The Poseidon Adventure (1972) Poster

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9/10
Still Seaworthy
kevcom6 June 2001
Anyone who has seen as many disaster movies as I have knows that this is absolutely the best one ever made. For a film nearly thirty years old, Poseidon Adventure is still so effective that it would cause anyone planning to take a cruise to think twice. You probably know the plot--luxury liner capsized by a tidal wave. This synopsis is brought to life with suspense, drama, and sometimes, terrifying reality. One of the most effective cinematic touches is that in nearly every scene, the camera is slowly swaying back and forth to give us a sense that we really are at sea. Something "Titanic" completely missed.

We follow the journey of ten survivors through the inverted ship to their hopeful rescue--narrowly escaping fires, explosions, and flooding corridors every step of the way. The sets are epic and nothing less than spectacular. Especially the inverted dining room when the Atlantic Ocean comes crashing in, and the engine room which is now a horrifying twisted metal inferno. The cast is good, however Gene Hackman, Shelly Winters, and Stella Stevens are best. Hackman is our handsome hero, Winters is our unselfish caring mother, and Stevens is absolutely radiant (pre-capsize) and adds a welcome touch of humor to the mess.

No, the movie is not perfect, and it is of course starting to look a bit dated. However the suspense and dazzling effects will keep you glued to your seat and you certainly won't be bored. Poseidon Adventure is a true classic. A must see for everyone--not just disaster movie fans.
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10/10
Twice as good, half as long
Spartan3 April 1999
If you have three and a half hours to kill, do NOT watch Titanic. Take the three and a half hours and watch the Poseidon Adventure twice. Okay, it's campy and it's the consummate 70s disaster flick, complete with ensemble cast.

But when you put them up against each other, Poseidon Adventure is just leagues better than Titanic. Titanic is over three hours, and centers around two characters. In that time, the two characters are hardly developed at all, they're terribly one dimensional and probably could be summed up in about a sentence each.

Compare this to Poseidon Adventure. Stars off with a dozen main characters, and in half as much time, they all have their own personalities, quirks, and are real identifiable people. And far from the Titanic tendency of stamping "I'm gonna die" on people's foreheads, in the Poseidon Adventure you don't know initially who's going to die- or at least not how or when anyway.

The Poseidon Adventure is just a more interesting movie. It may not be as glossy or as pretty, but it's got it where it counts... it's just a better film.
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8/10
Hell, Upside Down
psistan16 November 2003
The aging liner Poseidon, on her final journey, is struck by a tidal wave that knocks her upside down. A small group of passengers realise that if they want to survive they must journey up into the bowels of the ship hoping for rescue from above.

The idea is well conceived and the excellent cast turn in good performances despite getting little help from the somewhat corny script. With above average special effects for the time and excellent sets that convincingly realise the upside down half-flooded ship and its bewildering maze of passageways, the movie manages to be compelling and exciting viewing.
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8/10
The Best Natural Disaster Film
AVES-23 April 2000
The Poseidon Adventure is one of those movies I have seen at least once a year as long as I have been alive. I lived in Maine when I was a kid and we loved our natural disaster flicks. Of all the great disaster movies from the 70s, this has got to be the best one. Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Shelly Winters, Roddy McDowall, Leslie Neilson, and the list goes on.

The basic plot goes like this. The Poseidon is a cruise ship out for its last voyage and it is New Year's Eve. The guests are all celebrating while deep beneath the ocean's surface an earthquake is happening. The earthquake sets off a huge tsunami and the ship is knocked upside down. In order to be saved, a small group of people heads for the engine room at the bottom (make that top, since the ship is upside down) of the ship. At first, the ocean claims hundreds of the passengers until they are whittled down to about 10 people left. From here there are plenty of tense moments and a power struggle for control of the survivors. Typical disaster movie fare but done rather well.

