107 of 111 people found the following review helpful
Timed to coincide with the big-screen remake "Poseidon," 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment are releasing 2-disc special editions of two classic star-studded disaster movies, including the 1972 original "The Poseidon Adventure" starring Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters and Roddy McDowell among a crew of 15 Academy Award winners. Produced by the legendary Irwin Allen (who made a career in the 1970s of turning out big-budget disaster movies) the movie, based on a novel of the same name by Paul Gallico, tells the story of the aging liner Poseidon, which is hit by a 90-foot tidal wave that knocks her over on her final voyage from New York to Greece.
Featuring impressive special effects for its time and excellent performances from its cast, the movie manages to rise above a trite script and corny dialogue as they travel through an upside-down world, into the bowels of the ship in the hope of rescue from above.
Perhaps the main attraction of this movie is the sets, which effectively create a world turned on its head that leaves passengers walking on the ceilings of a maze of passageways and falling into what was just seconds before the roof of a giant ballroom. The movie proved to be a smash hit in 1972 and itself garnered nine Oscar nominations.
The movie was previously released on DVD as a relatively bare-bones effort, an oversight which has been corrected here in what is a virtual embarrassment of riches for those of us who love to scour through the special features of those shiny discs. Alongside two audio commentaries, one featuring director Ronald Neame and a second with cast members Pamela Sue Martin, Stella Stevens and Carol Lynley are ten all-new featurettes that include a retrospective by the cast and crew and the AMC Backstory that looked behind the making of the movie. The longest of these short documentaries by far is the Backstory presentation that clocks in just short of a half-hour at 25:08 and details not just the fight by Allen to bring the novel to the screen, but also on-camera interviews with the likes of Roddy McDowell, Sheila Metthews Allen and Stella Stevens.
Fox apparently was reluctant to finance the $5 million picture and tried to kill the movie even after work had started on it. It was up to Allen to raise half of the budget, something he managed when he interrupted two rich friends playing cards at the neighboring country club who said "Yes, but let us get back to the game." The two men subsequently became even more wealthy.
The shortest documentary "Turning over the ship" on the effects shots in the picture is a mere 2:26.
The other documentaries cover such elements as the song "The Morning After," the religious themes of the movie, how some of the scenes were created and a featurette, which this DVD shares with "The Towering Inferno," on writer Stirling Sillipant.
Even given its short length at 6:27 is the featurette "The R.M.S. Queen Mary" which gives a fascinating history of the liner which served not only as a location for exterior shots of the "Poseidon" and the design of the ship, but also in the genesis of the idea for the novel. Apparently Gallico had taken a trip on the Queen Mary in the 1950s when it had been hit by a large wave. Tilting slightly plates and glasses went flying until the ship righted itself. Years later as Gallico sat down to write a novel the memory came back to him.
Perhaps the most famous shot of the movie is of the character Terry falling from a table into the glass ceiling below. This stunt was performed by actor Ernie Osatti, who was asked to do it so the movie could say that a number of the stunts had been performed by the actors themselves. This is recounted by Osatti in the 4:09 documentary "Falling up with Ernie."
Of the two commentaries the solo effort by Neame is the most involving with the director commending his cast for spending virtually an entire movie being "damped down" with hoses before practically every shot. Neame also reveals that he was "terrified" when he heard that Gallico would be seeing the movie because he had not stayed faithful to the novel, but was relieved to find out that the novelist loved the film.
Neame also explained the use of the "title" on the front of the movie which would seem to a casual observer to be a spoiler. As the movie opens we learn from a blurb on the screen that "only a handful of survivors" made it through the capsized ship. As Neame tells us, this was included as a means of holding the audiences attention through the first 20 minutes of the picture as we are introduced to the impressive cast with the audience trying to figure out who will survive.
The second cast commentary by Martin, Stevens and Lynley has, strangely enough, more periods of silence as the three seem to become involved in watching the movie unfold. It is also more anecdotal in nature. Stevens, for example, recounts getting into trouble recently for having her picture taken with the model of the ship (which apparently is on display at the maritime museum in Long Beach, Calif.), until it was learned she had appeared in the movie.
