During a future ice age, dying humanity occupies its remaining time by playing a board game called "Quintet." For one small group, this obsession is not enough; they play the game with living pieces ... and only the winner survives.
During the 1900 Boxer Rebellion against foreigners in China, U.S. Marine Major Matt Lewis, aided by British Consul Sir Arthur Robertson, devises a strategy to keep the rebels at bay until an international military relief force arrives.
Tourists are surprised by a volcanic eruption in a lonesome hotel in the Caribic. The hotel owner ignores all warnings and advises his guests to wait for a rescue team. Only a small group follows expert Hank to reach higher regions. They start an adventurous journey across the island. Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
Steve McQueen was under contract to Irwin Allen. After refusing a part in "The Towering Inferno 2", that film was scrapped and Paul Newman was brought in to make this film. McQueen never made another film for Irwin Allen--he died shortly after passing on "The Towering Inferno 2". See more »
Survivors emerge from cave the next morning to sunny clear sky and calm sea. Even if they were on the other side of the island, there should be at least residual disturbance in the atmosphere. See more »
Cool explosive special effects, an okay Lalo Schifrin score, William Holden being pleasing as always and a well played sense of doom in the opening sections of the film. There are reasons to watch this for these things, but this is a film with problems and that is obvious right from the word go!
Irwin Allen's other four 1970s disaster feature films began with some powerful theme music from John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith or Jerry Fielding but WTRO's Lalo Schifrin score is surprisingly low-key. This describes the film itself: it mostly lacks that Irwin Allen gusto seen in his past work! The theme music says it all!
The gusto finally appears for a while when Paul Newman/James Franciscus go down in that craft to the very centre of the volcano. This scene alone makes the whole film worthwhile: very well done and full of suspense! All the scenes with William Holden and uncomfortable Franciscus together are well played.
But this is sounding like a too positive review and I have to tell it like it is: What has happened to screen favourite Burgess Meredith? He looks and talks like he has just walked out of a retirement home! Just two years before this he appeared in Irwin Allen's The Return Of Captain Nemo looking and sounding a lot younger and more full of energy. I hate to say this: but I feel uncomfortable watching him in this film. I am guessing he had a contract with Irwin and he was required to do this film if he wanted to or not. Paul Newman ("that volcano movie was my worst movie") was in that situation I am told.
If you viewed WTRO in 1980 or 1981, give it another chance in this century, it has actually improved over the years. In the 1990s we got two more volcano disaster movies - Dante's Peak and Volcano - both are good but perhaps a little too perfect with all that CGI all over the place. The less perfect effects work in WTRO is actually more pleasing to the eye as we all know some of it was done with REAL explosives...not computers!
I wish Irwin ended with Beyond The Poseidon Adventure (1979) but When Time Ran Out is not too bad at all!
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