On the Beach: the Hydrogen Bomb and Hollywood

In 1959, Hollywood released a movie titled "On the Beach," starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins.  The story line centered on the voyage of a submarine looking for signs of life after an all-out nuclear war.  Not since the propaganda films of World War II had a movie attracted such attention from the U.S. government.  The government feared that the hopeless message the movie conveyed would damage the morale of U.S. citizens.  At a meeting on December 11, 1959, Eisenhower administration Cabinet members discussed a Cabinet paper (CI-59-64) concerning the repercussions that might result from the movie’s release, and how the government might counter the movie’s pessimistic message with a more hopeful one of its own.


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