Random Film of the Week: The Poseidon Adventure


poseidon adventure 1972_MPTo many movie fans, Die Hard is one of the more unconventional holiday movies they gravitate to around that special time of year, spreading its most popular lines out as if they’re carols or random secret Santa gifts. Although it is a more “modern” classic, I prefer the New Year’s wake up splash that is 1972’s The Poseidon Adventure, still one of the best genre movies ever made in my opinion.

While it certainly wasn’t the first star-studded “disaster” movie made by Hollywood, it’s probably the one film fans are most likely to name off the top of their heads if asked. Forget the two lousy remakes from 2005 and 2009 and that completely wretched 1979 sequel, folks. The one works best as a one-off with an all-star cast (most of which buy the farm before the film is over) and an ending that basically says “we don’t need no stinkin’ sequels!” simply because you can’t top all the craziness you’ve just sat through…

The film works right from the beginning because you know exactly what you’re getting into, yet the surprises come in the form of the great stunt work and pretty awesome practical and model effects that do a great job of making you think director Ronald Neame really did flip a ship full of name and character actors (and every stunt person in Hollywood) and tell them to have at it trying to make it out alive. The trailer, TV ads and even the poster art all give away too much and yet, the film is so stupidly fun to watch that it’s one of those critic-proof gems that you can watch on a loop until you never want to go near even the smallest body of water ever again. I’m betting that producer Irwin Allen, “The Master of Disaster” knew this one would be a big box office smash because how can you lose when you trap so many people on a fake boat and then trap an wide-eyed audience in a theater as they view the outcome?

And the stars! Oh, it’s all about the stars for me. Hell, Leslie Nielsen is the captain of the friggin’ ship! I pointed this tidbit out to a friend recently (it was his first time watching the film) and he was surprised because he only knew Nielsen from his comedy work. He was also surprised that he buys it so suddenly and soon, but again, that’s the beauty of this type of film. Here, you get Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons, Shelly Winters (who was nominated for an Academy Award), Carol Lynley, Roddy McDowall, Stella Stevens, Jack Albertson, Pamela Sue Martin and a few others all fighting for survival after the poor Poseidon gets capsized by a huge wave. Out Titanic-ing films made about the Titanic (until James Cameron’s CGI-packed and later, 3D-packed version), not a second is wasted here as the cast is whittled down to a mere six survivors. All that, and you get a great John Williams score from his pre-household name era.

But I’ve gone on too long here. It’s a holiday and I know you’re all still in recovery mode. Hey, I’m in a really good mood today – I got up and got some exercise on a cold New Year’s morning and don’t tell my body, but I think I’ll do that again tomorrow and perhaps the next day and the day after that. Shhh! As long as I feed it movies and games to keep it distracted it will NEVER know it’s getting back into a more reasonable shape. Shhh! Hear it? That’s the sound of water rushing towards you through your TV! Grab a couch cushion and a broom – you can use the cushion to break your fall and sweep the ceiling while you’re up there. Too bad about your telly, though…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.