This movie is a great main event for a disaster film weekend.
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8/10
after seeing this,you might think twice about going on a cruise
disdressed125 June 2008
for a disaster flick,this is one of the better ones.for 1972,it is well made and has some good effects.it's pretty convincing also thought the movie was compelling and touching,and sad,all at the same time.since we get to know the characters a bit,you can't help but feel for them in their(what seems hopeless)situation.i did think there were a few stereotypical characters,which was annoying,but the acting was decent enough.plus,the fact that the survivors had to go through what amounted to a labyrinthine maze as they tried to get out,really added to the feeling of hopelessness of the situation.i was also surprised at who ultimately survived and who didn't.for a nearly 2 hour movie,this one moves along pretty good.i was engrossed throughout.for me,The Poseidon adventure is a strong 8/10
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10/10
The granddaddy of all disaster films
saduran10 May 2001
Although after Airport The Poseidon Adventure truly is the film that started the craze... The Towering Inferno, Earthquake, Airport 75 etc. all owe their getting made to this film...while Airport may have started the genre PS perfects it. Top of the line special effects, decent acting, and an edge of your seat story makes this the king of all disaster films. It's so good that no matter what I'm doing if I flip channels and hot this I stop and watch it.
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the only path to Heaven is via Hell
LewisJForce24 May 2004
'The Poseidon Adventure' is a supremely entertaining flick from the days when blockbusters were amongst the best movies out there. Rather than the worst.

Sure, it's corny and it's histrionics can seem overly familiar, but it still packs a punch. This is due to the fact that it's played completely straight. Well, relatively straight in the case of the Borgnine/ Stevens double-act. And it achieves real dramatic resonance from it's allegorical plot line. It pretty much created the template for the 'disaster' film.

Favourite bits:

Red Buttons' funky little walk up on deck.

The way Pamela Sue Martin and her date boogie down when they hit the dance floor.

Pamela Sue Martin's legs. Ditto Carol Lynley.

Lynley's hippy brother.

Roddy McDowall's accent and dialogue (consisting mostly of "yes, sir" and "I think so, sir").

Ernest Borgnine learning that kids can be useful as well as merely irritating.

Hackman's "Please, God - not THIS woman" schtick and death scene.

All of Stella Stevens' wardrobe.
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7/10
Still holds up... hardly dated at all
TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews30 December 2007
The clothes and the likes are really the only thing that date this film. 35 years old, and it still holds up well. No CGI featured, and none required. I have not read the book of this film, so I cannot say if it is an accurate adaptation, in the spirit of the original. I will say that it is a well-produced piece of fiction. The plot is quite good. The writing is good, and has very realistic, great moments. Dialog is well-done, and delivered equally well. The characters are credible and well-written. There is a reasonable amount of development and background for them. The special effects are undeniably excellently done. They are convincing throughout. Nature itself becomes the threat, with realistic physics. The camera-work and editing are nicely done, save for an awkward cut or two. Cinematography is effective. The pacing is solid for the whole film. As far as the technical aspect goes, the film is great. The acting is of high quality. The kid isn't the most annoying ever seen. The tension is admirable. I haven't watched particularly many disaster films... in fact, this film may be 50% of the total amount... so I can't say if this is an outstanding one. I'm not sure you can really watch this without noticing the theme of passivity versus activity... or, blind faith versus a more critical, independent faith. The film takes a definite stance on that. All in all, entertaining and worth your time. I recommend this to any fan of the actors and/or the genre. 7/10
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10/10
Looking Even Better After 2006 "Remake"
dane53413 May 2006
I would have normally given this disaster classic only eight stars. But after re-watching it (after seeing Petersen's 2006 film POSEIDON), it looks even better than I remembered!

Although TPA may seem somewhat dated and cheesy today, the campy script is really a hoot! Many classic lines found here! Thank God for Stella Stevens' character...

The actors are great, the camera-work and timing are great, and even the special effects are fairly impressive (particularly for the film's age). Actually, the capsizing scenes are far superior to the latest version's in many ways.

