THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE

(1972)
With Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons, Carol Lynley, Roddy McDowell, Stella Stevens, Shelley Winters, Jack Albertson, Pamela Sue Martin, Arthur O'Connell, Eric Shea, Leslie Nielson
Directed by Ronald Neame

Reviewed by JB

Catch a wave!    After an ocean liner is capsized by a tidal wave, a rag-tag group of survivors make their way "up" to the bottom of the boat in order to get to safety.  Produced by Irwin Allen, this is the granddaddy of the "All Star" disaster flicks, and one of the best.  Although the characters are mostly stereotypes - the liberal preacher who bucks against 'the old ways', the loud-mouth ex-cop and his louder-mouthed ex-hooker wife, the old Jewish couple who speak in questions ("Manny, are you there?"/"Where else would I be?") - Hackman, Borgnine and especially Shelly Winters keep you caring about the group's fate.  Stella Stevens, however, remains an irritant throughout, and, after years of getting laughs by poking fun at his own grave, dull image (an image on full display here), Leslie Nielson is now impossible to take seriously. When he says a line as simple as "By the way, Happy New Year", you just want to laugh.

     The film has its flaws, such as loud and long speechifying and exposition taking the place of characterization, but Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine and some of the rest of the cast are such good actors, they know just how much to overact to put over the campy dialog ("How many more LIIIIVES???").  That aside, THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE is one of the tightest and most exciting examples of a genre that got increasingly flabbier and sillier as the years went on. The premise (down is now up) is so simple yet so irresistable, and pulled off with such expertise and convincing panache, that THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE would still be a minor classic with a cast half as talented as this one.  And to think - not one single computer-generated effect in the whole picture, just pure old-fashioned movie making. - JB 4 - JB


LADIES AND GENTLEMAN, YOUR 1972 ALL-STARS

Gene Hackman - His previous star-making film was 1971's THE FRENCH CONNECTION, for which he won Best Actor.
Ernest Borgnine - A popular veteran of movies and television, best known for his starring role on the situation comedy McHale's Navy.
Red Buttons - Veteran stage comedian who also worked in movies and television but was best known for his "Never Got a Dinner" routine, which he did at celebrity roasts.
Shelley Winters - Legendary Oscar-winning actress (THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, A PATCH OF BLUE) with an impressive resume of quality performances and films.
Roddy McDowall - Became a star as a child in John Ford's HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY in 1941 and seemingly always had some movie or television project at hand.  Best known for his performances as apes Cornelius and later Caesar in four out of five PLANET OF THE APES films.
Jack Albertson - A wonderful and well-known character actor who never truly became a star until the 1974 situation comedy Chico and the Man.
Stella Stevens - Well-known "blond bombshell" character actress who rose to prominence with a 1960 Playboy magazine spread.
Carol Lynley - Movie and television actress perhaps best known for the classic thriller BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING.
Pamela Sue Martin - Young actress in only her second film who would continue to work in movies and television until gaining fame in the mid-eighties as Fallon in the primetime TV soap opera Dynasty.
Eric Shea - Good child actor of the '60s and '70s who had appeared in episodes of Batman as well as the feature film YOURS, MINE AND OURS.  As of this writing, his last film appearance was in the 1978 TV movie When Every Day Was The Fourth of July.
Leslie Neilsen - Character actor who starred in the classic science fiction classic FORBIDDEN PLANET who switched from a mediocre drama career to a superstar comedy career in the 80s with the TV show Police Squad, the NAKED GUN movie series and many other wacky comedies.
Arthur O'Connell - Another character actor, similar to Jack Albertson, who constantly worked in movies and television.

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Remakes
The Poseidon Adventure (TV) (2005)
Poseidon (2006)

Sequels
Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979)

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