The Poseidon Adventure

The Poseidon Adventure

Having made his mark in network television, producer Irwin Allen went on to become the undisputed leader of the disaster film genre. His first venture also became one of his most beloved, a tale of tragedy on the high seas in the 1972 blockbuster, The Poseidon Adventure.

After producing such hit television shows such as Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Lost in Space, Irwin Allen turned to a novel by author Paul Gallico that chronicled the tragedy and triumph that befalls a luxury ocean liner capsized by a huge tidal wave. Allen used all of the special effects wizardry of the day, and filled the film to the brim with A-list Hollywood stars, much like he would do with such future endeavors as Earthquake and The Towering Inferno.

The SS Poseidon is on its final voyage, headed from New York to Athens, where it is then to be retired. Along the route, while the passengers celebrate the ringing in of the New Year, a nearby tsunami triggers an enormous wave that overturns the aging ship and leaves the few survivors on board fighting desperately to find a way to escape the mortally wounded vessel.

Time is of the essence as water is quickly filling the ship and most of those that survived the initial event are not destined to make it out alive, thanks to a never-ending stream of deadly obstacles in their path. One-by-one they meet their unfortunate demise until only six are left to tell the tale of what occurred aboard the doomed Poseidon.

The cast of The Poseidon Adventure read like a who’s who list of major Hollywood celebrities, with such notables as Gene Hackman, Erneste Borgnine, Red Buttons, Roddy McDowell, Shelley Winters, Jack Albertson and future funnyman Leslie Nielson as Captain Harrison. Singer Maureen McGovern provided the title song, “The Morning After” which earned an Academy Award for best song and became a hit single. The film also earned another Oscar for Special Achievement in Visual Effects, as well as a nomination for Shelley Winters as Best Supporting Actress.

A sequel was released in 1979 called Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, but it failed to generate the same acclaim or popularity. Perhaps not surprisingly, The Poseidon Adventure was remade not only once, but twice – first as a made-for television movie in 2005, and then a mere year later in the theatrical release Poseidon. Unlike the bland reception given to the television special, the new film eventually grossed over $200 million.

For the purists, however, there will always only be one Poseidon Adventure – the original. Thanks to its claustrophobic and unceasing tension, along with a stellar cast, it remains perhaps the most beloved in the genre, a film that turned a television producer into the proclaimed “Master of Disaster.

If you consider yourself a fan of The Poseidon Adventure, we’d love to hear any of your thoughts and recollections of this classic disaster film in our comments section below.

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