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The ocean liner named Poseidon cruises from New York to Greece.
Although he’s overruled, the captain says their ballast must increase.
As New Year’s Eve is wrapping up, with partying and ecstasy,
An underwater earthquake strikes, creating a catastrophe.
A towering wave, a great tsunami, makes the giant ship capsize.
Everything’s turned upside down to cries of terror and surprise.
At last, the vessel settles down, and partyers are grievers now,
But soon it strikes the Reverend Scott that they must all climb up somehow.
The bow is sinking so they must try climbing toward the skyward hull;
Poseidon’s purser thinks him foolish and exerts a halting pull.
However, Scott succeeds in swaying nine brave souls to join his hope,
But everyone else stays behind to wait or help the others cope.
The gruff policeman Rogo comes because of Linda, his loud wife,
And Belle and Manny Rosen want to be part of their grandson’s life.
The careful haberdasher Martin, who is single, tags along
And brings with him the grieving Nonnie, singer of the party’s song.
Then there’s the wounded waiter Acres, who does know the ship a lot,
And smart lad Robin and his sister Susan, who likes Reverend Scott.
They scale the party’s Christmas tree and get up higher just in time;
Explosions cause the party room to flood, and it’s too late to climb.
Throughout the topsy-turvy ship, the band of passengers ascends.
Although Scott acts so self-assured, they don’t know where their journey ends.
With water closing on their heels, they climb into a lofty shaft,
And while they rise, poor Acres then falls victim to the deadly craft.
Since Rogo hates Scott’s domineering, he insists they join a crowd,
But Scott is sure that they are wrong and tells them so and very loud.
He goes alone to find the wanted engine room that’s toward the stern.
Once he succeeds in finding it, he leads the small group to return.
The path’s already flooded, though, so they must swim to stay on track,
And Mrs. Rosen proves her worth but passes from a heart attack.
Though Mr. Rosen mourns his wife, her dying words help urge him on.
They find the target engine room and scaffolding to climb upon.
A sudden blast blocks their escape, and Mrs. Rogo falls as well.
To get them through, Scott turns a searing wheel while giving God a yell.
He clears the way and then lets go, compelling them before his fall;
The final six are rescued through Scott’s sacrifice to save them all.

The Poseidon Adventure is one of those classic star-studded disaster movies of the 1970s and is easily the best, as far as I’m concerned. Boasting a number of Oscar winners, including Red Buttons (Mr. Martin), Jack Albertson of Willy Wonka fame (Mr. Rosen), Shelley Winters (Mrs. Rosen), and Ernest Borgnine (Mr. Rogo), it’s a film that doesn’t just display them for the sake of bragging but puts each of them to good use, and no one is put to better use than Gene Hackman as Reverend Scott. The first time she saw it, Hackman’s assured and intense performance made my VC admire him as much as Susan in the film. My favorite, though, is the Oscar-nominated Winters as Mrs. Rosen, a likable grandmotherly type whose death was the saddest for me.

Coming years before the likes of Titanic, the disaster scenes of the ship being overturned are fairly impressive for the time and garnered the first Special Achievement Academy Award at a time when there was no category for Special Effects. The film also offers some very unique visuals, showing entire rooms, stairways, and corridors upside down and sometimes underwater.

Considering that the violence was not graphic, it’s a shame that the filmmakers included several profanities. Also, I know he’s proud to be considered unorthodox, but Scott’s view of God seems rather contradictory. On the one hand, he talks about how God doesn’t concern himself with the individual (a clearly collectivist view) but mentions “that part of God within you” that will help you if you help yourself. Assuming he’s talking about the Holy Spirit, that’s God, indicating He does assist individuals. While Scott is certainly noble in his quest and sacrifice, I think his understanding of God and His role in the world and people’s lives is rather two-dimensional. Still, I do agree with part of the sermon he gives, as reflected in my Best Line.

The Poseidon Adventure was Irwin Allen’s crowning achievement and one of the best disaster films ever, putting focus on the characters as well as the terrible things happening to them. I’ll admit that I have not seen the 2006 remake Poseidon, but when the film is already this good, why redo it just for the sake of better effects?

Best line: (Reverend Scott, in his sermon) “God wants brave souls. He wants winners, not quitters. If you can’t win, at least try to win. God loves tryers…. So what resolution should we make for the New Year? Resolve 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.”

Artistry: 7
Characters/Actors: 8
Entertainment: 8
Visual Effects: 7
Originality: 9
Watchability: 8
Other (language): -6
TOTAL: 41 out of 60

Next: #209 – Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension (please don’t laugh)

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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