Earthquake (1974)

PG  |   |  Action, Drama, Thriller  |  15 November 1974 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.8/10 from 9,781 users  
Reviews: 153 user | 51 critic

Various stories of various people as an earthquake of un-imagineable magnitude hits Los Angeles.


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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Denise (as Genevieve Bujold)
Drunk (as Walter Matuschanskayasky)
Monica Lewis ...
Gabriel Dell ...
Chavez (as Pedro Armendariz Jr.)
Lloyd Gough ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


An Event... See more »


Action | Drama | Thriller


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

15 November 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Terremoto  »

Box Office


$7,000,000 (estimated)


$79,700,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (TV) | (Ontario) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:

(35 mm magnetic prints)| (70 mm and 35 mm magnetic prints)| (35 mm optical prints)| (70 mm prints) (Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


John Williams composed the score to this and The Towering Inferno (1974) concurrently. Having previously scored The Poseidon Adventure (1972), he briefly earned the nickname "King of the Disaster Scores". See more »


During the earthquake, a truck full of cattle turns upside down; however, the cattle remain in the truck, glued in place on the miniature. See more »


Loudspeaker Voice: This is a precautionary evacuation. We repeat. There is no present danger of the dam collapsing. Move to high ground west of Highland Avenue and north of Franklin. It is a precautionary evacuation. We repeat. This is a precautionary evacuation.
See more »


Edited into The Immigrants (1978) See more »


C'est si bon
Music by Henri Betti
French lyrics by André Hornez
English lyrics by Jerry Seelen
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Great fun and a little bit educational.
5 May 2005 | by (Mind of the Films) – See all my reviews

What can I say about "Earthquake" that hasn't already been said before? A cast that includes Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, Lorne Greene, Genevieve Bujold, George Kennedy, and Victoria Principal, head this great story of Los Angeles and the lives that are affected by those who live their after a tremor registers at 7,1! The lives and lifestyles of these people, some pleasant, and some not, are put to the test as they are forced to deal with the cause and effect of having a thriving city on tectonic plates, that are rapidly moving. A gem of a film, ridiculed to no end because of varying opinions that should not matter to one of those inquiring minds! Ugh! And they say smoking is bad for you. People need to open their minds, and see. See that this film is not half as bad as most say it is. True, this film is a big Hollywood monopoly fest, and their are no unknowns to be seen, as you have Charlton Heston(Ben-Hur); Ava Gardner(MGM actress); Genevieve Bujold(Anne of a Thousand Days); among others, and even co-stars as Richard Roundtree(Shaft) and Victoria Principal(Dallas.) The cast works really well together, and the print shines.

There are a lot of facts explored here, such as animals crying out or running away moments before the quakes, that really give chills out of the reality of it. These are the really great things that happen, and give excitement, not artificial scares made up for the ongoing monopoly that this film has such a reputation for, but rather realistic knowledge that shows what might happen would such a quake strike the earth at such force. Also of note are the scenes with the dam, and the water rising after each "pre-shock" while a man falls out of an elevator full of water, drowned from it.

Great sets as well. Many sets are being torn apart in the quake scenes, while maintaining the reality of sets the tone.

The effects, which won a very deserved Oscar, are what really opens the audience's eyes. We see the valley, we see Capital Records, we see Wilshire, and even Zsa Zsa Gabor's bushes get totally eschewed during the disaster. What is really amazing, is that such matting and blue screen was put to use, that to this day, I still scratch my head on how it was all done. It would really be nice to see a featurette on how they did it all. Those scenes, in which there is an after shock, show millions of people running from a huge building that is literally falling to pieces before our very eyes! Amazing stuff. There is truly beauty in this film when looked for. An event... as the tagline reads is right. Every one knows earthquakes cause damage, but how much damage is seen? It was amazing to see Los Angeles fall to pieces, and show the rest of the world what it would be like were a 7.1 ricter scale.

Equally great is the Mario Puzo script. The first thing that drew me to this film was how well it pulls the audience into the drama between the characters. Think, in recent films, "Magnolia" meets "Volcano." The relationship between Heston and Gardner, while, can be laughable due to the nature of two divas facing off, is still capable of being appreciated. George Kennedy as a worn out cop plays strictly for drama, and even though he is inter cut with Walter Matthau as a sleazy barman cameo, he gets some seriousness for himself in the end. The structure of the film, from the setting up of the characters some fun(like Principal as Rosa Amici with her friend Roundtree as a daredevil) or characters that you can relate to(Bujold is great as aspiring actress.) As for the development of the disaster itself, the way the tremors start as small, and then the big shake, and then the after shock, builds really well, and the characters, with their emotional baggage and structured emotions deep, intertwine and create a great story that is fun for all.

Sensurround was a fast growing mechanism used in films and was fully extent in this one. Many people see this technique as the only reason this film was made, and yes, this was a big Hollywood picture made for monopoly purposes, but there was art in it from the artists who those big wigs hired.

There is a really good film here, and it still stands to this day. Great score by John Williams and there is a website you can go to to further understand the film as it is.

In the end, even though the reviews have not given this film the justice it deserved, the loyal filmmakers that appreciate art and the joy of dedication and film-making have kept this film where it belongs, with the reputation it deserves.

31 of 55 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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