If it hadn't been for The Poseidon Adventure, I would never have become such a fan of disaster films. Oh, some may call several of them corny and ridiculous, but before The Poseidon Adventure, had we ever taken such a journey with an audience at our side watching a group of survivors fight so hard for their lives from a disaster? Universal's Airport is usually credited with starting the disaster film genre, but there had been films as early as the 1930's about fires, ships sinking, food poisoning on airliners and other tragedies. None had as much impact on an audience as The Poseidon Adventure. It became so popular worldwide that studios rushed into their own versions of the genre. Most successful was (again) 20th Century Fox (and Warner Brothers) with "The Towering Inferno." But while Leonard Maltin may give the film "Earthquake" a bomb rating, I rate it quite high (and loved its Academy Award Winning "Sensurround" sound system), as I do all the Airport sequels, Meteor, The Swarm, When Time Ran Out, Avalanche, Tidal Wave and the even more recent Dante's Peak, Volcano and The Day After Tomorrow. These movies, as I watch them, exemplify the meaning of courage and how strong love can be and what we will do to fight for it. And, sometimes, they just make us realize that our own lives really aren't so bad, should we feel down. Hopefully more of the genre will make it to Blu-ray, but in the meantime, we have The Poseidon Adventure on Blu-ray.
I spent the last three months compiling all of the information you are about to read. And I worked with the studio, collectors and film libraries and colleges of film to obtain some of the graphics you are about to see. I hope you enjoy this "journey" on the making of The Poseidon Adventure. And don't forget, most graphics can be enlarged simply by left-clicking on most graphics. Enjoy your voyage!
In order to better understand just what hits The Poseidon, we must understand what exactly a rogue wave is. Rogue waves (also known as freak waves, monster waves, killer waves, extreme waves, and abnormal waves) are relatively large and spontaneous ocean surface waves that occur far out at sea, and are a threat even to large ships and ocean liners. They are more precisely defined as waves whose height is more than twice the significant wave height (SWH), which is itself defined as the mean of the largest third of waves in a wave record. Therefore rogue waves are not necessarily the biggest waves found at sea; they are surprisingly large waves for a given sea state.
The Norwegian Dawn, a 965-foot ocean liner , was sailing back to New York from the Bahamas on April 16 2005 when it was struck by a rogue 70-foot wave. The wave smashed windows and sent furniture flying, but the ship survived and the crew lived to record the wave's arrival.
Rogue waves seem not to have a single distinct cause, but occur where physical factors such as earthquakes under the sea, high winds and strong currents cause waves to merge to create a single exceptionally large wave. A research group at the Umeå University, Sweden in August 2006 showed that normal stochastic wind driven waves can suddenly give rise to monster waves. The nonlinear evolution of the instabilities was investigated by means of direct simulations of the time-dependent system of nonlinear equations. It is this type of wave that would ultimately lead to the disaster in a story that fascinated audiences when 20th Century Fox released The Poseidon Adventure.
This wave had previously hit the Caledonian Star, its bridge windows were smashed by 30-meter (100-fott) wave in the South Atlantic
Animation and visual effects studio Keyframe Digital Productions recently completed VFX work for Discovery Channel's two-hour television movie "Deadliest Sea." depicting this rogue wave.
The novel, "The Poseidon Adventure," written by Paul Gallico, was published in 1969. The story was inspired by a trip he took on the R.M.S. Queen Mary ocean liner in 1937, during which the ship turned on its side in high waves. He went through extensive research to make sure that his story could actually happen. The film is very similar to the novel, except that several characters were excised from the book when the screenplay was written. There was a character named Susan Shelby who was raped, a relative (Robin Shelby) who dies, and a Reverend Scott who commits suicide.
The Poseidon Adventure author Paul Gallico
Paul William Gallico was born July 26, 1897 in New York City. He graduated from Columbia University in 1919 and started as a sportswriter and editor for The New York Times after a successful interview with boxer Jack Dempsey. He became one of the highest paid sportswriters in America. His first book was about Lou Gehrig, and was later made into the film Pride of the Yankees with Gary Cooper and Teresa Wright. In the 1930's he abandoned sports writing for fiction, which was his dream career. He wrote "The Adventures of Hiram Holliday" and The Snow Goose. His short story, "The Man Who Hated People" was reworked into his book Love of Seven Dolls, which was adapted into the Oscar-winning motion picture Lili (1953), and later staged as a musical, Carnival! (1961). His 1958 novel "Mrs. Ares Goes to Paris" was adapted for television in 1992 when Hallmark made the film for a special "Hallmark Hall of Fame" special with Angela Lansbury. Gallico's 1969 book The Poseidon Adventure attracted little attention at the time. The New York Times gave it a one-paragraph review, noting that "Mr. Gallico collects a Grand Hotel [a reference to the 1930 Vicki Baum novel] full of shipboard dossiers. It wasn't until the film was released that the book became a bestseller. Gallico died on July 15, 1976, so in his last years was able to finally see the success of his novel.
