A passenger ship, on her way to the scrap yard is pushed to her limits by the new owners to save on the dismantling fees. A tidal wave hits her, flipping her over so that all the internal rooms are upside down. A priest takes a mixed band of survivors on a journey through the bowels of the ship in an attempt to survive.Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A problem inherent to the original novel and all the movie adaptations is that, simply put, a single wave on its own would not be able to overturn a cruise ship 180 degrees. At most, a wave would knock the ship on its side 90 degrees. When the RMS Queen Mary, which inspired the original book, was nearly capsized by a wave it tilted about 50 degrees. Even if additional waves hit the ship overturning it 180 degrees it wouldn't stay that way. Large vessels like cruise ships and battleships are designed so they won't stay upside down even if they got to that point, naturally returning to 90 degrees. The SS Oklahoma only stayed upside down after getting the mast stuck in Pearl Harbor's mud, while the SS Andrea Doria settled at 90 degrees until it sank. See more »
Give Me the Simple Life
Music by Rube Bloom
Played softly offscreen by the band aboard ship See more »
Characters You Care About
The Poseidon Adventure has gotten its reputation as the best of all the disaster films of the seventies, not just for the Special Effects good as they are. It's that select group of people trying to survive, they're a bunch you do get to care about even though some of them can be annoying as all get out.
The film is an adaption of Paul Gallico's novel which was written in the Thirties, but it was updated to the present for the film. While on the luxury liner Poseidon as a New Year's Eve Party goes on, Captain Leslie Nielsen takes note of an undersea earthquake and the tidal wave that will hit the ship in about fifteen minutes. But he's certainly not prepared for the wall of water that smacks the Poseidon broadside and capsizes it.
Before the big event and the special effects that got The Poseidon Adventure its Oscar in that department we are introduced to the group of people who elect to try and climb up to the keel of the capsized Poseidon while the rest remain in the grand ballroom. Leading the group is minister Gene Hackman and the rest are married couples, Jack Albertson and Shelley Winters, Ernest Borgnine and Stella Stevens, musician/singer Carol Lynley, hypochondriac Red Buttons, steward Roddy McDowell, and teenager Pamela Sue Martin and her little brother Eric Shea.
You do get wrapped up and sucked into the conflicts especially with Ernest Borgnine who's simultaneously got a war going with Gene Hackman and with his wife Stella Stevens. She's an ex-hooker who he busted several times and eventually married. He's got a rambunctious nature and Borgnine provides a lot of the interest here.
Jack Albertson and Shelley Winters are the typical elderly Jewish couple who are on a trip to Israel to visit the grandchild they've never seen. They're a calming and steadying influence on the others. So is Red Buttons who finds courage he never thought he possessed and he helps Lynley out who's devastated at the loss of her brother who was in the band performing at the New Year's Eve Party.
Gene Hackman as a minister takes his gospel from that noted skeptic Benjamin Franklin who said that God helps those who help themselves. For those who believe in a divine plan, he seems divinely sent to get these people to safety. Not all of them make it though.
The Poseidon Adventure got another Oscar for Best Song for The Morning After. Maureen McGovern's recording of that tune was playing everywhere in 1972. It's one of the few Academy Award winning songs that is still prized and remembered over the last 40 years.
Maybe Irwin Allen did a wise thing by not directing the film and letting Ronald Neame do it. Spectacle is great and I love it, but a good story with characters you care about is what makes the Poseidon Adventure the fine film it is.
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