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Five (1951 film)

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Director  Arch Oboler
Language  English
6.6/10 IMDb

Genre  Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
Country  United States
Five (1951 film) movie poster
Release date  April 25, 1951 (1951-04-25) (United States)
Writer  Arch Oboler (story), James Weldon Johnson (dialogue)
Genres  Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic fiction, Black-and-white, Disaster Film, Action/Adventure, Doomsday film
Nominations  Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written Low-Budget Film
Cast  William Phipps (Michael), Susan Douglas (Roseanne Rogers), James K Anderson (Eric), Charles Lampkin (Charles), Earl Lee (Mr. Barnstaple)
Similar movies  Related Arch Oboler movies
Tagline  Four men and one woman are the last five people on Earth...This is their story!

Joe dante on five

Five is an independently made 1951 American black-and-white post-apocalyptic science fiction film produced, written, and directed, by Arch Oboler, that stars William Phipps, Susan Douglas Rubes, James Anderson, Charles Lampkin and Earl Lee. The film was distributed by Columbia Pictures.


Five (1951 film) movie scenes

The storyline of Five involves five survivors, one woman and four men, of an atomic bomb disaster. It appears to have wiped out the rest of the human race while leaving all infrastructure intact. The five come together at a remote, isolated hillside house; they not only try to figure out how to survive but come to terms with the loss of their own personal worlds, while also being forced to face an unknown future.

Five (1951 film) movie scenes

Teresa brewer sings and dances music music music with the firehouse five 1951


Five (1951 film) wwwgstaticcomtvthumbmovieposters37790p37790

Roseanne Rogers (Susan Douglas Rubes) trudges from place to place, searching for another living human being. A Mountain News headline reports a scientist's warning that detonating a new type of atomic bomb could cause the extinction of humanity.

Five (1951 film) Amazoncom Five Susan Douglas William Phipps James Anderson

Rosanne eventually makes her way to her aunt's isolated hillside house and faints when she finds Michael (William Phipps) already living there. At first she is too numb to speak and slow to recover. She later resists Michael's friendly attempt to become more intimate, revealing that she is married and also pregnant.

Five (1951 film) Five 1951 film Alchetron The Free Social Encyclopedia

Two more survivors arrive, attracted by the smoke coming from the house's chimney. Oliver P. Barnstaple (Earl Lee) is an elderly bank clerk who is in denial about his situation; he believes he is simply on vacation. Since the atomic disaster, he has been taken care of by Charles (Charles Lampkin), a thoughtful and affable African American. They both survived because they were accidentally locked in a bank vault when the disaster happened. Roseanne was in a hospital's lead-lined X-ray room, while Michael was in an elevator in New York City's Empire State Building.

Five (1951 film) Watch and Download Five courtesy of Jimbo Berkey

Barnstaple sickens, but seems to recover and then insists on going to the beach. There, they drag a man named Eric (James Anderson) out of the ocean surf. He is a mountain climber who became stranded on Mount Everest by a blizzard during the atomic disaster. He was flying back to the United States when his aircraft ran out of fuel just short of land. Meanwhile, Barnstaple dies peacefully.

Five (1951 film) Five 1951 trailer YouTube

Eric quickly sows discord among the group of survivors: He theorizes that they are somehow immune to the radiation and wants to find and gather together other survivors. Michael, however, is skeptical and warns that radiation will be the most concentrated in the cities Eric wants to search.

Five (1951 film) Five 1951 blackandwhite postapocalyptic science fiction film

The newcomer later reveals himself to be a racist; he can barely stand living with Charles. When Charles objects, he and Eric fight, stopping only when Roseanne goes into labor; she gives birth to a boy, delivered by Michael. Afterwards, while the others work to make a better life, Eric goes off by himself. Maliciously, he drives their jeep through the group's cultivated field, destroying part of their crops. Michael orders Eric to leave, but Eric produces a pistol and announces that he will leave only when he is ready.

Later one night, Eric tells Roseanne that he is going to the city (Oak Ridge). Wanting to discover her husband's fate, Roseanne agrees to go with him, as he had hoped; he insists that she not tell Michael. After stealing supplies, Eric is stopped by a suspicious Charles; in the ensuing struggle, he stabs Charles in the back, killing him.

Once they reach the city, Eric begins looting, while Roseanne goes to her husband's office and then to a nearby hospital's waiting room; there she discovers her husband's skeletal remains. She now wants to return to Michael, but Eric refuses to let her go. They struggle and his shirt sleeve is torn open, revealing unmistakable signs of advanced radiation poisoning. In despair he runs away, not at all immune as his ego had led him to believe.

Rosanne begins the long walk back to the house, but along the way, her son dies. Michael, who has been searching for Rosanne, eventually finds her, and after burying her son, they return to the house. When Michael resumes cultivating the soil, Rosanne fatalistically joins him, both now the heirs to an unknown future.


  • William Phipps as Michael Rogin
  • Susan Douglas Rubes as Roseanne Rogers
  • James Anderson as Eric
  • Charles Lampkin as Charles
  • Earl Lee as Oliver P. Barnstaple
  • Production

    According to Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies, the film is the first to depict the aftermath of an atomic bomb catastrophe.

    The unusual house that is the setting for most of the film was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and owned by producer/director/writer Arch Oboler.

    Actor Charles Lampkin introduced Oboler to the prose poem The Creation by James Weldon Johnson and convinced him to include excerpts of it in the final script of Five. It would become Lampkin's soliloquy for his character Charles; this may be the first time that audiences in the USA, Latin America, and Europe were exposed to African-American poetry, albeit not identified as such in the film.

    Oboler shot this very low budget feature for $75,000, using as his crew a small group of recent graduates from the University of Southern California film school and starring five (then) unknown actors. Upon its completion, Oboler sold the film to Columbia Pictures for a tidy profit.


    Film reviewer Bosley Crowther in his review for The New York Times, noted the characters handicapped the film as much as the tepid plot line created by Arch Oboler, "the five people whom he has selected to forward the race of man are so cheerless, banal and generally static that they stir little interest in their fate. Furthermore, Mr. Oboler has imagined so little of significance for them to do in their fearfully unique situation that there is nothing to be learned from watching them. Mr. Oboler might as well be presenting five castaways on a desert isle."

    In a recent review film critic Sean Axmaker lauded the film, writing, "For all of his budgetary limitations, it's a strikingly atmospheric and handsome film, and Oboler creates an eerie sense of isolation with simple techniques."

    In other films

    During the film Great Balls of Fire!, the characters Jerry Lee Lewis and his future wife Myra Gale Brown can be seen watching Five in a scene.


    Five (1951 film) Wikipedia
    Five (1951 film) IMDb Five (1951 film)