The three also talk about the casting and even mention how they had expressed an interest in making cameo appearances in the new movie, a notion which was met with no enthusiasm by the studio.
Perhaps the most interesting special feature is also the most unusual, an interactive feature that allows the viewer to follow the escape through schematics of the ship as they watch the movie. With a boat graphic in the lower right corner of the picture as a prompt, a screen comes up that shows the viewer where the survivors are, the path they took to get there and who is left. The schematic is based (as the movie and book were also) on the R.M.S Queen Mary.
Rounding out the DVD is a 10-minute archival 1972 promotional feature on the movie, two teaser trailers and the theatrical trailer, three storyboard comparisons and the transcription of an article that appeared in an edition of "American Cinematographer" with selectable images that take the viewer to image galleries.
94 of 108 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2000
20th Century Fox missed the boat on this one. This movie holds up remarkably well considering most of the dialogue seems a bit dated now. Shelley Winters gives a good solid performance of the grandmother on the way to see her grandson in Israel. Hackman is a rebel priest, and Stella Stevens is the hooker made good by marrying cop Ernest Borgnine. Everyone is having a good time until disaster strikes. The special effects of the capsizing of the Poseidon were unsurpassed until Star Wars came along - and even then Lucas wasn't turning over a boat load of passengers. The grand piano crashing through mid air still gives me stomach pains. Yes, they don't compare to James Cameron's Titanic, but remember - they didn't have digital/computer technology back then. I still don't know how they did it. Which leads me to my next point.
The real disaster is the treatment Fox gave the DVD. I didn't wait all these years for DVD technology to hear Dolby mono. The movie was originally released in stereo. Hearing all those screaming people from my center speaker doesn't cut it. Hearing John William's fine score, and the Academy Award winning "The Morning After" in mono is a real disappointment. I know there was a 'making of' documentary produced around the time the film was made. Why isn't it on the DVD? Why didn't we get a commentary track from some of the special effects wizards, cast, or director. They can't all be dead. Again, we waited for years for this to be released in a digital format, but my recommendation is to stick with the VHS version. At least that is in stereo.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2006
I first saw Poseidon Adventure on Christmas Eve 1972. I was nine and my brother was almost twelve. I vividly remember calling the theater and, because it was rated PG, asking the lady if my brother and I had to have an adult with us in order to see it! Well, needless to say, my 9-year-old eyes had never seen anything like it and to this day the movie has a certain hold on me. I bought the special edition dvd the day it came out. I watched it four times the first two days. Both commentaries are great but I think I like the commentary by Stella Stevens, Carol Lynley and Pamela Sue Martin a little better than the director's. It's fun to listen to the three ladies reminisce and laugh together. I have seen the new movie and I like it, probably because I like the premise of the story. It's just a very different take on the same premise. Poseidon Adventure will always be among my favorite movies.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2012
If you are a fan of the movie, this Blu-ray is a must-have. The widescreen picture is crisp and clear with no fuzziness, and the underwater swimming scenes look especially good in hi-def. The audio is clean with no hiss at all.
There are more extras than you can shake a stick at:
Commentary by director Ronald Neame
Commentary by Pamela Sue Martin, Stella Stevens, and Carol Lynley
Hollywood Backstories episode with nice behind-the-scenes footage
The Cast Looks Back
Falling Up with Ernie
The Writer: Stirling Silliphant
The Heroes of The Poseidon
The Morning After Story
R.M.S. Queen Mary
Conversations with Ronald Neame
Marketing and publicity galleries
Original 1972 Featurette
Trailer and Teaser Trailer
Wow! That's a lot of stuff to watch. I watched a lot of the extras - my favorites were the Hollywood Backstories episode (about 25 minutes long) and also some of the more recent interviews with cast members.
I purchased the disc at Wal-Mart for under thirteen dollars. At the time of this review, it looks like that is the only place that sells this Blu-ray based on the packaging sticker, which read "Only at Wal-Mart."
