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Salient: An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University. Wellington Vol. 23 No. 6 1960

Characters Trite

Characters Trite

The characters are trite and Hollywoodish when they should be real people. There is the upright American naval officer (Gregory Peck), a beautiful but lonely woman (Ava Gardner), a nuclear scientist (Fred Astaire) and a conventional young married couple (Anthony Perkins and Donna Anderson). The script never seems to rise above the basic Hollywood point of view—Will Ava hook Gregory Peck? Will Anthony Perkins make his nervous wife face reality? Will Fred Astaire win the motor race? But this is irrelevant to the basic theme which is the impending total liquidation of human life on this planet. It would have been pleasant though to have been involved with some real people.

One of the major effects that the film achieves is that of the reality of the situation. This is no science-fiction story. We are shown, neither violence nor horror. There is only one sensational sequence: The motor race, the last Grand Prix on earth, is superbly photographed, in which the drivers race as they would never have raced if the prize-money was going to mean anything to them once it shots of San Francisco completely deserted. A dead city is a frightening sight. Shots of newspaper being blown down an empty street past idle trams are more frightening than pictures of horror. I had the overwhelming feeling that it could really happen like this. If it does I hope that the last tune I hear is not "Waltzing Matilda."