Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer debuts on streaming platforms this week and it made me think of films with a nuclear theme. Everyone knows Dr Strangelove (if not, seek it out immediately), but what else is worth a look? Here is another little list I carry in my head:
Fail-Safe (1964). How the US responds after an accidental missile launch. It was remade in 2000 as a live TV drama utilising two WB sound stages.
Threads (1984). The devastating BBC drama that horrified a nation.
The Day After (1983). The American equivalent is a superb TVM that won two Emmys and looks at the aftermath of a nuclear strike on Eastern Kansas.
On the Beach (1959). An excellent adaptation of Nevil Shute’s novel that was also remade in 2000.
By Dawn’s Early Light (1990). Powers Boothe stars in another very good TVM. How do you stop a nuclear bomber, on its way to Moscow, after it has passed the point of no return?
Panic in Year Zero! (1962). Ray Milland directs and stars in this low-budget drama that follows a family trying to survive what follows. The sound is iffy, but it helps the atmosphere.
Above and Beyond (1952). Robert Taylor stars as Paul Tibbets. He was never nominated for an Oscar, but many felt he should have been for his work here. Remade as Enola Gay in 1980.
The War Game (1965). Commissioned by the BBC, Peter Watkins’ drama was so powerful, the Beeb couldn’t transmit it. It then won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature!
When the Wind Blows (1986). This animated feature, with voice work by Peggy Ashcroft and John Mills, was one of our early successes.
No Blade of Grass (1970). Directed by Cornel Wilde, this is an eco-drama rather than a nuclear one. It makes a very interesting addition to the list, however.
RIDERS OF JUSTICE (2020) Wednesday 22 November 9.00-11.20pm Film Four P
Tonight’s schedule has the Freeview premiere of one of last season’s selections, if you were unable to attend that evening. Mads Mikkelsen is excellent as the soldier who thinks a biker gang is responsible for his wife’s death. The Radio Times calls it a “nuanced delight” and it offers a very clever spin on the nature (and worthiness) of violence and revenge.
FINAL CUT (2022) Thursday 23 November 10.05-11.55pm BBC 4 P
The credentials of Final Cut are most interesting. It is directed by Michel (The Artist) Hazanavicius and is a French remake of a Japanese cult classic. Problems occur when real zombies invade the set of a low-budget zombie movie. Well, it makes me happy!
PETITE MAMAN (2021) Friday 24 November 12.55-2.20am Film Four P
Despite its short running time, Petite Maman is too profound to be considered slight and it saddens me still that we didn’t programme it. An 8-year-old girl makes friends with another young girl she meets in the woods, and who might well be her mother’s younger self. It has already placed =225 in the Sight & Sound Greatest Film poll and sits alongside The Crowd, Star Wars, Intolerance and the 1927 Napoleon! Such a shame that it is on during the night.
By David Johnson
Chairman of Lyme Regis Film Society
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