At the Drive In: On The Beach

This video is not S-3D

I’ve never been one who’s been much for apocalyptic dystopian fiction. Sure, I read A Canticle For Leibowitz when I was a kid, but why read books or watch movies about a depressing future? I live two miles from the city limits of Detroit. I can see a dystopian present if I wish. So it’s been a while since I paid attention to On The Beach, Stanley Kramer’s 1959 movie adaptation of Nevil Shute’s novel about a nuclear holocaust. When RM Auctions announced that a 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spyder which had a “starring” role in that movie will be going on the block in Monterey later this month, I thought I’d see if I could find still photos of the car from the movie. It turns out that one of the scenes involves a wild and fatalistic Grand Prix race organized by Fred Astaire’s character, and the movie features a number of great vintage sports cars besides the Monza Spyder, including Healeys, Jaguars, Corvettes, MGs, Triumphs, and even a Lotus Eleven or two. The Internet Movie Car Database has collected some of those stills and we’ve put them in a gallery below. Of course someone has posted scenes from the movie, including the race, originally filmed at Riverside Raceway, on YouTube. Stanley Kramer was a talented filmmaker, but he did work in Hollywood so the crash and burn sequences aren’t quite realistic, still it’s fun to try and identify the cars in the race. The movie may be depressing, but the cars sure look great.

More video and the photo gallery below the jump.

This video is not S-3D

In the movie’s final scene, the radioactivity that has killed the rest of humanity finally reaches the Southern Hemisphere and Australia, where the film takes place (hence the photos of Holdens) A tear filled Ava Gardner roars down a coastal road in an Austin Healey to her final meeting with Gregory Peck, an American naval officer. Later, in a shot viewed from behind the windshield to her Austin, she stands watching as his submarine leaves port and descends, its crew deciding to return “home”. After affixing the race winner’s plaque to his Ferrari Fred Astaire commits suicide by sitting behind the wheel and starting up the car inside his sealed garage, a smile on his face. The film ends with scenes of a deserted Melbourne.

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