A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema

By Charles P. Mitchell | Go to book overview

When Worlds Collide (1951)

Rating: **** Threat: Interplanetary collision

Paramount. Written by Sydney Boehm based on the novels When Worlds Collide & After Worlds Collide by Philip Wylie & Edwin Balmer; Photographed by John F. Seitz, W. Howard Greene & Farciot Eduoart (process photography); Special effects by Gordon Jennings & Harry Barndollar; Edited by Arthur Schmidt; Music by Leith Stevens; Produced by George Pal; Directed by Rudolph Maté. B & W, 83 minutes.


ANNOTATED CAST LIST

Richard Derr (Dave Randall, pilot); Larry Keating (Dr. Cole Hendron, American astronomer); Barbara Rush (Joyce Hendron, his daughter); Peter Hanson (Dr. Anthony Drake, physician and fiancé of Joyce); John Hoyt (Sidney Stanton, crippled millionaire); Frank Cady (Harold Ferris, Stanton's attendant); Hayden Rorke (Dr. Emery Bronson, South African astronomer who discovered the threat); Stephen Chase (Dr. Dean Frye, technology expert); Jim Congdon (Eddie Garson, technician); Judith Ames (Julie Cummings, Eddie's girlfriend); Sandro Giglio (Dr. Ottinger, scientist who mocks the collision theory); Frances Sanford (Alice, Hendron's secretary); Freeman Lusk (Rudolf Marston, philanthropist); Joseph Mell (Glen Spiro, philanthropist); Art Gilmore (Paul, Bronson's assistant); Keith Richards (Stanley, Bronson's assistant); Rudy Lee (Mike, youngster rescued by Dave); John Ridgely (customs inspector); Hassan Khayyam (UN committee president); Ramsay Hill (French UN delegate); James Seay (Donovan, newspaper publisher); Gene Collins (newspaper hawker); Mary Murphy, Kirk Alyn, Robert Chapman, Charmine Harker (spaceship passengers); Paul Frees (narrator).


SYNOPSIS

When Worlds Collide was one of the first apocalyptic films produced by a prominent studio, and although the budget was economical, it was sufficient with George Pal's creative expertise to appear as a major production. Pal had just completed the highly successful Destination: Moon (1950), and When Worlds Collide was intended as a blockbuster successor. While not achieving the same level of success, the film was significant nevertheless and quite influential, becoming the standard against which future celestial disaster films would be measured.

The picture begins with a reference to the Bible about Noah and the flood. At a remote observatory in South Africa, astronomer Emery Bronson makes a frightening discovery. Two heavenly bodies, which he names Bellus and Zyra, will enter our solar system, and their paths will intersect the orbit of Earth, de-

-249-

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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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