No Blade of Grass (film)

No Blade of Grass is a 1970 British-American apocalyptic science fiction film co-written, directed and produced by Cornel Wilde and starring Nigel Davenport, Jean Wallace, and John Hamill. It is an adaptation of John Christopher's novel The Death of Grass (1956) and follows the survivors of a plague that has hit London in the not too distant future. When London is overwhelmed by food riots caused by a global famine, a man tries to lead his family to safety in Westmorland.

No Blade of Grass
Directed byCornel Wilde
Produced byCornel Wilde
Written bySean Forestal
Cornel Wilde
(as Jefferson Pascal)
StarringNigel Davenport
Jean Wallace
Lynne Frederick
Anthony May
Music byBurnell Whibley
CinematographyH.A.R. Thomson
Distributed byMGM
Release date
  • October 23, 1970 (1970-10-23) (United States)
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
United States[1]


The film opens with a montage of pollution, which as implied by the narrator, is the cause of a virulent new disease arising in Asia, a virus that strikes all members of the grass family, including wheat, rice and maize. It spreads to Africa, Europe and South America, bringing starvation, anarchy and cannibalism in its wake. Hundreds of millions die. The Chinese use nerve gas on their own population, killing 300 million, in their desperate attempts to survive.

A year after the start of the disaster, John Custance, his family and his daughter's boyfriend, scientist Roger Burnham, leave London just before roadblocks are set up. They head for his brother David's farm in the north.

They stop at Mr. Sturdevant's shop to obtain firearms. When Sturdevant refuses to sell them any without the proper permits, John and Roger overpower him, but are held at gunpoint by his assistant, Pirrie. However, when John explains the situation to Pirrie, he shoots his employer, and he and his wife Clara join them.

To get past an Army roadblock, they are forced to shoot three soldiers. Later, the party become separated when Roger and Pirrie race each other in their cars. John is knocked out, and his wife and 16-year-old virgin daughter are taken away and raped nearby by three men. John and the others find them and shoot two of the men, but one gets away. Afterward, Mary, John's traumatised daughter, stays near Pirrie (now a widower since he shot Clara for trying to run away) because she feels safer with him than with Roger.

Later, they are stopped by vigilantes guarding their settlement and robbed of everything useful, including their vehicles and guns. Fortunately, they are only 50 miles (80 km) away from their goal. Now afoot, they come upon an isolated farmhouse. They kill the farmer and his wife and take their guns. Next, they encounter a larger group trudging the other way. John offers to take them along to his brother's easily protected valley. Their leader objects and goes for his gun, so Pirrie shoots him. The others decide to join John's party.

As they walk beside a road, a motorcycle gang rides by. John's wife Ann recognizes one of them as the escaped rapist. The gang attack, but are killed in the ensuing gun battle, as are some of John's people.

When they finally reach David's place, they see that it is well protected by a stone wall and a machine gun. David tells John privately that he cannot let such a large number of people in - the valley cannot feed so many - and suggests John sneak away from his group in the night with his family and Roger. Instead, John mounts a night attack. Pirrie shoots David, who is manning the machine gun, but is himself killed. The attack is successful, and John takes charge of the valley.


  • Nigel Davenport as John Custance
  • Jean Wallace as Ann Custance
  • John Hamill as Roger Burnham
  • Lynne Frederick as Mary Custance
  • Patrick Holt as David Custance
  • Ruth Kettlewell as Fat Woman
  • M. J. Matthews as George
  • Michael Percival as Police Constable
  • Tex Fuller as Mr. Beaseley
  • Simon Merrick as T.V. Interviewer
  • Anthony Sharp as Sir Charles Brenner
  • George Coulouris as Mr. Sturdevant
  • Anthony May as Pirrie
  • Wendy Richard as Clara
  • Max Hartnell as Lieutenant
  • John Lewis as Corporal
  • Norman Atkyns as Dr. Cassop
  • Nigel Rathbone as Davey
  • Christopher Lofthouse as Spooks
  • John Avison as Yorkshire Sergeant
  • Jimmy Winston as 1st. Hun
  • Richard Penny as 2nd. Hun
  • R.C. Driscoll as 3rd. Hun
  • Geoffrey Hooper as Tweed Jacket
  • Christopher Wilson as Farmer
  • William Duffy as Murdered Farmer
  • Mervyn Cumming as Joe Ashton (as Mervyn Patrick)
  • Denise Mockler as Emily Ashton
  • Ross Allan as Alf Parsons
  • Karen Terry as Parson's Daughter
  • Joan Ward as Mrs. Parsons
  • Brian Crabtree as Joe Harris
  • Susan Sydney as Liz Harris
  • Michael Landy as Jess Arkwright
  • Louise Kay as Susan Arkwright
  • Bruce Myers as Bill Riggs
  • Margaret Chapman as Prudence Riggs
  • Christopher Neame as Locke
  • Bridget Brice as Jill Locke

See also


  1. "No Blade of Grass (1970)". BFI. Retrieved 27 November 2015.

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