Friday Flashback: On the Beach

Well before Melbourne lockdown there was the day Hollywood came to town and emptied the streets.

I’m cheating a bit in this week’s Friday Flashback by drawing upon a film (not television) with this look at 1959 film On the Beach.

Shot in Melbourne by Stanley Kramer, the Nevil Shute tale centred around the end of the world following a nuclear war and starred Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins.

To achieve its empty Melbourne landscape the film cleared out city streets on a Sunday afternoon.

More recently we’ve seen very empty streets for a far different reason…

9 Responses

  1. The TV remake in 2000 wasn’t any challenge to this classic movie, which I suggest was a message against nuclear war during the Cold War period.
    Gregory Peck was ideal in his role but the movie was a typical 50’s star studded Hollywood production of the time, parts of which Nevil Shute was creatively not that happy with.
    I hope that another version of On the Beach could be made in the future, certainly the Doomsday clock is now at 23:58:20 according to Google.

  2. From what I’ve read, Ava Gardner never said the quote about Melbourne being the perfect place to make an end of the world movie. The quote was invented by the Sydney media because they lost their bid to have the film made there. A bit of jealousy I think. There is a really good book all about the making of the film but sorry, I can’t remember who is the author.

  3. It’s actually a really good movie. I grew up in Frankston/Mt Eliza and my parents were extras in it and would always point out the locations used (Frankston Railway station and Canadian Bay Yacht Club). Frankston was just a small seaside town back then that people from the city would actually travel down to on the train to have their holidays haha. The station got rebuilt in the late 80’s but it looked just as it did in the film when I used to sit and wait there for my school bus. Also worth noting that back then the shops all closed at 1pm on a Saturday and didn’t open again till Monday morning so a lot easier to film empty streets than it would be today.

  4. A great film and was on 9 a few weeks back-the current print is stunningly clear-one of the very few actual Australians in the film was the great John Mellion playing a US sailor!

    1. It has been shown every couple of years or so, usually on the weekend afternoons-there’s a very good doco about the book and film that comes on SBS at the same sort of frequency over the last few years as well.

  5. … and, according journalist Neil Jillett in the SMH at the time, star Ava Gardner described Melbourne as “the perfect place to make a film about the end of the world” …

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