Sunday, January 27, 2013

#895. The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

Directed By: Ronald Neame

Starring: Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters

Tag line: "Who will survive-in one of the greatest escape adventures ever!"

Trivia: Shelley Winters trained with an Olympic swim coach so that her character, who is a former award-winning swimmer, would come across more realistically in the underwater scenes

Of all the disaster films of the 1970s, the one I am most familiar with is 1972’s The Poseidon Adventure. As a kid, I was fascinated by its story of an upside-down ocean liner, and never missed an opportunity to watch it on TV. For an impressionable youngster, The Poseidon Adventure was adventure at its finest!

It is New Year’s Eve, and everyone on board the S.S. Poseidon, a luxury liner on its final voyage, is having a great time. But the fun and frivolity comes to a sudden and tragic end when the Poseidon is hit by a tsunami, one so powerful that it flips the entire ship over! 

Among the survivors is Rev. Scott (Gene Hackman), a forward-thinking man of the cloth who believes God rewards those who fend for themselves. Realizing the Poseidon, which is now floating helplessly in the middle of the ocean, is quickly filling up with water, Rev. Scott convinces a handful of people to make their way to the bottom (now the top) of the ship to await rescue. 

Joining the good Reverend on his perilous journey are New York policeman Mike Rogo (Ernest Borgnine) and his new wife Linda (Stella Stevens); Mr. and Mrs Rosen (Jack Albertson and Shelley Winters); lonely bachelor James Martin (Red Buttons); injured crewman Acres (Roddy McDowall); and teenager Susan (Pamela Sue Martin), who is traveling alone with her younger brother Robin (Eric Shea). 

Together, these few will brave the unknown, making their way through a maze of twisted metal and facing danger at every turn.

Though a few of them are a bit rough around the edges, The Poseidon Adventure does manage to make us care about its collection of characters. As played by Hackman, Rev. Scott is a determined, sometimes gruff individual whose one and only goal is to lead this tiny group to safety. As the newlyweds, Borgnine and Stevens are easily the least likable of the bunch; their constant bickering - with each other as well as the remaining survivors - is grating at times. That said, the film’s most unforgettable performance is delivered by Shelley Winters, playing the grandmotherly Mrs. Rosen, who, when the chips are down, proves she’s got courage to spare

Yet as much as I wanted to see these people survive, what I always remember most about The Poseidon Adventure is its more thrilling moments, key among them the scene where the ship is hit by the wave and turns upside-down. It is a chaotic sequence featuring lots of well-staged destruction, and while the characters are, indeed, memorable, it’s the sheer adventure of it all that stays with me well after the credits roll.

1 comment:

AK Williams said...

I went with my mum & brother to see this film on one of ourfamily holidays(Sydney).
I was very excited to see it as the hype about it was huge. It didn't disappoint at all even though I was young I thought it the best movie. Also I remember there was a behind the scenes special made as well that I thought was fantastic. I was 10 years old at the time & lived in the country.
I still think its a great disaster movie, loved the song & the cast fabulous. A classic for its time.