Partial rare style poster
The Queen Mary
The film's story in no way resembles the history of Queen Mary but there is a certain remote parallel to the fate of her sister ship, Queen Elizabeth, a burned-out hulk lying at the bottom of Hong Kong harbor, to Queen Mary must surely be one of the more expensive sets ever to be used in a motion picture at the time. The City of Long Beach and private Investors spent $150,000,000 in acquiring, refurbishing and transforming her into a tourist attraction and convention center. Offhand, it might seem that the concept of a giant wave capsizing a liner of this size puts The Poseidon Adventure into the realm of fantasy. But many ships have been sunk by huge waves caused by submarine seismic disturbances. They are called tsunami (Japanese: port-wave) and such a disturbance in 1970 off Sanrlku, Japan, created a wave 93 feet high. The Queen Mary is only 85 feet from her waterline to the top of her superstructure. Thus, Improperly ballasted as Poseidon is in the story, a complete roll-over when struck on her beam is not impossible.
Maiden voyage of the Queen Mary on May 27th, 1936. Pictured: The British liner RMS Queen Mary in New York,June 20, 1945 and (below) departing from Southampton for the last time in 1967. It was retired from service in 1967 to become hotel / restaurant / museum at Long Beach, California.
The builders of Queen Mary had thought her size made her impervious to such a disaster, but in her first year of service, 1936, she rolled so badly in a storm that her passengers told newspaper reporters they felt sure she was going over. Her master, too, had in mind this possibility when, during World War II, he requested that the number of troops she carried be reduced from 15,000 to 10,000 during the winter months. Indeed, in the Fall, 1972, issue of The Saturday Evening Post, Paul Galileo writes of a stormy 1937 crossing in the Queen Mary during which she heeled so sharply that the sea seemed to pass just under the windows of the dining saloon. This gave Galileo the idea for The Poseidon Adventure, which he was not to activate for some 20 years.
The Hollywood reporter, in March 1969, announced that Avco Embassey had purchased the film rights to the book. Kent Productions was Irwin Allen's production company and it was announced in Variety that he had a three-picture deal with Avco, one of which would be The Poseidon Adventure, with a finished screenplay due by October 1969 and production starting soon after. But, unbeknown to Avco, Irwin Allen had already discussed the film with 20th Century Fox, but Fox had turned him down which is why he went to Avco Embassey. At the time Avco had named a new president, and he was against the film due not only to budget, he thought the story would just not be a boxoffice hit and would be very hard to reproduce realisticly on screen. This happened just weeks before shooting was scheduled to start.
Variety headline encompassing Irwin Allen's rise to fame.
Allen immediately persuaded Fox to provide half of the $5 million budget, then enlisted his friends Sherrill Corwin and Steve Broidy to match Fox's contribution. The film's first script was written by Wendell Mayes, but in Nov 1971, Hollywood trade papers noted that Stirling Silliphant had been hired as a writer. While the sources stated that Silliphant would rewrite the script completely, both he and Mayes received onscreen credit for the screenplay. The ship launched in 1934 as an ocean liner carrying up to 2,020 passengers. Upon its retirement in 1967 in Long Beach, CA, it was restored as a hotel and tourist attraction.
For the storm sequence, Neame mounted cameras on gyros to create the illusion of a swaying ship. The scenes that occur after the ship overturns were shot on the Fox lot, where Neame and production designer William Creber used historical photographs and plans to build near-exact replicas of various areas of the ship. The dining room was built right-side-up, some sections to be hoisted with a forklift so it tilted up to thirty degrees, then inverted once the pre-capcizing scenes were filmed flipped upside down. The filmmakers also constructed a miniature Queen Mary , measuring twenty-two feet long, that was photographed inside a studio tank. The replica now resides in the Los Angeles Maritime Museum in San Pedro, CA.
The sets for The Poseidon Adventure were completely unique in the long history of the motion picture industry. Because some of the pre-capsize sequences were shot aboard the Queen Mary at Long Beach, Calif., they were designed to her specifications, in many cases using her original blueprints in addition to photographs. They were the work of production designer William Creber, assistant art director Ward Preston and set decorator Raphael Bretton. As in all of producer Allen's productions, but made especially necessary by the bizarre quality of these sets, elaborate models were made and then sketches, in this case over a thousand, showing details of the sets, props, placement of actors and camera angles. Allen distributed these to all departments so that they would have visual as well as written instructions as to requirements. In no way absolutes, they also formed a chart for director Neame to sail as his judgment dictated.
Photos taken on the set
They were certainly instrumental in the fact that the film was brought in precisely two days under its 70-day schedule, something production experts thought would be a miracle. The question most frequently asked on any of the sets was on that of the Grand Saloon after the capsize. The tables remained fixed to what was now the ceiling and so did most of the chairs. In the sequence, eight stunt men and women cling to them, falling to their deaths, while Pamela Sue Martin is saved by an Improvised firemen's net. In the day of limited passenger experience on ocean liners, On the Queen Mary, the tables were bolted to the deck and in rough weather, the chairs were fixed with elasticord. Therefore, the tables and most of the chairs would remain in place after a rollover.
