MovieChat Forums > The Day the Earth Caught FireĀ (1961) Discussion > One of the great finishses to a movie

One of the great finishses to a movie


I'll always remember the first time I saw the movie. You see the first newspaper headline and think the world's been saved. Then the camera pans back and you realise the papers has written two different editions in advance and will only use one.

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Yes it's a cracking (or should that be crackling?) ending to the film. I like how they leave the ending up to the viewers imagination. A very thought provoking film, a classic.

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God Hates Fangs!

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I personally choose that the Earth was saved and everything was alright and mankind actually decided that using nuclear weapons wasn't such a good idea after all :D Not only is it a good film, it even has a personality test at the end :D

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Having not seen the film since the 70's, is this the movie that ends with the lead character walking off down a deserted street in search of water for himself and his companions? Also the scene where he comes home and finds the rioting "hippies" I found very disconcerting as a kid. It made me think about how fragile society is.

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"It made me think about how fragile society is. "

Extremely fragile. I've just heard a horror story today about the financial situation.

It's closer by than we think. Just pray it doesn't happen.

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It's not "sci-fi", it's SF!

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why not, it saved them after all. (forget that it caused it, humans aren rational or are known for good memory)

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All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for enough good men to do nothing.

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I think there is a strong hint that the earth has been saved in that all the church bells start to ring. And, they ring un-muffled. For solemn occasions church bells in Britain are rung with muffles on the clappers which produces a spooky, melancholic effect. The fact that they were being rung un-muffled indicates that they were being rung to express joy at good news.

This kind of device was actually a bit of a cliche by then. The War of the Worlds used it in 1953; and I don't think it was the only one to do it, so it perhaps comes as no surprise to hear that the bells were added by the American distributor who thought the ending was too downbeat. I am not absolutely certain about this, and the bells are definitely British bells, rung in the ancient, British method known as 'Change Ringing' but that only proves that the American distributors did their homework. Again, I cannot be certain but I believe when I first saw this film, years ago, there were no bells. And I do know that the ending was known to be ambiguous in 1961; that was the way it was reported in reviews in Britain at the time.

One thing that is not made clear at the end is: if the earth were saved; whether the earth would stop moving closer to the sun or move back into its original orbit if the bombs were successful. If they merely stopped the decline and left the earth in its new orbit that would probably just delay the end. The signs were that the rise in global temperature was inimical to life in general and human life and civilisation in particular.

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I think there is a strong hint that the earth has been saved in that all the church bells start to ring.
I loved the ending but I agree; the pealing church bells strongly hint that salvation has occurred.

BTW the version I saw didn't seem to have the orange tints about which I'd heard.

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spookyrat -- Where did you see the film? If you saw a DVD version (either the American or British one) the tint is on both. Are you sure the color was set properly on your television? Or did you stream it, and maybe there was an internet glitch? There were a couple of very poor quality VHS tapes in the 80s that were pan & scan and didn't have the tint, but these have long since disappeared. Any copy today has that restored tint (seen only in the first five or so minutes, and again in the last ten), which was much missed for forty years.

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Well it's funny you mention that hobnob. I just saw it on Australian television and no, there is nothing wrong with my set.

However reading some of the other posts on the film, I noticed mention was made of the "great" b & w cinematography.

I would have to say in all honestly the print I saw looked really crappy. So possibly that has something to do with why I saw no tints.

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Ah, okay, spookyrat, from the sound of things you must have seen a bad print. The b&w cinematography really is superb. As a kid I saw the film in the movies when it first came out, but after that the tint was never reproduced on TV prints in the intervening 40 years, even on the couple of crummy VHS versions. When I saw the orange/yellow tint restored in 2000 (first on a new widescreen VHS and then on DVD) it looked fantastic and was so great to see again. It's amazing how effective the tinting is on this beautifully shot film. You really need to see it in its original pristine form. You'll like it even better!

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Well I guess you win some and lose some on the TV merry -go -round hob. I probably lucked out here, but have had my share of successes too. I'll look out for a better print at some stage in the future.

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spook, when you see the film again in its proper look, let us know how you liked it. This may be the best example of tinting I've ever seen in a movie, both in its quality and its effectiveness. The underlying b&w cinematography only makes it better.

Can you get a good DVD of it?

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Can you get a good DVD of it?
Will keep an eye out hob.

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Great, spookyrat! As I said, I value your opinion and would like to hear what you think of it once you've seen it properly. Until then, see you around the boards.

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Until then, see you around the boards.
Will do hobnob.

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zoe-butler51: The bells were not added to the film by the American distributor. Don't know where you got that from. The film was and is the same in both the UK and US.

I always felt the ending, while ambiguous, hinted at the Earth's salvation. In the novelization of the film, there is no doubt: the world is saved. It even starts to rain on Fleet Street.

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hobnob53: Yes, you are right. I do not know where I got that from either. It must have been something I ate that caused me to write that. :P As far as I know, and as you point out, the film was and is the same in both the UK and the US. I think I meant to say something like. "if someone proved that the bells were added by an American distributor, then they must have researched well before hand because those were English bells". I should have read what I wrote more carefully before I posted it, I apologise if what I said was misleading. I wrote like an idiot. Thank you for the correction. :)

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My goodness, zoe, don't beat yourself up about it! Hardly a big deal. But I was amused at the thought that, if what you said had been true, the American distributor (Universal) would have even thought to do careful research into the proper sound of English church bells!

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I'm not beating myself up. I just always admit when I'm wrong. :)

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So do I, but it just struck me you were being a bit hard on yourself. Anyway, thanks for your honesty, and now, onward...!

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Great Ending!




When there's no more room in hell, The dead will walk the earth...

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[deleted]

A great finishses indeed, my pwecious!

...then whoa, differences...

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