Lawrence Johnston chronicles the star-studded Melbourne production of Stanley Kramer’s film adaptation of the 1957 novel On The Beach.
Lawrence Johnston’s meticulously researched documentary begins with an exploration of the life and work of author Nevil Shute and his best-selling novel On the Beach. Published in 1957, Shute wrote the novel as a cautionary response to the devastating bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and as a warning of the dangers of nuclear proliferation. Remaining faithful to the novel’s Australian setting, producer-director Stanley Kramer and his crew travelled to Melbourne to shoot the film over four months in early 1959 with a marquee cast of actors that included Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire, a young Anthony Perkins and talented newcomer Donna Anderson.
Not only a compelling primer on Shute’s novel and Kramer’s film – Johnston’s documentary features on camera interviews with Shute’s daughter Heather Mayfield, Kramer’s widow Karen Kramer and actor Donna Anderson among several authoritative voices – Fallout also chronicles the frenzied media reception Kramer and his star cast received, offering a fascinating social history of Melbourne at the end of the 1950s.