This set was an extremely ingenious piece of work. It was an exact duplicate of its prototype on the Queen Mary in everything but a few details of decor, one of which was a replica of a famous antique statue of the god, Poseidon, except for a slight alteration. The original is equipped with standard genitalia while a design preserves the modesty of the replica. This was not prudishness on the part of producer Allen, but the desire not to distract from important scenes played in front of the figure. So devised was this set that in sections, it could be tilted up to 30 degrees for the beginning of the roll-over sequence. Since it was used in both right-side-up and upside-down sequences, it was designed for speedy conversion: the ceiling being carpeted on its reverse side while the floor had the celling decor on its opposite end. It ultimately was rigged to hold water four feet deep for the sequence in which the sea bursts in to drown the multitude.
Photos taken on the set
The most spectacular set was the engine room. One of Red Buttons' sayings on the set was "Welcome to hell. "And hell it was: an appalling scene of lacerated steel, twisted pipes, dangling wires and girders, peeling dynamos, cliffs of turbine rotors, peaks and ravines made by shattered generators, onlyhalf loose from their foundations,and pouring forth their metal innards. Steam hisses from ruptured pipes and burning oil produced an eerie glow. Water rises menacingly from below. These are only a sample of what production designer Creber wrought and they were backed by some fantastically innovative work by A.D. Flowers, in charge of mechanical effects, and L.'B. "Billy" Abbott, specialist in photographic effects. Their contributions, however, fell into the category of what producer Allen called "movie magic," which remained a mystery. The Queen Mary, herself, was not the least of these extraordinary settings. The Poseidon Adventure was the first motion picture to be shot aboard this 81,000 ton super-liner and World War II heroine.
Produced in the classic style which made Hollywood the Film Capital of the world,The Poseidon Adventure is in the tradition of "Around The World In 80 Days," "The High And The Mighty," "Executive Suite," "Airport" and other great motion pictures of the "Grand Hotel" genre. Producer Irwin Allen, an Academy Award winner himself, assembled a distinguished cast including five other Oscar honorees: Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons, Shelley Winters, twice honored, and Jack Albertson. Other major talents include Carol Lynley, Roddy McDowall, Stella Stevens, Pamela Sue Martin, Arthur O'Connell, Eric Shea and Leslie Nielsen. There are 15 Academy Awards distributed among the cast and staff of The Poseidon Adventure.
Poster from Poland. Poster from Poland were always very different in style from the rest of the world, using more of a mod art style. This one is indeed one of those.
Ronald Neame, famed for his sensitive portrayals of human relationships ("The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie," "Tunes Of Glory," etc.) directed the film, whose essence is action. He had carefully identified his main characters and then submitted them to fantastic perils. Based on Paul Gallico's best-selling novel of the same name, The Poseidon (Po-si-dun: named after the Greek god of the oceans) is an 81,000 ton luxury liner making its last cruise from New York to a Greek ship-breaking yard after a long and illustrious career as "Queen of the Seas." Her new owners, in the interest of saving money, force the captain to drive her at unsafe speeds and, most importantly, reject his attempts to ballast her properly. During a gala New Year's Eve celebration, a monstrous wave strikes Poseidon abeam and capsizes her. The captain manages to radio a distress call, but immediately after, everyone in the superstructure of the upper decks is lost. In the main salon the effect is hardly less catastrophic, with dead and wounded everywhere. But the sea doesn't immediately enter, and there are uninjured survivors.
Production photographs using the ship model
What follows is the heroic and dramatic struggle of ten of these to make their way up through the explosion-wracked and rapidly sinking ship to the propeller housings where there is some chance of escape. They are led by the Reverend Frank Scott, a man of remarkable will and capabilities. The others are Manny and Belle Rosen, a couple in late middle age; Mike and Linda Rogo, he a tough detective and she a one-time prostitute; 18-year-old Susan Shelby and her 10-year-old brother, Robin; Nonnie Parry, a young singer; James Martin, a haberdasher; and Acres, a steward. With these varied backgrounds, they react differently under the terrible pressures imposed upon them and poignant relationships develop. Along their perilous way they will never be the same again.
More photos taken on the set
Some of the early portions of The Poseidon Adventure were shot aboard the Queen Mary, which was permanently docked at Long Beach, Calif., the first feature film ever to be made aboard her. However, the bulk of the film, the capsized part, was photographed at 20th Century-Fox studio on some of the most extraordinary sets ever created. The most spectacular perhaps was the inverted engine room, a mass of ruptured pipes, shattered generators and turbines, filled with steam and lit by burning oil. All this made The Poseidon Adventure an extremely physical film for the stars.
With their Academy Awards and other honors they might be expected to project the more subtle nuances of their art, which they did , but they also climbed high into the wreckage; swam under water; were wet most of the time and smeared with oil. They did these things themselves without resorting to doubles, perhaps inspired by director Neame who believed that good acting is as important to action as it is, say, to a love scene. An ending scene showing rescue boats surrounding the sinking ship was planned, but the budget ran out. The shot of the helicopter lifting off the hull was done on the 20th Century Fox studio lot, looking upward to avoid seeing the surrounding buildings.
