Friday with Fred Astaire
On the Beach (1959)
Stanley Kramer’s On the Beach co-starring Ava Gardner, Gregory Peck, pre-Norman Bates (in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho) Anthony Perkins and, of course, Fred Astaire in a rare, dramatic, non-dancing role, is based upon the haunting novel by Nevil Shute. It’s a novel I recommend reading, though it doesn’t rank high among Nevil Shute’s most devoted readers. On the Beach earned a literary and intellectual reputation as an anti-war story or an anti-nuclear tale warning against apocalypse. In my judgment, On the Beach—the movie and the book—is neither of those.