The Poseidon Adventure (1972)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BB.5

USA, 1972.  Twentieth Century Fox, Irwin Allen Productions, A Ronald Neame Film, Kent Productions.  Screenplay by , , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Dated but sometimes fun adventure that inspired nearly a decade of ensemble disaster films, going from adorably cheesy to embarrassing by the time they finally went screaming out of style. A luxury steam liner is travelling from New York to Athens, and on board are an assortment of characters ranging from a sweet Jewish couple (Jack Albertson, Shelley Winters), a Big Apple cop (Ernest Borgnine) and his former prostitute wife (Stella Stevens), a brother and sister pair (Pamela Sue Martin, Eric Shea), a retired haberdasher on his first vacation (Red Buttons) and a highly personable waiter (Roddy McDowall).  Gene Hackman is ridiculously bad as a ‘Do It Yourself!’ preacher who has nothing original or comprehensible to say but comes in handy when a giant tidal wave completely capsizes the ship and he leads a handful of passengers to safety. Following a wonderfully staged sequence where dozens of cast members adjust to the floor suddenly becoming the ceiling, the plot takes the characters through the entire cruise liner as they court danger and death in an effort to survive. It’s nice to remember a time when action movies emphasized character and dialogue, but it’s a shame that in this case the main character is the hokiest possible hero that even the worst TV-movie-of-the-week could ever have come up with. Watch for the part where he starts yelling at God, it’s hilarious;  Winters pulling off Olympic swimming after gaining 40 pounds for her role, on the other hand, is a curiosity.

Academy Awards:  Special Achievement in Visual Effects; Best Original Song (“The Morning After”)
Nominations: Best Supporting Actress (Shelley Winters); Best Cinematography; Best Art Direction; Best Costume Design; Best Film Editing; Best Sound; Best Original Dramatic Score

Golden Globe Award:  Best Supporting Actress (Shelley Winters)
Nominations: Best Picture-Drama; Best Original Song (“The Morning After”)

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