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Construction Engineer Stuart Graff is estranged from his jealously possessive wife, Remy, and has an affair with Denise Marshall, the widow of a co-worker. Meanwhile, Remy tries to persuade her father, Sam Royce, who is Stuart's employer, to use his influence to stop Stuart from seeing Denise. Rogue policeman Lew Slade is suspended from the L.A.P.D. for having punched an obtuse officer from another jurisdiction. Embittered, Slade contemplates quitting the police force. Jody, a perverted grocery store manager, lusts after Rosa Amici, sister of Sal, the assistant to Miles Quade, an aspiring daredevil motor cyclist. The lives of all these people are devastated when a major earthquake rips through Los Angeles and reduces the city to ruins. Written by
Kevin McCorry <email@example.com>
I've always found '70s disaster movies a treat to watch, and EARTHQUAKE is no exception. Following in the footsteps of Irwin Allen, the producers of this would-be epic tie together a number of plot strands involving different characters, all of whom are about to be thrown into chaos as a massive earthquake hits Los Angeles. The running time is long and the cast list huge, but the focus is always on the natural disaster and the film never forgets that. I found it thrilling in the best old-fashioned sense; the first half has a gradual build-up of foreboding as we approach the impending disaster, and then the second half lets rip with numerous scenarios. There's a collapsing skyscraper similar to THE TOWERING INFERNO, a dam about to burst and looting amidst the ruined shop fronts.
The special effects are dated, yes, but still surprisingly realistic. Footage of collapsing roads and the ground splitting apart never fails to take my breath away, and there's no reliance on rubbishy miniatures as in the later SUPERMAN. The human cast is also effective, with a good mix of old and young. Heavyweights like Ava Gardner and Lorne Greene fill out supporting roles while Charlton Heston excels as his usual square-jawed leading man type. We get George Kennedy as a mixed-up cop and Marjoe Gortner as a creepy soldier; Victoria Principal as a sexy young dame and Richard Roundtree as a motorbike stuntman. Heck, there's even Walter Matthau as a drunk; what's not to like? If you're a cinema fan like me, then the list of those names alone is enough to get you watching, and I wasn't disappointing. Sure, EARTHQUAKE can be cheesy, and it's the type of film looked down upon by highbrow critics. That doesn't stop it being a blast.
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