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2001
I think I like this a lot BETTER than that "other boat movie", which is strange, because you'd think it would get COOLER in 20+ years. The reason is simply this: Poseidon Adv. doesn't piddle around with trying to make a romance out of a disaster. I think that in REAL life once Titanic hit, J. Dawson would be like "Nice dance, nice screw, ship wrecked, screw you." Of course, that's just me, and anyone else who's being honest. A lot of people 21 and under probably saw Titanic, not this. I suggest they give it a look.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
One of the best, and one the most well-known disaster films ever, the Poseidon Adventure is the story of a small group of survivors trapped in a capsized luxury ship. The film follows their struggle to survive, and persevere in an unusual and extremely dangerous situation. The story, based on Paul Gallico's novel, features a wonderful all-star cast, headed by Gene Hackman, and Ernest Borgnine, with Shelley Winters, Roddy McDowall, Red Buttons, Stella Stevens, Jack Albertson, Carol Lynley, Pamela Sue Martin, Eric Shea and Leslie Nielsen.
It is New Years day, just after midnight, when a huge wave strikes the USS Poseidon, twisting the huge cruise ship, and leaving it upside down in the water. Inside, the passengers and crew, who had been joyously celebrating the New Year, are suddenly facing a deadly situation. Emerging from the crowd trapped in the ship's dining room, is Reverend Scott (Gene Hackman), who spearheads the effort to climb "up", towards the bottom of the ship. A small group of survivors join the Reverend in the journey. The movie focuses on their adventures, as they slowly make their way through the bowels of the ship, searching for a safe route to the "top", staying just ahead of the rising water. As we follow along, we learn much about the survivors as people. The characters become defined, and we come to have strong feelings about many of them.
Reverend Scott, is constantly challenged by Rogo (Borgnine), a police officer with his own ideas of what they should be doing. The tension between the two men, keeps the atmosphere edgy. The group endures much, and overcomes even more, in their perilous journey. They struggle on, through hell and hardship, because as Scott says, "...life always matters very much". Although not everyone will make it to the end, the survivors never give up. As long as there is life, there is hope. This is the theme of the memorable Oscar winning song, "The Morning After". John Williams' powerful score, earned him an Academy Award nomination too.
Shelly Winters was nominated for an Academy Award as well, and the film has many other fine performances. Hackman, and Borgnine are marvelous, their clash of wills, creates sparks on the screen. Roddy McDowell is very good, in an understated but brief role as a steward. Jack Albertson was never better, and Pamela Sue Martin, TV's Nancy Drew, makes her film debut. If you have not seen this before, you have missed a real classic.
As to the DVD itself, the widescreen presentation is without any extras, except for a trailer and skimpy cast bios. Most regrettable, in light of the recent "Backstory" feature on A&E about this movie, which detailed Irwin Allen's efforts to bring this story to the screen. Catch this feature too, for some interesting background information. There is so much more, that could have been done, to honor this film, and the wonderful cast that worked on it so hard. Good or bad, the success of this film, and films like Airport (1970), helped launch the 70's wave of disaster films. Irwin Allen, would follow up himself with The Towering Inferno (1974). A few years later, there would be an inferior Poseidon sequel, "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure".
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2004
"The Poseidon Adventure" (1972) is a terrific thriller which ushered in the era of '70's disaster movies which reached its zenith with the thrilling "The Towering Inferno" (1974). Actually, it's a tossup among fans over which is better. My vote goes to the latter, but this Irwin Allen-produced gem is a close second.
There's no use regurgitating the plot, since everyone knows it involves a capsized luxury liner. The real joy here is the cast, which includes Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Stella Stevens, Jack Albertson, Shelly Winters, Carol Lynley, Red Buttons, Roddy MacDowell, Eric Shea, Pamela Sue Martin, Arthur O'Connell, and, in a serious cameo, Leslie Neilsen as the ship's ill-fated captain. Winters got the Oscar nomination for her touching work as a matronly Jewish grandmother, but the real knockout performances here are by Stevens in a very funny, scene stealing scorcher of a turn as a foul-mouthed ex-hooker, Borgnine as her bitter, pessimistic policeman husband, and especially Hackman as a nearly insane, defrocked minister who doesn't believe in prayer and has a adversarial relationship with God. In fact, while some find Hackman over-the-top, this is one of my all-time screen performances and shows what a great actor can do with unusual material. (In a word, he rules.) Albertson is also very touching as Winter's husband, and Buttons scores solidly as a lonely bachelor who falls in love with Lynley, who is mourning her brother's death. Actually, the only weak link in the cast is young Shea, who is unbearably obnoxious as pre-teen Robin Shelby, who at one point gets lost in the ship. Would that he stayed lost, viewers may find themselves saying.