If you have plenty of time on your hands, you can always watch both films and compare for yourself. If not, I would stick to the original. It may lack the massive budget and glossy CGI special effects, but it sure is more fun!
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8/10
Excellent disaster epic
perfectbond28 October 2003
Despite some questions about the plausability of the physics behind the disaster, I greatly enjoyed this film thanks mostly to the fine ensemble cast headed by the great Gene Hackman. I actually bought into the illusion that this diverse group of people was living this unreal harrowing experience. I remember my theater instructor said this film makes a statement about which people deserve to survive and thereby reproduce. Without being politically incorrect here, he said to analyze the different criteria we use to classify people and see which of these criteria can be applied to the survivors. Even without any social analysis, this is a fine disaster film, 8/10.
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10/10
Not a dull moment in this timeless adventure.
karen_g3215 May 2004
It is hard to believe this movie was made over 30 years ago. Don't let the fact that it was made in 1972 influence your decision to see it. It is as exciting today as it was then. I never miss a chance to see it, as I pick up new details each time. The scene when the cruise ship turns over is especially awesome. The actors are well cast. There is just a sprinkling of comedy to take the edge off the drama. Gene Hackman plays his part well. I have never been disappointed by this actor. The main characters compliment each other well. They are all familiar faces, but they become the people they are playing. Hollywood has not remade this movie because they can't improve on it.
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6/10
"You can't climb in that..."
steelmanguy15 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Reverand Scott cracks me up because He's so concerned abut all the women not climbing in their long dresses. "You can't climb in that, it'll have to come off"-except, conveniently, Mrs. Rosen. Hmmmm....I die for Pamela Sue Martin's outfit and how she just sort of shrugs and steps out of that dress revealing those red hot pants. That is so good! Love Stella Steven's sick scene! I LOVE R. Scott's sermon. "God likes tryers!" Love love love Carol doing her Maureen McGovern drag.

Also, R. Scott overlooks Linda's giant silver spiked heels! Not exactly recommended "climbing out of the innards of a capsized ship footwear"-especially those catwalks!Woopsie! Having said all that, "TPA" is my all time favorite! It works on every level for me and I don't care what anyone else thinks! Unless, of course, you love it like me than by all means share away! I get goose pimples every time Leslie Neilson looks through those binoculars and says "Oh my God" -die for that. Oh yes.

All The Best, Guy
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8/10
"Hell Upside Down!"
Grant Webb4 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The Poseidon Adventure is the first of a long string of disaster movies. Its about the cruise ship POSEIDON that is capsized on the early hours of New Years Day. The ship contains such stars as Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons, Carol Lynley, Roddy McDowall, and Shelly Winters. They have to escape the grand dining room, flooding corridors, upside down kitchens, vertical shafts, and a lot more obstacle's to brave. The acting of the actors are good, especially Shelly Winters as the former swimming champion. Director Ronald Neame creates characters you care about and cranks up the tension with the claustrophobia and the thought of impending doom. The model of the Poseidon is impressive. The supporting cast contains Jack Albertson, Stella Stevens, Pamela Sue Martin, Arthur Connell, Eric Shea. Leslie Neilsen plays the Captain in a straight face role, and Fred Sadoff plays Mr Linarcos, the ships accountant, but they go out early in the movie. The Poseidon Adventure is an enjoyable film, with a stellar cast. 10 out of 10!
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10/10
Give me this over Titanic any day!
colin1-16 January 2004
I'll take Reverend Scott, Rogo, Martin, Linda, Nonnie, Acres, Belle, Manny, Robin and Susan over Jack and Rose any day.

In both movies, the ship is the star. But in the 70s you could get an all-star cast where in Titanic all you can get is a really good actor in Leonardo DiCaprio and an (at the time) unknown in Kate Winslet.

Yes give me the tidal wave over the berg.

"Oh my god. Hard left."
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9/10
Scandalously underrated
Gubby-Allen13 February 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers

This is still one of the best films ever made, and other than the clothes hasn't dated.

It's got everything in it, suspense, action, drama, sadness & even fits in some laughs where appropriate. I was never around to see Borgnine & Hackman in their prime but I've never seen them better, Shirley Winters is great too.

The good thing about this film is the thought that went into it. The right characters die & at the right times. There's none of the typical Hollywood "Lets have all the big stars escape ok" here. McDowell dies early, Hackman perishes too.

People call it a cliched film. It is in parts but the cliche's have mainly come about since it was made.

This is still the best disaster film ever. Even better than Towering Inferno, which takes some doing. 'Disaster' is probably the genre of film, which which has most deteriorated in quality over the years as this shows.

This is everything Titanic should have been.

A monumental film. 10/10
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9/10
The #1 70s disaster movie that started it all
Casey-5215 August 2000
The 1970's were the heyday of disaster films and this was one of the better ones. An overacting all-star cast graced the screen in all of them. THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE was the very first big-budget moneymaker that spawned a whole slew of knock-offs involving tidal waves, fires, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and volcanoes. It is also arguably the best. Producer Irwin Allen was the mastermind behind most of them, known for spending millions of dollars on special effects and his big-name stars.

