Movie Reviews - Featured Films » Epic Films - Disaster

The Poseidon Adventure Movie Review

scenes winters shelley set

1972 – Ronald Neame –

An oceanic earthquake creates a monster tidal wave that capsizes the cruise liner Poseidon, and a New Year's Eve celebration turns into a struggle for survival. The story follows a group of ten passengers searching for safety through the labyrinthine passages of the ship (the Queen Mary for the exterior shots). Some may give credit to Alfred Hitchcock for inventing the disaster movie with The Birds, but it was really this film that set up most of the staples of the genre such as the ensemble cast of big names and the obstacle-course hazards that make up the plot.

Gene Hackman, as a nonconformist minister, takes control of the group and steers their dwindling number through these dangers. The better scenes use the physical perils to elicit emotions other than the usual fear or anger from the passengers, as when Carol Lynley timidly admits to Red Buttons, the lonely bachelor, that she can't swim. He rises to the challenge of leading her through a twisty underwater corridor and companionway to the next safe haven. This scene also features the best moments for Shelley Winters, who plays a frumpy grandmother. She begs Hackman to let her be the first to navigate the unknown corridor and even shows him a medal she won years ago for swimming: “For hours you've all been dragging and pulling me all this way. Now I have a chance to do something I know how to do. Please! May I do this for everybody?” Overall, the movie shows how the formula for disaster films works when the dangers strip away pretenses to reveal the characters' real natures, but other scenes also make clear that danger for danger's sake won't sustain interest for an entire film. Just as the early scenes are set up as a series of snapshots to introduce the principal characters, the later scenes isolate four of the ten as sacrificial lambs. Unfortunately, the wise-guy little brother of Pamela Sue Martin seems to have a charmed life.

Cast: Gene Hackman (Rev. Frank Scott), Ernest Borgnine (Mike Rogo), Red Buttons (James Martin), Carol Lynley (Nonnie Parry), Roddy McDowall (Acres), Stella Stevens (Linda Rogo), Shelley Winters (Belle Rosen), Jack Albertson (Manny Rosen), Pamela Sue Martin (Susan Shelby), Arthur O'Connell (Chaplain), Eric Shea (Robin Shelby), Fred Sadoff (Linarcos), Bob Hastings (M.C.), Leslie Nielsen (Captain Harrison), Byron Webster (purser) Screenwriter: Wendell Mayes, Stirling Silliphant Cinematographer: Harold E. Stine Composer: Joel Hirschhorn, Al Kasha, John Williams Producer: Irwin Allen MPAA Rating: PG Running Time: 117 minutes Format: VHS, LV Awards: Academy Awards 1972: Song (“The Morning After”), Visual Effects; Nominations: Art Direction/Set Decoration, Cinematography, Costume Design, Editing, Sound, Supporting Actress (Shelley Winters), Original Dramatic/Comedy Score; Golden Globe Awards 1972: Supporting Actress (Shelley Winters).

San Francisco Movie Review [next] [back] A Night to Remember Movie Review

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or