The direction by Ronald Neame, the musical score, editing and photography are all stellar, and the Oscar-winning special effects still impress 30+ years later. They all more than make up for the by-the-numbers script, which Stirling Silliphant very loosely adapted from Paul Gallico's best seller. Silliphant's introductory scenes and initial character development are pretty lame, to say the least, but things pick up considerably after disaster strikes, and for once it's not that easy to figure out who will make it out alive and who won't. (Let's just say only the two Shelby kids seems safe bets.) Among the highlights: the spectacular capsizing sequence, the harrowing trip through the engine room, and the final fifteen minutes, which are almost unbearably suspenseful. In fact, the film never bores and maintains an admirable amount of suspense for nearly 90 of its 115 minutes.
In all, "The Poseidon Adventure" remains a terrific spectacle and companion piece to the superior "The Towering Inferno." In fact, the two films make a great day-long double feature, especially on a rainy day. Even though Irwin Allen could not maintain the high standards of these two films, and followed them with awful offerings like "The Swarm" and "When Time Ran Out..." that gave the genre the bad name it maintains to this day, for these two films, he definitely earned the title "master of disaster." **** (out of *****) for the film; ** (out of *****) for the DVD, which like "The Towering Inferno" offers less special features than the special edition VHS version released several years ago. Maybe one day Stevens, Hackman, Borgnine and Winters will reunite for a cast commentary. One can only hope.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 1999
The first of the disaster movie cycle ("Airport" came first, but "Poseidon" set the mold), this one keeps you at the edge of your seat. Based on Paul Gallico's bestseller, "The Poseidon Adventure" pits regular people against the forces of nature when a tidal wave capsizes a luxury liner on New Year's Eve. The all-star cast is great from Gene Hackman's fiery minister to Stalla Stevens bitchy beauty. The real stand-out in Shelley Winters(nominated Best Suppporting Actress)as a loving grandmother who is forced to test her strength and her courage to escape the watery tomb. The plot does occasionally drag and the characters are far-fetched, but for pure Hollywood escapism this Oscar-winner is one of the best.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2001
I may be nine years old, but The Poseidon Adventure (1972) is a FANTASTIC MOVIE! A tidal wave (143 miles northwest of Crete), manages to flip a luxury liner upside down (this is based on the book by by Paul Gallico). Rev. Frank Scott (Gene Hackman), leads a New York cop (Ernest Borgnine), and his wife (Stella Stevens), a pop singer (Carol Lynley), a solemn "just there" guy (Red Buttons), an old man (Jack Albertson), and his wife (Shelley Winters;who fears a weight problem), a dining salon steward (Roddy McDowall), and a young girl (Pamela Sue Martin), and her brother (Eric Shea). And by the way...Leslie Nielson as the Captain? Great movie, though.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2003
To this day The Poseidon Adventure remains the undisputed high water mark (no pun intended) for the Disaster Movie craze. While Airport started it, it was really this Irwin Allen production, with its still potent mix of star power and grand spectacle, that got the genre off and running. Given the scale of the movie the over-the-top theatrics of the cast actually fit well and, no matter how many times I watch it, I still move to the edge of my seat, hoping that they make it to the bottom of the boat in time. For the price this DVD is a decent (and required) addition to the movie fans library, but it really deserves the Special Edition treatment (i.e. behind the scenes documentaries, commentaries, surviving cast interviews, etc.) and a remastered and (for those with 16 x 9 TV sets) anamorphic transfer. If you are fan of special effects movies in general or Disaster Movies in particular then you already know you need this in your collection. Highest recommendation.