Ronald Neame and Gordon Stulberg
Fox president Gordon Stulberg (who was responsible for the making of The Towering Inferno, Star Wars and The Paper Chase) brought director Ronald Neame on board, who gave a warning to all the cast and crew that, "Once this is over you are all going to hate my guts." A filmmaker known for his sensitive direction of intimate human dramas, Neame was still riding high on his recent success of "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie." He told Stulberg that he would come over from England for six weeks and see what could be done, because the Fox president wanted some balance between drama and the spectacle of Irwin Allen. Fox, at the time, had been through some very tough years. With the success of The Sound of Music Fox rushed to create three extremely high budgeted big screen musicals, "Star!," "Doctor Dolittle" and "Hello Dolly" all of which did not earn the studio profits but ate up the profits from the highly successful The Sound of Music and more. The studio chief Dennis Stanfield was looking to cut costs wherever possible.
Then Fox president Gordon Stulberg and Ronald Neame
In 1969, Irwin Allen was a major television producer. He had created the series "Lost in Space," "Land of the Giants" and "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea." These became extremely popular series as the young public craved science fiction, and it was just up Allen's alley. He loved fantasy, spectacle, and all of the special effects he could use at the time. To him, nothing was impossible to put on film. That was his attitude throughout his career.
Irwin Allen contemplating his next scene
Roddy McDowall said that, "He was like a kid. He just loved the spectacle and everything had to be big and bigger. But in 1969, Allen sought to return to his first love, feature films. He shopped bookstores for months reading hundreds of novels before he found the one that excited him from the first page, The Poseidon Adventure. Allen's wife, Sheila Mathews Allen (playing the ship's nurse), said that, "He loved this situation, which he called the 'Walter Mitty Syndrome'.Taking an ordinary person and putting them in an extraordinary situation and having them rise to overcome it."
Irwin Allen on location
Irwin Allen envision the picture as an all-star Hollywood epic with sensational effects, the best that could be created. But Fox was reluctant to finance the film because films much smaller and with cheaper budgets were now doing very well at the boxoffice, such as The Graduate, "The Paper Chase" and "Easy Rider." Those at the studio told him that there was no way he could do this story on screen. But Irwin convinced those at Fox that he could do it and do it well. After the project was green-lit, he ordered storyboards made for every single shot. He made sure that every penny to be spent was planned in advance. When it came time for casting, he decided not to use the biggest stars of the time (except for Gene Hackman), but seasoned veterans of film.
A very proud (as he should have been) Irwin Allen
One day, Fox studio chief Dennis Stanfield called Irwin Allen into his office, and told him he was canceling the movie. Allen pleaded but Stanfield said, "No it's being scrapped, thank you very much, goodbye." This after some of the sets had been built and the screenplay completed and money spent. Ernest Borgnine said that Irwin Allen went back to his office crying. But Allen refused to give up. He convinced the studio chief and the studio president to guarantee half of the budget and in exchange he would find the other $2.5 million. He went across the street to his country club and asked two men, Corwin and Broidy to loan him the money, and they instantly agreed. The success of The Poseidon Adventure represented a very personal triumph for Mr. Allen.
Stirling SillIphant and Wendall Mayes wrote the screenplay of The Poseidon Adventure. Silliphant was a former publicity executive who became a feature and television writer, winning an Oscar for "The Heat Of The Night." His scenario, "The Menorah Man," was being produced simultaneously with The Poseidon Adventure, and "The New Centurions," which he also wrote, werit into release in mid-1972. Tremendously prolific, Silliphant created and wrote for the "Longstreet" television series and had a new TV show called "Med-Ex" in preparation at the time The Poseidon Adventure was in production. In hiss background were the highly successful series, "Route 66" and "Naked City."
Third (and final) revision of the shooting script pages 1 and 2.
Wendall Mayes was a former actor who made his basic reputation as a writer for live television in New York. Billy Wilder brought
him to Hollywood to collaborate oh the script of "The Spirit Of St. Louis" and he went on to win the New York Critics Award and
an Academy nomination for Anatomy of a Murder
. He produced and wrote "Hotel" and his other credits include, "Von Ryan's Express," "Advise And Consent," "In Harm's Way," "The Revengers" and "The Enemy Below."
Few motion pictures at the time had been physically as trying to its actors as The Poseidon Adventure. The story, wracked with explosions and rapidly rising water, had the actors spending ten of the production's fourteen weeks in the same clothes, soaking wet and in a miasma of steam and smoke. The first four weeks, however, were glamor filled and both ends of the spectrum are on view. The picture was shot in sequence because the principals became dirtier and more tattered and suffered injuries, some for real and some through artifice. It would have been impossible to skip around without committing some anachronism in their appearance. Ordinarily stars of this stature would be expected to be projecting the more delicate nuances of their art, but that is precisely why producer Allen chose them for his film. "Our aim was to establish characters audiences would care about and then subject them to terrible stresses and dangers," he explained on the set. "If audiences achieve empathy with our protagonists, the perils they experience will be more deeply felt, will be more real."
Ad mat for newspaper use
The perils were real enough for the actors. They started with a climb up an artificial Christmas tree to a tiny platform 28 feet above the floor of the ship's dining saloon before an onrushing flood of sea water. In the ordinary movie this would have been done with stunt doubles with the stars appearing at the top from platforms erected to prevent them from falling. Not then or at any other time during production of The Poseidon Adventure were such stratagems employed. The stars themselves did the whole climb and all the rest of it. In all this the toll of injuries was relatively minor. Gene Hackman aggravated an old injury to his right knee, sustained years before in a motorcycle accident, and the joint had to be drained three times during the production. Ernest Borgnine strained ligaments in his back and wore a corset for part of the picture. Stella Stevens backed into a hot pipe and scorched her "derriere." Jack Albertson sustained a minor head laceration and Red Buttons suffered a cut on his back and left leg. That there were occasional bursts of temperament is not to be denied, but they were infrequent and brief and were lost in pervading conviction of all hands that The Poseidon Adventure was something important and good.