A simple plot: a tidal wave knocks a ship upside down and a handful of survivors have to climb to the bottom of the ship at the surface before the ship sinks. They are led by a fanatical preacher (Gene Hackman) who conflicts with an ex-cop (Ernest Borgnine) and his ex-hooker wife (Stella Stevens). Jack Albertson (WILLY WONKA) and Shelley Winters are an elderly Jewish couple who are on their way to see their new grandchild. Pamela Sue Martin (TV's Nancy Drew) and Eric Shea (like Bobby Brady, but more annoying) are brother and sister on their way to meet their parents. Roddy McDowall (a fantastic actor) is wasted as a ship hand who dies rather quick. Red Buttons (PETE'S DRAGON) is an elderly gentleman who helps the ship's lounge singer (Carol Lynley) retain her sanity. Arthur O'Connell is a strict reverend who refuses to go along with Hackman. Leslie Nielsen makes a cameo as the ship's captain who dies during the tidal wave.

The cast really isn't very important, it's the special effects and on-going tension that makes the film so much fun. I absolutely love the claustrophobic and wet feeling that is so important to the execution of the film. While a lot of the acting hasn't aged well (Shelley Winters, Gene Hackman and Ernest Borgnine are especially guilty of overacting!), the special effects aren't too cheesy and the entire set of the ship is wonderfully well-made, still standing as an achievement on its own. Lots of unintentional humor abounds (the obese Shelley Winters swimming underwater, displaying her underpants clinging to her bulbous buttocks), which makes the viewing experience all the more enjoyable. The theme song, "The Morning After", won an Oscar and is rather lightweight, but highly listenable.

THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE definitely does have some twists and turns that surprise the viewer (not everyone gets out alive) and holds the audience's attention throughout the entire thing, even though things do get a little soap opera-ish at times. This makes a great double bill with THE TOWERING INFERNO, which I find a better picture, but POSEIDON is a very fun viewing and is, if anything, a great movie to watch if you have 2 hours to kill.
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7/10
Adventure Is Great Fun.
AaronCapenBanner10 September 2013
Irwin Allen produced this all-star disaster yarn about a luxury cruise ship that is overturned by a freak tidal wave on New Year's Eve, and the survivor's desperate attempts at survival, as they try to reach safety and eventual rescue through the top(well,the bottom now!) of the ship.

Cast includes Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Stella Stevens, Roddy McDowall, Carol Lynley, Pamela Sue Martin, Red Buttons, Jack Albertson, Shelley Winters, and Leslie Nielsen as the Captain.

Well directed by Ronald Neame, this film works despite the contrived premise because of the cast and interesting script, which balances seriousness with humor effectively, with many memorable scenes.
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9/10
Highly Entertaining
Lechuguilla12 May 2013
Water assumes the role of villain, as a small group of passengers try to move ever upward inside a capsized and sinking ship, in what is one of the better 1970s disaster films. The film starts with a screen notice that informs viewers "There were only a handful of survivors. This is their story." Which of course keeps viewers wondering who will survive and who will die. And so the first third of the film is interesting in that we get some good character development, courtesy of a well-developed, character-driven script and an all-star ensemble cast. When a major character dies we feel a sense of loss.

A lot of the nail-biting tension derives from the tight, claustrophobic interiors through which characters must traverse. And I must say the props, literally upside-down, were terrifically designed. It's hard to imagine these interiors were all built sets. With appropriately placed echoes, plus the sound of steam and rushing water, the film's sound effects are almost as impressive as the visuals.

A couple of sequences are quite dramatic. One is the festive New Years eve ballroom segment. As the external wave hits the ship, everything begins to slide at an angle that becomes ever more steep. Here, film editing creates a sense of horrifying realism, with just the right quantity and quality of screen cuts. Ditto the Christmas tree panic sequence.

Cinematography is highly effective. In many scenes one source of light augmented by a bit of back-lighting makes for just the right visual effect. An unobtrusive score in the right places adds emotional depth.

In sync with the dialogue, acting trends heartfelt. Most performers give quite a good performance. I especially liked Gene Hackman and Shelley Winters.

Several minor complaints include dialogue that is a tad too sentimental in spots, some rather too obvious plot clichés, and thematic depth that trends a bit shallow, pardon the pun. None of these script issues are serious.

