Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The World, The Flesh And The Devil (1959)

Starring Harry Belafonte, Inger Stevens, Mel Ferrer
Directed by Ranald MacDougall
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A nuclear attack leaves New York City abandoned except for three survivors, an African-American mineworker, and a Caucasian man and woman, and each have their own ideas about the future.

An interesting character study which nicely showcases Belafonte's talents as both an actor and musician, the film is similar to Roger Corman's Last Woman On Earth, but possesses a much larger budget, affording the actors the opportunity to wander through a seemingly vast uninhabited cross-section of New York, really capturing the scale of their plight and the depth of their loneliness.  Stevens is also very strong, and although the subject of bigotry is certainly addressed, it's refreshing to see how the filmmakers largely ignore it to show its idiocy and how it likely caused the end of the world.  Although you're rooting for Belafonte and Stevens to get together, it seems clear the prejudices of the time wouldn't allow this to happen on screen, unfortunately resulting in a somewhat ambiguous ending, but this is a worthwhile picture and an important one, at least in my opinion.   

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