Monday, August 15, 2011

Clyde’s Movie Palace: The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

Directed by Ronald Neames


Gene Hackman
Ernest Borgnine
Red Buttons
Roddy McDowell
Shelley Winters
Jack Albertson
Pamela Sue Martin
Christopher Shea
Carol Lynley
Stella Stevens
Leslie Nielsen as the Captain

(Clyde note:  This is the first review in which I took some screen shots and captioned them.  Eventually, it would become my trademark, along with going more in depth into a film then what you would usually get.  It would also lead me to having to abandon the project because of the time and effort it would take to write one single review.  Something work and health weren’t very understanding about.  Not sure why I captioned the screen shots because I love this movie.  Still it certain things always kind of tickled me which in turn, probably inspired me. And on another note, this is in fact an adaptation of a review I posted on IMDB.  It had a 26 out of 36 approval rating.  As I post those adaptations here, I am in the process of removing them from the IMDB.)


Many people credit The Poseidon Adventure with having started the disaster movie genre of the 70’s. It actually was the release of the film Airport two years earlier that gave life to the idea of throwing an all star cast together then cooking up some disastrous event for the lives of their characters to become intertwined as they do their best to stay alive before the end credits roll across the screen. 
At any rate, the disaster in Airport didn’t actually take place until the latter part of the film. Deciding that was too little too late, Producer and Director Irwin Allen decided to move the disaster more towards the beginning of the film and have his all star cast work from there. It certainly would seem to have got the job done because on a budget of just $5,000,000 in 1972 dollars, Poseidon would go on to take in the princely sum of $93 millions. That was quite a haul in those days, and although I’m not sure what that would be equal to in today’s dollars, it would probably be a few truckloads of moolah that even Donal d Trump wouldn't sneeze at.

But Allen didn’t hedge his bets either. He lined up several Academy Award winners because it doesn’t hurt to be able to put “starring Academy award winner” next to a good deal of your cast on the theater marquee or in the newspaper ads. For Poseidon, he lined up Academy Award Winner Gene Hackman as Reverend Frank Scott (The French Connection), Academy Award Winner Shelley Winters as Belle Rosen (The Diary of Anne Frank, A Patch of Blue), Academy Award Winner Jack Albertson as Manny Rosen (The Subject was Roses), Academy Award Winner Red Buttons as James Martin (Sayonara), and Academy Award Winner Ernest Borgnine as Det. Lt. Mike Rogo (Marty.) But the fact that you’ve won one of those gold statuette dust collectors has absolutely no bearing on whether you get to live or die. In disaster films, all bets are off.

Along with all the award winners you have to fill up the passenger list with other actors and actresses who may be hanging around the studio in need of a job or perhaps to polish all those gold plated statues the other cast members keep on the mantle. Along for the ride are Carol Lynley as Nonny, Stella Stevens as Linda Rogo, Roddy McDowell as Acres, Pamela Sue Martin as Susan Shelby and Eric Shea as her over bearing, obnoxious, pain in the ass little brother Robin. Most disaster films always have the obnoxious kid lurking about somewhere. I think the writers feel it’s necessary to punish the audience since the cast has to go through such hell to entertain us.

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Then there’s the special case of Leslie Nielsen. In the credits and on the posters he was listed as Leslie Nielsen as the Captain behind everybody else. If you have a good magnifying glass you can find it but you don’t have to be Sylvia Browne on the Montel Williams show to know that your character won’t be hanging around long.

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A good deal of the first half hour of Poseidon Adventure is spent letting us get familiar with the characters and how they ended up on this ship of fools so that when they become nothing more than shark fodder, you’ll be able to shed a tear or two and wallow  in their misery.

Reverend Scott is being booted overseas for having some strange ideas about God and preaching. He goes around shouting pithy phrases such as “It's to let God know that you have the guts and the will to do it alone. Resolve to fight for yourselves, and for others, for those you love. And that part of God within you will be fighting with you all the way.”


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In other words, if you can’t help yourself you’re out of luck babe!  Hackman’s Scott reminds me of an earlier day Tom Cruise before most of us even knew there was such an animal. He's the kind of guy who could talk you into becoming a Scientologist or a Jehovah's Witness all in the same day. He’s so good playing the part that if they ever make a biographical film of Cruise’s life; I’d consider Hackman immediately for the role. Don't worry though, he doesn't jump any couches on Oprah, but he does have a swinging finale.

As for the Rogos, they are here on their honeymoon or possibly just  a vacation, I’m not sure which. They act like a married couple who has been married forever. Mike Rogo bellyaches, yells, screams, and complains incessantly. Linda screams back at him letting him know he’s being a big jerk about 125 per cent of the time.