While stunt men had little to do in "doubling" the stars, there were more of these men and women used in The Poseidon Adventure than in any film in recent years, according to Paul Stader, stunt coordinator. Some of this came from stunt people demonstrating to the actors how they should handle hazards and then acting as "backup men" to see that nothing went wrong.The main employment came in such sequences as the one in which 120 persons who had failed to heed Hackman's plea to follow him to safety, are inundated and drowned in thousands of gallons of water. Incidentally, in this connection, it might be noted that The Poseidon Adventure is quite possibly the "wettest" production ever. It is estimated that over 3,500,000 gallons of water was poured into it.
"Coming Soon" poster
Designing clothes for the cast of The Poseidon Adventure was a traumatic experience for Paul Zastupnevich. Paul Z., as his co-workers called him, was required to design for both appearance and the development of character and then watch his art being destroyed bit by bit. A complication of Paul's problem was what would be practical as they, particularly the women, fought their way upward to the ship's keel and possible rescue? In consultation with producer Allen and director Ronald Neame it was considered and rejected that the ladies be reduced to their underwear. This, it was thought, might have a comedic effect destructive to the tension of the story. Zastupnevich resolved his problems in a variety of ingenious ways. For Stella Stevens he created a plain, bias cut gown of white champagne satin, "something Jean Harlow might have worn which teases but doesn't show all." He added that he merely "showcased" her natural endowments. Obviously impractical for climbing around the bowels of a ship, the gown is discarded by Stella and she adopts the shirt of her husband in the film, Ernest Borgnine.
Original costume sketches
For Shelley Winters, who gained 35 pounds for her role in The Poseidon Adventure, Paul came up with a taupe chiffon of cocktail length. Shelley wore it through the ordeal, since the fragile material would tear. Carol Lynley, as a singer in a folk group, was provided with an orange, long sleeved jersey tank shirt, with white velvet hot pants and a cape-coat with fringe.
Original costume sketches
For Pamela Sue Martin, Paul provided a frilly, white lace blouse, a long red velvet slit skirt and hot pants of the same material. Each costume had to be one in which there could be tears and rips and dirt and still at least much of the costume would have to survive. Over one hundred different costumes were tested before ten were picked. But for the New Years party scene, Paul Z would have more fun. "I was able to create some clothing for that scene that would have been worn by royalty, the rich, the screw and many other rtypes of passengers. I needed to come up with many different costumes that would be worn at such a celebration aboard a large cruiser. I decided the only way I could do this correctly was to take a sea voyage myself. It was there that I got a great many of my ideas.
Academy Award Winning Cast
Five members of the cast of The Poseidon Adventure won six Academy Awards, an honor which producer Allen, himself, had achieved. Because Gene Hackman won his "Best Actor" Oscar for The French Connection in the midst of production, it stirred discussion of this important event in all their lives. Hackman said that having been nominated twice before without winning, "I was prepared to be a loser again. I really hadn't thought about it much until the rehearsal before Awards night and then it all became very real and a certain amount of anxiety set in. Naturally, I was elated when my name was called." Ernest Borgnine, who won with "Marty" in 1955, recalled that he had gone to sleep on the afternoon of the Awards. "My wife woke me up," he recounted, and said, 'How can you sleep at a time like this?' I replied, 'I'm building up my strength so that I can cheer for Spencer Tracy!' Spencer, a dear man and a great actor, had been nominated that same year for- "Bad Day at Black Rock." In my mind there was no question but that he would win."
Cast publicity photographs
Shelley Winters, a double winner for "A Patch of Blue" and The Diaryof Anne Frank, almost captured an Oscar before either of these. "I was sure I'd win for "A Place In The Sun," and when Ronald Coleman, with whom I had done "A Double Life," came onstage, I thought, 'How sweet of them to have Ronnie present the Award to me' — I didn't know at the time that the presenter doesn't know the winner until he opens the envelope. To this day I swear I heard them call my name and was halfway up the aisle when my husband (Vittorio Gassman) tackled me." Red Buttons, who won for "Sayonara," said "no one ever really expects to win an Oscar. You look at the work of some of the other candidates and think, 'it just can't be.' I had seen Sessue Hayakawa in The Bridge on the River Kwai and thought he was a shoo-in! I was amazed and thrilled when called and then Lana Turner, the presenter, kissed me. I kind of forgot the Oscar. I had fallen in love."
Cast publicity still
Jack Albertson, winner for "The Subject Was Roses," was so sure he was out of contention that he was dozing when his name was announced. His wife jabbed him and he stumbled up to the stage not knowing what to say. His was the first acting Award to be presented that evening and his training in vaudeville came to his rescue. He said "This isn't the first time I've been an opening act." It brought down the house. Producer Irwin Allen, Oscar'd for "The Sea Around Us," had escorted actress Coleen Gray to the ceremonies. When it came time for his category he suddenly went deaf. "It was psychosomatic, I guess — I just didn't want to hear the bad news," he recalled. Miss Gray jabbed him and pointed to the stage. "I jumped as though my chair had been electrified," he said.
