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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Panic In Year Zero! (1962)

Starring Ray Milland, Jean Hagen, Frankie Avalon, Mary Mitchel, Joan Freeman
Directed by Ray Milland
(actor & director credits courtesy

A family traveling away from Los Angeles on a fishing trip learn that their city has been wiped out by a nuclear attack, and the father takes desperate measures to ensure they will survive.

Familiar leading man Ray Milland stars and also directs this engaging piece of sci-fi that delves into how society might be torn down in a nuclear crisis.  Although the budget is low, and an effects shot of the nuclear fallout isn't very convincing, Milland turns in a gripping performance on par with his better roles, and delivers a worthwhile film.  The screenplay unfortunately doesn't flesh out the other characters quite as well, and the return of antagonists from the first half of the movie in the second half struck me as a bit too coincidental.  I also thought that Les Baxter's score, dominated by some jazzy themes, might not have been the most appropriate choice.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed the picture, and it's a good reminder that Milland was still turning in quality work well after his more famed successes in the 1930s and 1940s.

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