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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>
Paul Newman confessed in interviews towards the end of his life that this film was the only one he ever did for the money. He referred to it as "that volcano movie" and said that he and most of the cast knew it would be a bomb from day one. Many believe that part of his salary from this movie was used as seed money for a salad dressing business he was setting up with author A.E. Hotchner, with 100% of the profits, after taxes, going to educational and charitable organizations. Their company, Newman's Own, established in 1982, has raised over $260 million for charities all over the world, and continues to grow and prosper to this day. See more »
After night falls, characters and/or the camera view the volcano from various angles - some 90 degrees removed from one another - but are always seeing the same side of the volcano with the same patterns of lava flow (since it is actually a piece of stock footage matted into the frame). 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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