The final cast was not completely as intended. For instance, Petula Clark was offered the role of Nonnie Parry. Sally Kellerman had been offered the role of Linda Rogo (one can only imagine what the unique Kellerman would have done with that role). Gene Wilder was originally intended to play James Martin. Esther Williams was offered the role of Belle Rosen because of her former swimming roles for MGM. This was written in her autobiography. However, since the role called for a large woman, she was unwilling to gain the weight for the film (this fact remains disputed). And a bit of trivia: Milton Berle's brother was used as an extra in the New Years Eve dining room scene.
Limited engagement poster
Shelley Winters purposely gained 35 pounds for her role in The Poseidon Adventure. Shelley's weight was a major story point in the production in that she has to be pulled and shoved along with the little party of survivors attempting to escape from the capsized ocean liner. In the end she dramatically repays in full all that the others have done for her. Good food was one of Shelly's greatest pleasures and, in fact, she kept a rather tight rein on her appetite in normal times in order to hold her weight at 135. "So gaining weight for my art was no sacrifice," she reported. "I used to lie in bed and eat without a single pang of conscience." Another reason she felt guiltless was that the last time she did this for a role she won an Academy Award in The Diaryof Anne Frank.
Publicity still Shelly Winters
She later won another Academy Award without gaining for "A Patch of Blue." "But," Shelley said in an on-set interview, 'this is the last time. I'm not going to accept a weight condition for a part in a movie again. I didn't tell my doctor about it until it was done and he was furious; said it was bad for my general health. I went to a fat farm when this film finished and made the studio pay for it." The star said that if gaining was fun, losing is torture, "but when I get back to 135 I will maintain it without terrible strain through diet. Strangely enough, the weight gain didn't seem to restrict Shelley's agility and the film was an extremely demanding film physically. She climbed, crawled and swam underwater. Winters trained with an Olympic swim coach so that her character, who is a former award-winning swimmer, would come across more realistically in the underwater scenes. Everything in the picture is pure Shelley — no double. Shelly was never able to lose the extra weight completely.
Gene Hackman was named "Male Star of the Year" for 1972, by the National Association of Theatre Owners, announced by Roy B. White, president. The award was presented Nov. 21, as a highlight of the NATO convention in Miami, Fla The new honor gave Hackman a clean sweep of all the major awards for acting in the U.S. for the year. He had previously been deemed "Best Actor" at the Academy Awards; the New York Film Critics Awards and the Hollywood Foreign Correspondents Golden Globe Awards. Hackman's first starring film since receiving these kudos was The Poseidon Adventure. Appreciated by his fellow actors as a thorough going professional, Hackman had been nominated for Academy Awards from performances in Bonnie and Clyde and "I Never Sang For My Father," but neither achieved the Oscar.
The Poseidon Adventure publicity still
Gene Hackman won his Academy Award on April 10, 1972, exactly one week after he had started work in Irwin Allen's production. Not as well known as most previous "best actors" he was "fresh copy" to the press and therefore intensive media interest was added to pressures of starting a new film with people, not one of whom he had known previously. But he reacted gracefully. He said he thought he'd come along at the wrong time in the industry's history to reap the fabulous financial rewards considered to be part of the honor. He did hope that a little better selection of parts might result (it did) and admitted that some of the films he'd made were accepted because nothing better was in sight at the time. His first picture since being named "Best Actor" was The Poseidon Adventure. Hackman said he was glad to be in The Poseidon Adventure because he had not performed in one of those classic Hollywood movies "with big cast, big sets, big budget, big everything." He particularly liked the "big cast" aspect because "actors are usually held responsible for the final product and in The Poseidon Adventure about ten of us will share the praise or blame."
Rare alternate poster, signed by several cast members.
It wasn't me they came to see in Bonnie and Clyde, it was Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway," he observed. "Then 'I Never Sang For My Father' which I made with Melvin Douglas in 1970, for some reason was never a boxoffice success." Hackman was cautious about whether his eminence had made him what the industry called a "bankable star," a star whose presence in a film insures financial support of the project. "It's going to take a few more films to determine that," he insisted. "It's hard to think of myself in terms of ticket selling charisma when I've fantasized no further than being able to make a steady living as a character actor. It's lovely to be wanted and I've been around this business long enough to appreciate it. But one must analyze why: is it simply because I've been in a hot picture and some of the excitement rubbed off on me?" Human spirit despite his cautious protestations, it was apparent to Hackman's co-workers on The Poseidon Adventure that he was determined to reinforce the image that the Award had brought him. His role as an activist preacher had some of the same dynamism as he had in the character of "Popeye" Doyle, but on a much more elevated and cerebral plane. The Poseidon Adventure is an action picture as was The French Connection, but the former dealt with the unquenchable human spirit subjected to terrible trial rather than persons in conflict. Gene Hackman's brother Richard worked on The Poseidon Adventure as a stunt coordinator.
Lobby cards from the Mexican release
The first quarter of The Poseidon Adventure contains its full share of glamor, but the rest tells of the desperate effort of a handful of survivors to escape from an ocean liner turned-turtle. Creeping and climbing through a miasma of smoke, steam, fire and water wreaked havoc with their clothes and appearance generally. However, Stella Stevens was shown here doing what she could with her lips amidst otherwise total dishevelment. She had donned a man's shirt to free her from the restrictions of the long evening gown she was wearing at the time of disaster. A leading sex symbol for nearly a decade, Stella wanted to place her charms behind the camera, she wants to direct. She had worked on a screenplay, herself, for the past three years previous to the film. Of her role, she said that it was an honor to be among the cast that she worked with. "Even though the film took its toll on everyone because the work involved was so grilling and physical, we all bonded and I made some fine friends. It was an experience I won't forget." Later on one of the film's anniversaries, she claimed that she was "So glad that the film was so well received and remained so popular among new generations of fans."
The Poseidon Adventure publicity still, Stella Stevens
Red Buttons was an acrophobe. He found heights terrifying and yet starred in Irwin Allen's production in which he had to climb a duct forty feet above the floor and clamber around catwalks between twenty and thirty feet high. Fortunately for him, the actors were supposed to be scared to death. "I should win an Oscar," Red said on the set. "I doubt anybody has registered fright any better in the history of films." For a man with this problem, Buttons seemed to find himself up in the air a good deal of the time. "The Poseidon Adventure" was his third film with producer Allen, the other two being "Five Weeks in a Balloon" and "The Big Circus", both of which required aerial histrionics, in Red's case read "hysterics". Then in "The Longest Day" he was the paratrooper whose chute snags a church steeple and leaves him dangling 100 feet off the ground.
The Poseidon Adventure publicity still Red Buttons
Red said he had the compulsion to jump from high places and had never ridden in an aerial tram or an outside elevator in his life. So far he had resisted that impulse, "but I don't play the stock market for fear a drop might encourage me." Airplanes didn't bother him because the windows were fixed, "and, besides, I'm too busy watching the other passengers wondering which is the hijacker." "The kind of life I lead you'd think my only friends would be Willie Shoemaker and Mickey Rooney," Red said. "I think the reason I never grew any taller is because of my fear of heights." "The rest had to be watered down every few minutes," Red observed, "but I achieved the same effect, with cold sweat."
The central event in Irwin Allen's production is the capsizing of a famous ocean liner by a monstrous wave. After that the story deals with the desperate effort of a handful of survivors to escape. Ernest Borgnine, starred in the film, had a related experience during his 10 years of service in the U.S. Navy. "We were caught in a hurricane off the coast of Florida," Borgnine recalled. "Our ship was an old barkentine converted to Naval service and she was underpowered. The waves were coming from every direction anyway and finally one caught us on the beam and we heeled over 54 degrees, enough so that our crow's nest was thrust under water. "It seemed as though we stayed on our side forever and then, because the ship had been a sailing vessel and still had her keel, she started to right slowly and then another big wave piled on the keel and brought us upright. Everything in the ship that could break was broken. The Good Lord was looking after us and we made port without losing a man, but I don't need any convincing that what happens in 'The Poseidon Adventure' could happen."
In the film, Borgnine, a New York police detective, is married to Stella Stevens, a onetime prostitute he has arrested six times to keep her off the streets. They are a battling couple, largely because of Miss Stevens sensitivity to her past. Borgnine had won the Academy Award as Best Actor for the film Marty.
The Poseidon Adventure publicity still Ernest Borgnine
The name, Eric Shea, was hardly a household word, but all changed by the end of 1972.
His part comparable in length and, in many respects, in weight with those of other members of the cast. Eric portrays a precocious, inquisitive youngster (which he was in life) who learns a great deal about the ship, Poseidon, on which he is a passenger. This knowledge proves invaluable when the huge vessel is capsized and the survivors struggle to find safety.
The Poseidon Adventure was Eric's most ambitious and personally exciting experience to date. The sets in which about three quarters of the film was shot represented inverted sections of the ship, often filled with flame, smoke and steam. Eric swung around as though he were a particularly agile monkey. "I had a blast on the movie. This is what it's all about, man! I loved everything about making this movie. The people were all so nice to me, and I was always helping anyone who needed something, like bringing coffee or lunch when one of them was busy. It wasn't my job but I enjoyed it."
The Poseidon Adventure publicity still: Eric Shea
Pamela Sue Martin
Pamela Sue Martin, the ingenue of The Poseidon Adventure slid into movie making pretty much in the tradition of Lana Turner who, either in fact or fiction, was "discovered" at the soda fountain of a Hollywood drugstore. Without any dramatic training, experience or even ambition, she practically fell into the leading feminine role of Columbia's "To Find a Man," a modestly budgeted, New York produced picture which found an audience and the approval of most critics. On the basis of this first essay, producer Allen signed her for "The Poseidon Adventure." This second outing of the 19-year-old, grey-eyed brunette is a film produced in the classic style with a big cast, big sets, big budget, big everything. She then hoped it would be the next step in a Turner-sized career.