"The Poseidon Adventure" aims for a high level of entertainment value. With a good script, terrific cinematography and editing, and some fine acting, I think it succeeds.
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8/10
Good characters, great learning experience
John Korb30 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
As a very enjoyable film, "The Poseidon Adventure" has held up very well over the years, and is still a great film in this era of CGI everything. Great, well-developed characters, a great story, and great sets. Oh, and some interesting lessons on surviving a maritime disaster.

Many, many years ago when "The Poseidon Adventure" came out, I was a freshman in college. As part of a Navy ROTC class we were studying survival at sea. Wrapping up the topic, our Navy instructor took us to see "The Poseidon Adventure" at the local theater. We watched the movie armed with notepads, pens, and flashlights (and yes, the theater management was okay with the flashlights). Our assignment was to on the left side of the page note everything that the characters "did right" while trying to escape the ship, and on the right side of the page note everything the characters did wrong. The following class period we turned in our notes and we proceeded to dissect "The Poseidon Adventure", and it did very well! Overall, "The Poseidon Adventure" ended up being an excellent instructional tool. Obviously, that wasn't its purpose, but it was such a well-crafted story and film that it went beyond entertainment, and reached a much higher level.

And now, more than 40 year later I look back on "The Poseidon Adventure" as a wonderful example of the art of film making, and a wonderful way to spend roughly two hours. Okay, time to pop the Blu-ray into the player for another viewing.
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8/10
Bottom Looks Like Up
virek21325 January 2012
Although it wasn't a very long-lived (let alone highly praised) genre, the disaster film was a prominent phenomenon on the Hollywood scene during a fair chunk of the 1970s (and would be revived again in the closing years of the 20th century and on into the 21st). The standard line about disaster films is that involved a large group of people, usually big-name stars, caught up in either a natural or man-made cataclysm who must do everything they can to survive. And during the 1970s, no one in Hollywood personified this peculiar genre more than producer Irwin Allen. While he had been known during the 1960s for such TV sci-fi series as "Time Tunnel" and "Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea", it was in the following decade that he became known as the Master Of Disaster. And it was with his 1972 production THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE that he earned that nickname.

The situation involves the aging steamship liner S.S. "Poseidon" on its final voyage from New York to Athens as New Year's Eve approaches. They have managed to navigate through a severe storm on the Mediterranean Sea, but the ship's new owner's representative (Fred Sadoff) then forces the captain (Leslie Nielsen) to order a full-ahead on the ship's speed, even though not enough ballast has been taken on to allow it to proceed safely. This proves to be its undoing, as a severe earthquake in the sea off of Crete has just generated a massive tsunami. At one minute past midnight on New Year's Eve, that tsunami nails the "Poseidon"; and the all-star cast inside the ship's main lounge finds the world going upside down as the wave turns the ship completely over. Many of the survivors still hold out hope for Nielsen and the crew to save them, but those hopes turn out to be totally unrealistic as the sea pours right in on them. However, one group of survivors, led by a very rebellious priest (Gene Hackman), has made a determined effort to get up towards the hull of the overturned liner. Even that is not without its complications, as Hackman frequently must put up with the belligerence of a New York cop (Ernest Borgnine) who isn't convinced of the validity of Hackman's plan. Even as they make their way slowly but surely through the ship's interior, every deck of the ship behind them keeps getting flooded; and they pass another group of survivors heading for the ship's bow (an unwise move, as the bow turns out to be under the water by that point). It becomes a struggle, as they are reduced to only six by the time everything is settled.

By 21st century standards, notably when compared to films like 1997's TITANIC or 2008's POSEIDON (the latter of which is basically a reworking of this film), THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE is admittedly dated. The soap opera theatrics that were such a part of the genre in its 1970s incarnation are very much in evidence here, accompanied by some overacting a bit too much shouting on the parts of Hackman and Borgnine, who are otherwise quite good. And there are liable to be a lot of people who will point out that the special effects, which gave this film one of its two Oscar wins (the other was for Best Song, "The Morning After"), are now painfully old-fashioned in the wake of CGI. And yet this film, for whatever flaws it may have, and however predictable the death scenes may be, still packs a sizable punch in terms of tension and suspense; and John Williams' score presages some of the things he'd later do for JAWS and JAWS 2. The cast includes, among others, Pamela Sue Martin, Carol Lynley, Eric O'Shea, and Arthur O'Connell, all of whom are fairly well directed by Englishman Ronald Neame, whose previous credits had included 1966's A MAN COULD GET KILLED, and GAMBIT. Credit should still also go to effects masters L.B. Abbott and A.D. Flowers for their work, which still holds up fairly well to scrutiny, especially once one accepts the effects for what they were at the time.

