7.1/10
2,467
42 user 5 critic

By Dawn's Early Light (1990)

The crew of a nuclear bomber attack the Soviet Union while the President of the United States tries desperately to regain control of his military after his helicopter crashes during a ... See full summary »

Director:

Jack Sholder

Writers:

William Prochnau (novel), Bruce Gilbert (teleplay)
Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Countdown to Looking Glass (TV Movie 1984)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Dramatic doomsday scenario in which the Cold War fully escalates. The story is told through a live news report that follows the apocalyptic world-ending nuclear exchange between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.

Director: Fred Barzyk
Stars: Scott Glenn, Michael Murphy, Helen Shaver
By Dawn's Early Light (TV Movie 2000)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

When Mike Lewis leaves L.A. to stay with his grandfather in Colorado for the summer, he hates the old man's cowboy ways. When Mike demands to go home, the old man agrees and saddles up a ... See full summary »

Director: Arthur Allan Seidelman
Stars: Richard Crenna, David Carradine, Chris Olivero
Special Bulletin (TV Movie 1983)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A TV reporter and cameraman are taken hostage on a tugboat while covering a workers strike. The demands of the hostage-takers are to collect all the nuclear detonators in the Charleston, SC... See full summary »

Director: Edward Zwick
Stars: Ed Flanders, Kathryn Walker, Roxanne Hart
The Day After (TV Movie 1983)
Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The effects of a devastating nuclear holocaust on small-town residents of eastern Kansas.

Director: Nicholas Meyer
Stars: Jason Robards, JoBeth Williams, Steve Guttenberg
Threads (TV Movie 1984)
Drama | Sci-Fi | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

The effects of a nuclear holocaust on the working class city of Sheffield, England and the eventual long-term effects of nuclear war on civilization.

Director: Mick Jackson
Stars: Karen Meagher, Reece Dinsdale, David Brierly
Testament (1983)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The life of a suburban American family is scarred after a nuclear attack.

Director: Lynne Littman
Stars: Jane Alexander, William Devane, Rossie Harris
Fail-Safe (1964)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

American planes are sent to deliver a nuclear attack on Moscow, but it's a mistake due to an electrical malfunction. Can all-out war be averted?

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau, Fritz Weaver
On the Beach (TV Movie 2000)
Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

After a global nuclear war, the residents of Australia must come to terms with the fact that all life will be destroyed in a matter of months.

Director: Russell Mulcahy
Stars: Armand Assante, Rachel Ward, Bryan Brown
The War Game (TV Movie 1965)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A docudrama depicting a hypothetical nuclear attack on Britain.

Director: Peter Watkins
Stars: Michael Aspel, Peter Graham, Dave Baldwin
Without Warning (TV Movie 1994)
Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A television program is interrupted by a news network announcing that three meteors have hit the United States, France and China. At first, it seems natural but after interviews by ... See full summary »

Director: Robert Iscove
Stars: Sander Vanocur, Jane Kaczmarek, Bree Walker
On the Beach (1959)
Drama | Romance | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

After a global nuclear war, the residents of Australia must come to terms with the fact that all life will be destroyed in a matter of months.

Director: Stanley Kramer
Stars: Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire
WW III: World War III (TV Movie 1998)
Documentary | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

This mock documentary uses archival footage, interviews and reports taken out of context and staged interviews to highlight a possible escalation into a nuclear war. In this feature, ... See full summary »

Director: Robert Stone
Stars: Boris Sichkin, Christoph Gutknecht, Boris Lyoskin
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Powers Boothe ... Cassidy
Rebecca De Mornay ... Moreau (as Rebecca DeMornay)
James Earl Jones ... Alice
Martin Landau ... President
Darren McGavin ... Condor
Rip Torn ... Colonel Fargo
Jeffrey DeMunn ... Harpoon
Peter MacNicol ... Sedgwick
Glenn Withrow ... Tyler
Ronald William Lawrence ... Hooker
Kieran Mulroney ... Radnor
Nicolas Coster ... General Renning - 'Icarus'
Ken Jenkins ... Looking Glass Colonel - 'Sam'
Randal Patrick Randal Patrick ... O'Toole
Daniel Benzali ... Bascombe
Edit

Storyline

The crew of a nuclear bomber attack the Soviet Union while the President of the United States tries desperately to regain control of his military after his helicopter crashes during a limited nuclear exchange in this film with a scenario similar to Fail-Safe (1964) and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). Originally a made for cable movie, it concentrates on the relationship between a veteran pilot and his female co-pilot and the president's attempt to wrest control away from a war-mongering successor. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Four People. Three Minutes. Two Choices. One Chance For Survival.

Genres:

Action | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

TV-14 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Matte World Digital

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Russian

Release Date:

24 April 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Grand Tour See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The differences between this television adaptation and its source novel are summarised by the Wikipedia website which states that there are two major differences between the story of its source novel and this filmed tele-movie adaptation. It says: "The first being that the crisis in the novel is started by a deliberate Soviet attack to counter the US military buildup with which they are unable to compete" and "the other major difference in the film is in the romantic subplot between Moreau [Rebecca De Mornay] and Cassidy [Powers Boothe], which is absent from the book, the characters themselves actually mocking the idea of such a relationship between them". See more »

Goofs

The computer readout shows data about the first nuclear detonation. It states that the yield was 500 000 Megatons. The largest detonation in human history was the Soviet "Tsar Bomba" at 50 MT, an unusually large demonstration device. 500 000 MT would be more than the combined yield of all weapons on Earth. See more »

Quotes

[President talking of the incompetent acting president]
President: We got Alice in one plane and the mad hatter in another.
See more »

Connections

References Cool Hand Luke (1967) See more »

Soundtracks

KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF
Written by Dan Baird
Performed by The Georgia Satellites
Courtesy of Elektra Entertainment
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
Administered by BMI
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Uncannily close to the real thing
1 June 2005 | by nigelpwsmithSee all my reviews

There have been many attempts to portray some of the overall horror of supposed conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States. For many who have been in the forces, By Dawn's Early Light came very close to everything we were taught, everything we had to prepare for, if the real thing ever happened.

Whilst some films seek to show the madness of nuclear conflict (Strangelove) and others try to portray what might happen if things went wrong (Fail-safe), By Dawn's Early Light shows the picture from both the crew doing their job, delivering nuclear ordnance, to the President trying to turn the war off whilst his successor, badly advised, seeks to strike back with all his might to destroy the enemy and win the war. In the end, the conclusion that both the crews and the executive branches reach, is that global thermonuclear war IS madness and that the only safe solution is not to play.

In the film, the conflict is started with a renegade/terrorist attack on the Soviets. All we can hope, is that when the first terrorist nuclear weapon is used (probably on the west), the executive branch realise that the only solution is to find a way to a) take the weapons out of the hands of the irresponsible and b) try not to take retaliatory action.

The performances by James Earl Jones, Rebecca De Mornay and Powers Boothe are exceptional. The film would have been better without the personal relationship between the last two, but even with the limited budget for special effects, they managed to pull off a believable and tense drama.

If America ever has to commit to nuclear war, I hope they have men of the character of James Earl Jones's General. A man who follows orders, but is just as prepared to question if the orders are illegal and insane and act against them.


17 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 42 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed