Kicking off the Irwin Allen month we have possibly my favourite disaster movie (or just movie) of all time. The Poseidon Adventure cemented a genre that had not been given much love and firmly kick started off one of the biggest era’s of disaster movie heaven.
A wave capsizes an old ship on its last voyage. Ten survives start a trek to climb out of the now upside down vessel. Who will survive?
The Disasters Faced
Capsizing, drowning, flooding, angry passengers, lack of hot-pants, having hot-pants, climbs, explosions and death by dribble.
Irwin Allen along with his team including Sterling Silliphant and Ronald Neame bring the disaster movie formula to life. We spend ten minutes meeting the cast whom are paraded in front of us after a title card announces that only a handful will survive. From there we are left guessing whom will make it as one by one the stars drop to their doom. Everything is very tightly woven, it doesn’t dwell on anything nor stay sitting still for any moment of time. The cast whilst some are strangely cast are clearly enjoying themselves yet there’s a lot of heart and soul in it too.
The boat model itself stands up well because there’s no sky shots to reference things to nor if there any CGI. CGI utterly dates a film, this has none. The capsizing itself is still fantastic to watch and the sets are very well done too. The make up helps. The fact that the actors are really dealing with the elements is what gives this film a certain grit that I really love.
Why It’s Worth Watching
The tight script, likeable characters and excellent cast really propel the film forward. There’s a little bit of sadness, a little comedy, characters to cheer for, characters to loathe. There are classic lines “Just panties what else do I need?” and there’s an awfully annoyingly catchy theme song. The music itself by John Williams is strong too. Have a drink for every time Gene or Ernest shout a bit. You’ll be slaughtered by 45 minutes in. I also quite enjoy the whole religious side of the film too. The message of finding your inner strength instead of looking to someone else to solve your problems has always sat well with me.
A word on the special edition too as it has an excellent collection of special features. One is a part-time commentary with Ronald Neame with some fun stories to say, the other is a full length one of Stella Stevens, Pamela Sue Martin and Carol Lynley as they giggle and laugh their way through it. Carol and in particular Stella’s knowledge and titbits are really enjoyable to listen to. There’s also an extra disc with some of the cast looking back, looking at the script writing, how they done some of the effects and a plethora of photos.
Each character is memorable and they all play off each other so well. My personal favourite changes over the years but it’s currently Stella Steven’s Linda Rogo. Utterly hilarious from start to finish, the tart with a heart that you want to root for. There’s so many though. I always root for Nonnie and Martin to get together, Manny to roll his eyes at Belle… ah. A great study in characters that can be easily established in such a short period of time.
The ballroom scene is fantastic but Shelley Winters famous death is so iconic you can’t ignore putting it here. “Life…always…matters very much…!” *dead*
Just as Shelley Winters died, Gene Hackman cries out “Not this woman” and then promptly dribbles all over her! Insult to injury!
Iconic, character driven, action packed adventure. It’s an absolute joyous ride from start to finish. If anyone wants to have a 101 on disaster movies, The Poseidon Adventure is absolutely the place to start.