Few critics have ever given the disaster film genre the time of day; and fewer still have any patience anymore for a film like THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE. That being said, however, it manages to deliver a lot in two hours for a $5 million cost; and given that so many 21st century spectacles cost forty times that much with less real substance, that is still quite an accomplishment.
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10/10
A Rare Instance Where the Movie is Better than the Book
Scott Amundsen8 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Credit for the "disaster movie" craze of the Seventies is often given to AIRPORT, a very good film that has a disaster in it, but the disaster is tangential to the plot rather than its center. It was not until two years later that the real granddaddy of the disaster genre was released: Ronald Neame's THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, based on Paul Gallico's bestselling novel and one of those rare occasions where the film actually outshines the book.

The film actually follows Gallico's novel fairly straightforwardly; the primary difference is in the characters. Gallico's dramatis personae are a bunch of people so unlikable that I found myself wishing the damn ship would just sink and take them all to the bottom.

The movie's screenplay, by Stirling Silliphant and Wendell Mayes, softens the characterizations considerably, humanizing them to a great degree and allowing Neame and his brilliant star-studded cast to strut their stuff, from Stella Stevens's funny-sad floosie to Ernest Borgnine's hard-nosed cop whose weakness is his wife (Stevens), from Gene Hackman as a rah-rah football star-cum-minister, to Jack Albertson and Shelley Winters, heartbreaking as a Jewish couple on their way to Israel to see their grandson for the first time.

High art this isn't, I'll admit that. The acting is hammy in spots (Borgnine in particular is allowed to overplay almost every scene), but somehow it works here. Neame has a good grasp of the material he is working with; the book was a potboiler, a soap opera on the high seas, and he filmed it accordingly.

Winters received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Albertson was easily her equal and should have been nominated in the Supporting Actor category but the Academy is notoriously fickle about these things.

The most impressive thing about this movie, and the thing that sets it apart from more recent epics such as James Cameron's TITANIC, is that they did not have CGI technology in the early Seventies; everything you see was filmed on a set that had to be built with actors who probably spent all day in the water for weeks on end. What visual effects may have gained with the advent of computer technology, something was lost along the way; a certain verisimilitude that somehow looks more real than the sleek CGI stuff.

I have loved this movie since I first saw it as a kid of nine; despite the slight cheesiness of the proceedings, I give it a ten because, as the saying goes, "they don't make movies like this anymore." And it is true. Two remakes were made of this one, and from what I heard (I refuse to see them), they sank faster than the ship did.

Pass the popcorn.
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8/10
Hell Upside Down: A Classic of it's Kind
gftbiloxi11 June 2007
Today it seems that every third movie leans on CGI to a point at which the term "special effects" has little meaning--but there was a time, and not so very long ago, when the words had a very literal meaning. THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, loosely based on the novel by Paul Gallico, was very special indeed. So much so that it was not simply a movie. It was an event.

The film's fame is such that the story is extremely well known. An aging passenger liner, the Poseidon, is making a final voyage at an unsafe speed and with insufficient ballast. Shortly after midnight on New Year's Eve it encounters a ninety foot tidal wave and capsizes, leaving a handful of survivors to fight their way to the only point in the hull from which rescue might come.

The opening sections of the film, during which we meet various passengers, was filmed aboard the Queen Mary. Once we enter the Grand Salon for New Year's Eve festivities, however, every set has been constructed to full size. There are no CGI effects, no rear projections, and (with the exception of long shots of the ship itself) there are no miniatures. The cast works exclusively in the middle of tangible effects, and then as now, the result is remarkably disturbing. It looks real because it is real.

And it is really that sense of reality that puts THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE at the forefront of its genre. Disaster films have been popular since the silent era, but THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE was virtually without precedent in 1972. It is difficult to convey the visual shock the film had in its first theatrical release. People screamed and jolted in their seats, and when the ship capsized the entire audience leaned to the right, clutching at their arm rests and each other. You left the theatre physically drained, your conversation laced with nervous laughter.

