The ambitious Stanton "Stan" Carlisle works in a sideshow as carny and assistant of the mentalist Zeena Krumbein, who is married with the alcoholic Pete. The couple had developed a secret ... See full summary »
After their luxury liner is sunk, a group of over twenty survivors take refuge in a life boat made for only nine. Included in the group are an old opera singer, a nuclear physicist, his wife and child, a General, a play-write and his dog, a college professor, a gambler and his mistress, the ship's nurse, and several members of the crew, including the Captain and executive officer. Soon, the captain dies from his injuries. The executive officer must take charge, and as a hurricane approaches, and their food and water run out, he must decide who to put over the side, and who stays and gets a chance at survival. Written by
Mike Hatchett <email@example.com>
From the opening scenes, director Richard Sale makes you aware that this is not going to be a "pretty" film. With the small shot of a simple sea mine floating in the water transforming into a classic 1950s explosion with horrific screams of passengers, Sale again reminds you that this is not going to be a typical Hollywood disaster film. As a reviewer, I must remind those reading that this is not a pretty picture do not expect your typical film where the heroine always makes good decisions and those that are made do not impact the lives of others. "Seven Waves Away" was a flawless film. It is one of those rare, extremely rare gems that has gone out of print, probably forgotten by most, but when found will provide the most gut-wrenching 97 minutes of cinematic viewing. The plot is simple a luxury liner is destroyed by a random mine, those surviving are cramped into a lifeboat only equipped to handle 12, 14 at the most, but the dilemma, there are 27 surviving passengers. Weight, rations, sanity, and control are all factors that our leader, Tyrone Powers, must struggle with to save as many lives as possible. With no land for the next 1200 miles, Powers must remain in control, even with death knocking at every door.
"Seven Waves Away" now ranks among one of my favorite films of all times. Why? Director Richard Sale does a phenomenal job directing a strong cast in such a small space. He creates a sense of claustrophobia that is unprecedented in the film industry. This film is the chapter missing from the over-budgeted disaster film "Titanic", which happily everyone shows up safe near the end. This is the human element of disaster, the choices that are made, and the difficulty of survival. This couldn't have happened without those playing their respective roles. Tyrone Powers was more than impressive as the designated master-in-command of this little boat full of scared people. When we first met him, as he assisted in others floating away from the wreckage, we can see that he is going to be a force in this film, and it isn't until he is pushed that we see the full potential of his character. He pushed himself away from any swashbuckling stereotypes that he was better known for, allowed water to be pushed into his face, and gave us a rugged performance that hasn't been seen for a very long time. It was due to Powers' portrayal that the others fell into their own characters as well. Others have argued that each character seemed cliché and at times racist, but to me, they all worked and fell into their roles respectively. The only one I had trouble believing was Mai Zetterling's portrayal of Powers' love interest and nurse. She was cardboard with lines, but worked with the others around her. She was tolerable because the actual story was powerfully near to perfection.
With the characters in place, a strong lead that obviously could control the darkening waters, all we needed to ensure was that there was a strong enough story to accompany these deserved moments. Thankfully, there was. "Seven Waves Away" was one of the tightest scripts that I have witnessed in a very long time. The camera shots were tight, the special effects were 50s style, but perfection in every direction, and the bleak tones were what kept me on the edge of my seat each minute of this film. There is something about a film, especially one made in the 50s that shows unfortunate people just floating out to their death. There is also something about the power of a film that isn't afraid to be honest to itself. "Seven Waves Away" was honest; the horrid nature of Powers saying "women and children don't mean anything anymore" had my heart racing. He was powerful, yet torn all at the same time. He carried a burden none of us would probably be willing to do, and oddly, he was hurt for it. The ending of this film is really what pulled it together for me. The excitement of the crew turned to a wicked shade of turnip at the first signs of possible safety. The honesty of this film is what struck the chord with me. It was powerful and real all at the same time. There wasn't time for cheap CGI or pathetic special effects, this was a human driven film, and it worked because they were all characters we either believed in or have once known. Which would you have been if you were in this boat one of the strong or one of the weak? This is a conversation that I could have with anyone after viewing this film, and it is conversation that launches this film into my immediate favorites.
Overall, I don't think my words gave this film credit at all. It was, again, one of those rare films that should never go out of print, but remain a staple in our cinematic community. Tyrone Powers is superb, and Richard Sale gives us a story nearly worthy enough of Hitchcock. I still get goose bumps as I think about Powers making the final decision on those that are considered "dead weight". This film carried a heavy theme and wasn't afraid to show it to the world. It is a real film about honest events and the truth behind humanity, it speaks further truth now, and would make for a great re-interpretation if not Hollywood-ized too much. I cannot suggest this film enough. If ever you find yourself with a bit more money in the wallet, this film is the perfect investment for your collection. A beauty from beginning to end.
Grade: ***** out of *****
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