The End of the World (1930/34) 70
  • Five (1951) 74
  • Holocaust 2000 (1978) 78
  • The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945) 83
  • Kronos (1957) 88
  • The Last Man on Earth (1964) 93
  • The Last War (1961) 98
  • The Last Wave (1977) 103
  • The Last Woman on Earth (1960) 108
  • Lifeforce (1985) 112
  • The Lost Missile (1958) 117
  • The Magnetic Monster (1953) 122
  • The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936) 127
  • Mars Attacks! (1996) 133
  • Meteor (1979) 139
  • Moonraker (1979) 145
  • The Night the World Exploded (1957) 152
  • Noah's Ark (1929) 157
  • No Blade of Grass (1970) 162
  • No Survivors Please (1964) 168
  • One Night Stand (1984) 172
  • On the Beach (1959) 177
  • Quiet Earth (1985) 184
  • Robot Monster (1953) 189
  • Runestone (1991) 194
  • The Satan Bug (1965) 199
  • The Seventh Sign (1988) 205
  • Solar Crisis (1990) 210
  • Star Trek—the Motion Picture (1978) 214
  • Target Earth (1953) 221
  • Them! (1954) 226
  • Virus (1980) 231
  • Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961) 238
  • The War of the Worlds (1953) 243
  • When Worlds Collide (1951) 249
  • Where Have All the People Gone? (1974) 255
  • The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959) 259
  • Zarkorr the Invader (1996) 265
  • Appendices 269
  • Appendix A 271
  • Appendix B 279
  • Appendix C 283
  • Index 285
  • About the Author 311
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