It is true that the film's dialogue is more than a little corny, but this was indeed made at a time when children still said 'No, Sir' and 'Yes, Ma'am;' the film reflects its era, and many viewers were as shocked by the profanity as they were by the special effects. But whatever the film's shortcomings in terms of dialogue, there can no dispute about the plot: this is one movie that really moves, and with such speed and logic that you can barely catch your breath.

The cast reads very much like a Who's Who of acclaimed actors of the day. Leading man Gene Hackman was fresh from his Oscar-winning performance in THE FRENCH CONNECTION. Shelly Winters, Ernest Borgnine, and Red Buttons were all former Oscar winners. Carol Lynley received heavy-weight critical acclaim in earlier films and Stella Stevens was the popular star of many light comedies--and gave the performance of career when she stood her image on its head. Jack Albertson and Roddy McDowell were noted character actors, and even comparatively minor roles such as the ship's captain and chaplain went to such notables as Leslie Neilson and Arthur O'Connell. Together they make the unlikely nature of the story seem entirely plausible.

The recently released "Special Edition" DVD cannot, sadly, compensate for the loss of the big screen--but that aside it is really quite fine. The print is virtually pristine, and while the sound is a bit lacking it is solid enough to make me wonder at those who complain. The bonus material is also very good, including considerable "Making Of" information, brief interviews with surviving members of the cast, thoughts about iconographic subtext, and story board samples. The commentary track by director Ronald Neame is both informative and entertaining, and while the commentary track by Carol Lynley, Stella Stevens, and Pamela Sue Martin is somewhat spotty it is enjoyable none the less. Recommended as a classic of its kind.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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7/10
one of the better disaster movies
didi-510 February 2006
The Poseidon Adventure was one of the first, and one of the best disaster movies.

A luxury liner sinks slowly beneath the waves as we follow a small band of survivors attempting to make their escape, led by Rev Scott (Gene Hackman). The Rogos are a squabbling couple of cop and former hooker (Ernest Borgnine and Stella Stevens); Acres is a member of the ship's staff (Roddy McDowell); the Rosens are a devoted couple (Jack Albertson and Shelley Winters); Susan and Robin are the token children (Pamela Sue Martin and Eric Shea); and Nonnie (Carol Lynley) is a singer hired to entertain the rich passengers on New Year's Eve.

Special effects are pretty good, from the actual crash and impact at the New year party, to the set pieces throughout. Guessing who makes it to the end is fun, and the acting (especially that of Hackman, Borgnine, Winters, and Red Buttons as the token good guy) is very good indeed.

A corker of a film.
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Best 70s disaster movie ever
baconbit31 December 2003
To even compare this movie to Titanic is an insult to movie-goers everywhere. Titanic isn't even in the same league as The Poseidon Adventure. Titanic's acting is like an elementary school play compared to Gene Hackman and his castmates. And unlike Titanic, with Poseidon Adventure, you actually root FOR the survivors. I don't know anyone that wouldn't have preferred that Rose went down with the Titanic along with Jack. The only thing Titanic beats Poseidon on is the special effects, and you certainly can't fault it for that. For its time, The Poseidon Adventure stretched the limits of the technology far more that Titanic during its mid 90s shooting.

My only bad memories of The Poseidon Adventure, and this is not its fault, is its sequel. Not only was Beyond... a horrible movie, but it ruins the first movie. Suddenly rather than a huge disaster where only 6 people make it out alive, and only because they listened to Reverend Scott, we find that many more made it without his help. It just doesn't have the same feeling after seeing the sequel. (And why did the rescue team just leave after finding 6 survivors? They couldn't stay awhile longer looking for more?)
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Extraordinary!
kareneshields2 January 2003
It's one of those films that has EVERYTHING. Gripping adventure scenes, non-stop crises, drama, cheese, hotpants on TWO of the main stars, Shelly Winters' underwater underwear exposure, Ernest Borgnine (anything with Ernest Borgnine is good), fabulous characters, tension, really sad scenes, heroes, heroines, death, growth, love, understanding, go-go boots, cliches, "There's Got To Be A Morning After", a kid who looks like Bobby Brady, Red Buttons... the list goes on and on...

If you like movies that have EVERYTHING, check out "Groupie Girl" (a.k.a. "I Am A Groupie") and "The Vikings."
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