A Crack In The World was the first movie that scared me; it was everything that a nerdy young boy could want in a Sci-Fi film: action, destruction, mayhem, science, (did I mention destruction), and intelligent heroes. In CITW the villains are not so much malevolent as they are stubborn, self-interested, egotists, ready to take any risk to prove their theories. So today I really do celebrate the anniversary of the grand-opening (pardon the pun) of the Crack In The World, for not only is it a fine exploration of how our unbridled pursuits can bring devastation to our lives, it appears a prognostication credible, its fiction believable, raising the Scare-O-Meter considerably; this internal Meter is what every youngster (of heart or years) uses to rate the movies they watch, and feel are worthy of their allowance. Howard Thompson of the New York Times said “‘Crack’ is the choice one—the best science-fiction thriller this year,” and I will leave it with Mr. Thompson’s words and join my encouragement with his when he said: “the whole thing is intelligent, compact and tingling. Good show. Go.” A Crack In The World is available on Blu-Ray and at a reasonable price to boot.
Location, Location, Location:
Principal filming began in June of 1964 with the Valencia coast and central Spain, providing the backdrop for this ultimate disaster movie. An isolated area in the Guadarrama Mountains (about forty miles northwest of Madrid) proved an excellent place to stand in for a region desolated by the story’s underground nuclear testing. While director Andrew Marton was readied to roll the cameras from above, via helicopter, a group of around fifty cowboys on horseback rode over the ridge coming into camera view; the cowboys were part of a film crew making a TV western. Marton ran them off by swooping low over the group knowing the copter would drown out their sound track. One incident was not quite so comical as the cowboys’ escapade, while filming a train scene of refugees escaping the holocaust triggered by the Crack In The World nuclear explosion, sparks from the locomotive flue, set off flames that roared through the dry countryside of Spain; the stars, some two-hundred extras and technicians, worked the better part of three hours tramping out the brush fire. The blaze threatened a nearby oak forest and a small village; no casualties were reported, but members of the, Crack In The World, company made their return to Madrid with blackened faces, some minor burns and singed arms. Filming wrapped by the end of July, 1964; by the way, CITW was purported to be the first science-fiction picture produced in Spain .
The Accepted Premiere Date is Not All That It is “Cracked Up To Be:”
Time is a funny thing; with each passing year the memory seems to grow less reliable. And so it is with our collective memory of the premieres and national-openings of films. So it goes with a Crack In The World. Popular urban legend has fooled us all into believing that it opened on April 15, 1965 or was it May 12? TCM has the premiere in Los Angeles, on February 24, 1965; this opening was across the LA area, so reported, local papers. Other cities unrelated to the Los Angeles vicinity debuted the movie on Wednesday the 24th and Thursday, the 25th of February.
Yet, the fourth Wednesday of February was not the official opening day for, CITW, the film started unceremoniously the week prior, in of all places, Freeport, Texas (sixty miles southwest of Huston, on the Gulf), and Salt Lake City, Utah, on Wednesday, February 17; San Antonio, Texas, saw the film the following day on February 18. This Valentine’s month release schedule is confirmed by Boxoffice Magazine in their February 15, 1965, edition.
Casting: Chuck Heston Instead of Dana Andrews?
When executive producer Phil Yordan began writing the screenplay (which he receives no credit for his early contribution) it was an update of Dante’s Inferno, with Charlton Heston set to star; that was in the first week of April, 1964. What a difference time makes; just two months later, cast and crew were in Spain starting to shoot the sci-fi flick with Dana Andrews, sans Heston.
The Crack Heard Round the World: Music
In August of 1964 Johnny Douglas accepted the job of scoring, CITW, after seeing a rough-cut of the film in Madrid; he was also contracted to direct the orchestra for the recording. Douglas had only recently (Touch of Death, 1961, was his first film offering) begun work in the movies and was most well-known for his “Living Strings” series, including Music Of The Sea (which sold more than 200,000 copies), The Spirit of Christmas, On Broadway, and, Romance With The Classics, This chain of albums were easy-listening, often heard in elevators. Here is a snippet of the dooms-day music for a: Crack In The World.
Here are some of the, disaster filled, edge of your seat, Crack In The World, posters and lobby cards:
By C. S. Williams
 Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) July 3, 1964
Evening Standard (Uniontown, Pennsylvania) July 9, 1964
 San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, California) June 28, 1964
Evening Standard (Uniontown, Pennsylvania) July 9, 1964
 Evening Standard (Uniontown, Pennsylvania) July 9, 1964
Irving Daily News Texan (Irving, Texas) July 30, 1964
 Independent Press-Telegram (Long Beach, California) February 21, 1965
Valley News (Van Nuys, California) February 25, 1965
 Pasadena Independent (Pasadena, California) April 6, 1964
 Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph (Colorado Springs, Colorado) August 29, 1964