END OF THE WORLD is one of those after the nuclear war tales that were prominent in the fifties(though this movie came out in 1962, I lump it in with them). It’s the story of one man’s struggle to protect his family in, as the old cliche says, “A world gone mad.” Both the novel and the film were based on the same script. They must have changed the title of the movie at the last minute because the book cover shows Ray Milland drawing the butt of a shotgun back.
Milland directed the film and stars as Harry Baldwin, a businessman taking his family on a vacation/fishing trip into the mountains. Jean Hagen is Ann, his wife, Frankie Avalon(with Annette nowhere in sight) is Rick, his son, and Mary Mitchell as Karen, the daughter. They live in a suburb of Los Angeles, Wheaton.
They are nearly into the mountains when bright flashes erupt behind them, the L.A. radio station they’re listening to abruptly going off the air. They look over their shoulders to see mushroom clouds rising into the sky.
Harry Baldwin is a very civilized man, but he knows what’s coming now, the first one of the family to get the picture. Stopping in a small town off the beaten path(the main roads are already becoming clogged by fleeing cars, everyone in a panic. they buy large amounts of food and, at the hardware store guns and ammunition, having to force the man when he doesn’t have enough cash and the owner wants to hold them for a few days until the check clears.
Civilization is gone, at least for awhile, and Baldwin knows they are going to have to be as ruthless as the predators that are already starting to emerge until some sort of order can be reestablished. The wife doesn’t like it, the daughter is bored with the whole thing, and his son is slowly starting to come around.
Everyone is out for themselves and they have to be the same way. They have food and people will want it. They have women and men will want them. There is no handy law to call and those predators are the first to realize that.
Not a great movie, but pretty good.