In 1974 I became good friends with a young Air Force man who lived in Xenia, Ohio in 1973. He happened to be a student at the high school in which a school bus landed on the stage which, just moments before, was being used for a play rehearsal.
When I first saw this movie I was especially intrigued by the Xenia tornado footage for that reason. I've since learned that it's really an amalgam of different tornado shots (most notably Wichita, KS) but sound of the tornado was actually recorded that day. It's terribly frightening.
Catastrophe is full of good archival footage, survivor films and network news footage. Of course the world has suffered so many more tragedies since 1978, a lot of this stuff is old, but it's still good.
Some of the events covered include Hurricane Camille, The 1973 Indy 500, the Dust Bowl, Xenia, the sinking of the Andria Doria, and the fire in a Brazilian high rise. The Hindenburg coverage is particularly interesting to me. I've seen and heard the footage and Herb Morrison commentary literally hundreds of times, but the interview with "the man who jumped from the Hindenburg" was refreshingly new.
As a history buff and disaster freak, I'm happy to have added this to my collection. I recommend it to others with the same tastes. The technical aspects are dated and the music can be irritating at times. William Conrad (Cannon; narrator) has a rich resonating voice with enough melodrama to make the script eerie (at times) and interesting. The producers did know when to talk and when to shut up.
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