As it turns out, Linda was a former prostitute that Mike had to arrest over and over again to get her to marry him. It’s as good an explanation as there could possibly be because there is nothing else on earth that would have brought together this match made in hell.

The Rosen’s are headed over to Israel to see their daughter and their grandson whom they’ve never met. They like to hand out dating advice to the lovelorn with the lovelorn in this case being lonely the single and lonely  Martin, who has spent just about every day of his life as a haberdasher. Frankly, I think the Rogo’s needed their advice more than Martin.

Susan and annoying kid brother Robin are headed overseas to be with their parents. Once you meet Robin, you’ll understand why the parents went over alone and you’ll have the utmost sympathy for poor Susan.

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I thought Nonny would be going overseas to see if she could get her named change. I mean, how would you like to go through life having everyone call you Nonn? But that wasn’t the case. She is traveling with her brother as part of his band and just happens to betheir lead singer. And, she also has the privilege to lip synch the academy award winning song The Morning After. No the film credits have never said nor have they been rewritten to say starring the academy award winning song The Morning After but who knows. They could, and start a new trend. 

(Note: I had done my own edit of the song along  with some nifty  clips.  But stupid crap being what it is on youtube, some dumbass from the studio decided that the fact that I was promoting his idiotic song and his movie, was just the wrong way to go.  Only dumbass overpaid executives are allowed to decide whether to promote their product or not.  So like most youttube clips worth their salt it was removed.  But, where one clip comes down, someone else runs one right back up.  So here it is again by another user, until that overpaid executive from the studio happens by.  In that case the only thing it will say is that “Due to copyright infringement, this video has been removed.”  No shit, Sherlock.  I may check in on it later.  Then again, probably not.  But mine was better Sad smile)

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And then there's Nonny's brother. There's something really weird about her attachment to him. Yeah, yeah, I know, brotherly love and all that kind of crap. In the original music video, there was a clip of that bit of business.  Now you’ll have to put your own DVD and see all that blissful weirdness for yourself.

Akers is just part of the crew. However, the fact that we never get to know him on a first name basis, added to the fact that Akers has a bum leg tells you he’s only a hair of a notch better off than poor Leslie Nielsen.

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The upside down sets of the ship are well done for the most part, although at some stages it does appear as if they could be in an upside down warehouse just as easily as in an upside down ship. When the ship capsizes, we mainly see what happens in the ball room as bodies roll around, fall around and end up mostly dead but it’s well done for a film over thirty years old. It was a lot more impressive in 1972 then it will be for today’s CGI jaded film goers, but it still won’t detract from the overall experience.

There’s also some fun stuff that goes on in Poseidon. You just know that any film that has Shelley Winters being shoved up a Christmas Tree while wearing a formal, then later has her diving like Greg Louganis and swimming like Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan is worth viewing. Then there’s Susan, who has the foresight to wear a hot pants outfit under her outfit, you know just in case she happens to be in a capsized ship. And I can’t think of any other film where you keep praying for Stella Stevens to climb another ladder since she is only dressed in a pair of panties and her husband’s shirt. That’s what I call redeeming social value.

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As they make their way to the top of the bottom of the Poseidon, there are the usual tragic deaths. But here is what I learned, with the warning that if by some odd chance you’ve never viewed the film, there are definite spoilers in this educational experience.  And now with that silly disclaimer done, you can read on just like you were going to do anyway.    (but the disclaimer  keeps the internet spoiler patrol off my case):

You can always just about bet that the most annoying characters (Ernest Borgnine, Eric Shea) will make it, I think because in some perverse way the screen writer wants to punish the audience. If you're married, one of the partners has to go (Stella Stevens, Shelley Winters), as it just wouldn't be fair for both of you to make it! We also learn that if you have a bad injury to your leg (Roddy McDowell) you can kiss your ass goodbye so that you won't slow down the rest of the cast as they journey on their way to freedom. And of course, a lifetime bachelor who just met up with his possible future wife (Red Buttons & Carol Lynley) has to make it also, just so the audience knows somebody gets out and has a happy ending. And whatever happens, don't let a teenage girl (Pamela Sue Martin) get a crush on you, even if you are a lead character (Gene Hackman) because we know that relationship ain't goin' nowhere!

The thing about Poseidon Adventure is that you’ll have fun watching it in spite of yourself and in spite of some of the silly stuff going on. Everybody on board plays their roles to the hilt, as if they take everything that’s happening around them too seriously. As long as you know it’s all just for fun, you should get a big kick out of it if you’ve never seen it. Even after all of these years, I still do and if I can do that I have no choice but to give The Poseidon Adventure my grade of B. Heck, if the obnoxious kid hadn’t been on board, I might even have seen my way through to giving it a B+. Maybe next time.  For now, man overboard!

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