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VAL GUEST DIRECTS DISASTER IN 'THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE'

THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE Released in 1961

A rat-a-tat dialog hybrid of THE FRONT PAGE and the doomsday-anticipation of THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, Val Guest's disaster opus THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE has ice caps melting decades before the standard trend...

And there's a fair amount of preaching (albeit far ahead of its time) like any cautionary science-fiction... but everything flows not only with the dire situation at hand but the hustle and bustle of a hustling/bustling newspaper office... 

Where boozy yet intellectual veteran reporter Leo McKern and tattered, has-been, single father Edward Judd are in the nervy dilemma of figuring exactly what to write about — despite the fact both America and Russia tested nuclear weapons not only one day apart, but an entire week earlier, so, with that important game-changing aspect out of the way, the story begins as if the viewer arrived fifteen-minutes late as Judd's snarky, sarcastic reporter is a bit much to take so soon, all at once: Yet his obnoxious persona makes more sense the closer the slow-burn, possibly-apocalyptic future nears...

Top Half of The Day BLU RAY Rating: ****1/2

That director Val Guest initially progresses with mild catastrophes, from a heat wave to a dense fog, ultimately leading to the primary flaw, which, in 1961, couldn't be helped... although, mainly set in a press-room, the starkly contrasting/randomly inserted film-aesthetic of actual storms, fires and floods could be attributed to news footage as opposed to stock footage...

And like any Disaster tale there needs a human angle... and Judd's romance with gorgeous and assertive Janet Munro, coinciding with each of nature's setbacks, is the true mainline... 

Since, as a government secretary, she picks up on important information first, their heated chemistry... along with various eruptions of newsroom politics and deadlines... flows smoothly yet frantically, making DAY a counterpart to Val Guest's police procedural HELL IS A CITY: the underrated auteur (usually employed by Hammer) is key at moving an intense, suspenseful film's pace neatly in-step with the all-too-human characters, desperately trapped in-between.

Janet Munro in THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE
Janet Munro in THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE
Janet Munro in THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE
A steamy Janet Munro in THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE with Edward Judd
The gorgeous ingenue Janet Munro in THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE
Edward Judd, Gene Anderson (The Break) & Leo McKern in THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE
Val Guest's Hell Is A City cop Geoffrey Frederick in THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE with Bernard Braden
Edward Judd, Geoffrey Frederick & Leo McKern in THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE
Non-famous cameo of Michael Caine in THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE
Michael Caine as a checkpoint cop in THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE
Intro & Outro Sepia film-stock with Gene Anderson in THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE
Leo McKern in THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE with Edward Judd & Janet Munro
Leo McKern in THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE with Edward Judd, Janet Munro and Gene Anderson

Gorgeous model cameo by Julie Samuel fog-trapped in THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE
Edward Judd's "Why don't you blow yourself?" line from THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE
Edward Judd checks panties in THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE
Edward Judd over a decade later on THE SWEENEY with John Thaw

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