The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

05/15/2020 06:13

Film: The Poseidon Adventure

Year: 1972

Director: Ronald Neame

Writer: Stirling Silliphant and Wendell Mayes

Starring: Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine and Shelley Winters



This is a film take I recognize isn’t a horror film, but I personally do put it in that adjunct category. I get that while watching this, you really don’t even get that feel per say, but the reason I do is that I put in the natural disaster films for the most part into the adjunct category and I did this review. Plus this situation they’re in is pretty terrifying to me. The synopsis for this film is nine people explore a cruise ship at sea in a manner that turns their whole lives upside down.

For this we’re of course on the ocean liner, the Poseidon, during its final voyage. The captain is Harrison (Leslie Nielsen). There are going through a rough storm and he is doing everything he can to keep them on course while not losing too much time. The door to this cabin opens and Robin (Eric Shea) falls in. Captain Harrison scolds him, but he is really excited to learn more about the ship. He is then asked to go back to his cabin and Captain Harrison will talk to him.

The next day, the weather has cleared and we meet some of the important passengers. There is a man who is quite well to do who is single of James Martin (Red Buttons). He moves past an older married couple who are on their way to see their grandchild for the first time. They’re named Belle Rosen (Shelley Winters) and Manny (Jack Albertson). We then see a reverend that is having issues with his father, Scott (Gene Hackman). He is talking with the ship chaplain who is Arthur O’Connell.

In a cabin we meet Robin’s older sister of Susan Shelby (Pamela Sue Martin). They are going to meet their parents in Athens, Greece, so she is in charge until they get there. Today is New Year’s Eve and she has a crush on Reverend Scott. In another cabin we have a police detective by the name of Mike Rogo (Ernest Borgnine). His wife hasn’t been feeling well and the doctor has been taking a long time to help. She is Linda (Stella Stevens) and a former prostitute. She is having issues with wanting to leave the room for fear of possible running into clients.

There is also a group of musicians that will perform at the New Year’s party that are on the ship for free. The singer of the group is Nonnie Parry (Carol Lynley). There is also a man who is working for the ship played of Acres (Roddy McDowall).

At the party everyone seems to be having a good time. There is a problem that the representative of the company that is decommissioning the Poseidon. There is a report of a large earthquake under the sea and they are heading straight for it. This has caused a giant tidal wave. This wave tips the ocean liner over and it is now upside down.

There are survivors of this though in the dining room. Reverend Scott immediately tries to find a way out of this room and to survive. While looking, he finds Acre by a doorway above them. Reverend Scott decides to use a Christmas tree to get up there. He has Robin climb up first to make sure that is sturdy. They cannot convince everyone to come with them, but Mike, James, Nonnie, Linda, Belle, Manny and Susan do. The rest want to wait for help to come. There is an explosion and water fills up the room. The people who didn’t want to come try to climb, but the tree falls before they can.

This group now has to try to figure out a way to get out of this ship before it collapses to the bottom of the ocean. They have some time before the air bubble that has formed pops and water leaking into the ship isn’t helping. It will push them to their limits as well.

I have to say that this film is very solid. I used to watch this film growing up, but I never actually saw it all the way through until this viewing where I originally wrote the review. My dad loves this movie so we would come in whenever it was on television. So you could say I knew how it played out, but not the details of all of our main players.

That’s where I should probably start then which I think the acting is great across the board. We have an amazing cast featuring the likes of Hackman who is a reverend that is struggling with his faith. Borgnine is on point as this detective who is no non-sense. Buttons is fun in his role along with Lynley, Stevens, Winters, Albertson and Martin. I did love that McDowall is here as he’s just a great actor at taking on these different types of roles in my eyes. The cast just really brings this movie to live.

To shift to what I normally talk about, in the story and why this is here. This is a very scary thing to have happen as I said. I actually am writing this adding it to the horror film research due to the natural disaster and trying to survive it. The film for the most part also looks to be quite factually correct for most things in that there would be air pockets that would allow them to move as they would. The settings of the scene are great as well as they do really look like upside down rooms. What I also like about this film is how inspirational Reverend Scott is. I love the idea of a reverend that is struggling to find his faith and having something like this helps him.

Now there are some issues I had with this film. The first issue being that they go in and out of the water with no problem. This wouldn’t happen because of the fact that it is the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of winter. The water would be frigid. They don’t even look cold outside of being wet. This would make a scene at the end of the film much more difficult and nearly impossible to complete. The other issue that struck me is that people would think that going lower in the ship would be smarter. They know the ship is upside down, why would go to what was the top be better, when the ship is filling up with water. I know the issue is explained by stating that the hull is thick steel, but there would still be ways out of the ship despite this.

With that said, this film is very well done. The acting is great across the board, the concept and story is both good as well. For the most part this film is not necessarily completely factually correct, but enough where it really is not a big deal. I consider this film to be loosely a horror film in that we have a natural disaster, in the giant tidal wave, which puts all of these people’s lives in jeopardy. They have to overcome this to survive, which makes this somewhat scary to me. I would definitely recommend giving this film a viewing.


My Rating: 8 out of 10