Publicity still: Pamela Sue Martin
Roddy McDowall & Carol Lynley
Roddy McDowall came from England to 20th Century-Fox in 1941, to star in "Man Hunt" and was graduated from the studio school in 1946. A reunion on "The Poseidon Adventure" set was that between McDowall and director Ronald Neame. Neame had directed Roddy in his first film, "Murder In The Family," produced in 1937 when Roddy was five. McDowall would later best be known for his continuing role as Cornelius and Caesar in the Planet of the ApesPlanet of the Apes films and television series for 20th Century Fox and for his extraordinary role in Fright Night for Columbia. Carol Lynley came to 20th Century-Fox for the film version of her New York hit, "Blue Denim." Although she had graduated from high school, Carol was still only 17, and anyone working on the lot from two weeks (the youngest age permitted) to 18 years-old must be supervised. Carol, however, was not required to attend classes.
Publicity stills Roddy McDowall and Carol Lynley
Arthur O'Connell is starred as the ship's chaplain in The Poseidon Adventure. O'Connell's role as a religious traditionalist of unspecified denomination is in contrast to that of a passenger-preacher, portrayed by Gene Hackman, who is a theological activist. O'Connell's approach was pretty well epitomized by "Blessed are the meek" and other Beatitudes, whereas Hackman appeared to be motivated by Ben Franklin's "God helps them who help themselves." The two men react to the various crises in the story in their divergent ways and to the diminishment of neither. "I had to contrast my role to Gene Hackman's to make a completely different character. Gene and I would meet many times and discuss all of the little things we could do to separate our character type. Gene was wonderful to work with and we both agreed on all of our discussions, and that ended up the way we played it." With two Academy Award nominations and a list of top screen, stage and television credits on his record, O'Connell was rated one of the best character actors in the theatrical profession.
Publicity still Arthur O'Connell
"Ah, the glamorous business of making movies," Jack Albertson sighed as he snaked off his soaking wet trousers neatly from under his capacious terry-cloth robe; a trick he had learned in his days in vaudeville and burlesque. Albertson had just emerged from a pool of oil and water on the set of The Poseidon Adventure. "When I first read the script, I thought, 'my double is going to make a lot of money on this picture—so, what happens? This director is making all of us actors do it ourselves," Albertson sighed, nodding towards director Ronald Neame. "We've been soaked, steamed and smoked from fires for weeks now. Los Angeles' smog is tonic when we leave this stage at night."
Publicity still Jack Albertson
Albertson had been a successful comedian for years on radio and Broadway when in 1952 he decided to take a crack at serious drama and was rewarded, among other things, with an Academy Award for "The Subject Was Roses." However, he was still a comedian at heart. "I've spent so much time in the water that I have a case of dishpan hands all over my body," he said. "I quit smoking a couple of months before we started this picture and suffered terrible withdrawal pangs. In the last month I've inhaled as much smoke as I would have taken from a carload of cigarettes. But a fellow has to keep a sense of humor." Towards this end Albertson said he'd love to specialize in drawing-room comedies, but added there aren't enough of them and he'll continue to risk life and limb in action dramas in order to earn an honest dollar. "Last year I did a 'Gunsmoke' in which I had to steal Jim Arness' horse," he recalled. "The horse was a dinosaur and Arness is a big man. The stirrups were about six feet below my feet. As we galloped along the horse turned left, but I didn't. I nearly re-ruptured myself. Par for the course. I enjoy myself," Albertson said after one of these sessions. "Life is too short to make issues out of everything." One role that Albertson became forever famous as grandfather to Charlie in Warner Brother's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Rare cast-signed publicity still
Music Score and Soundtrack
John Williams composed and conducted the score of "The Poseidon Adventure." He was a current holder of the Academy Award for his adaptation, of the score of Fiddler on the Roof and also an Emmy nominee for scoring "Heidi." He previously was so cited for his score of "Jane Eyre." Trained at UCLA and Juilliard, Williams started out professionally as a jazz pianist and composer, performing in concerts and recordings with most of America's foremost jazz artists. Since 1960, he had spored approximately 30 motion pictures, including "How To Steal A Million," "Diamond Head" and "The Cowboys. He also scored numerous major television presentations in addition to those named above. Williams had turned to the classical style of music and in 1972, his "Symphony No. I" enjoyed success when rendered by the London Symphony Orchestra. His "Essay For Strings" had been selected by the Rockefeller Foundation for performance at American universities. John Williams, shortly after working on this film, would go on to score a series of other disaster films such as The Towering Inferno and Earthquake. He would soon be discovered by Steven Spielberg for "Jaws" and the rest is history.
John Williams works on the score.
Among the Oscar nominations for the 1972 film was one for the score by John Williams, who had morphed from the "Johnny" Williams of 1960's jazz into a capable symphonic action composer by the time his collaboration with Allen reached the big screen. While having no association with the production of the famous song, "The Morning After," Williams incorporated Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn's popular "The Morning After" (performed by Renee Armand for the screen version but made famous by Maureen McGovern's single version) into some of his underscore where appropriate, creating a subtle but important link to the film's lasting musical identity. Regardless of Williams' soon-to-come reputation, however, casual observers tend to forget that his work here is largely atmospheric. His harsh, brass theme of epic proportions for the title is utilized often, but always in the context of a tumultuous rhythmic base. It stylistically resembles the title theme for The Towering Inferno, and also shares similar chord progressions with some of David Arnold's 1990s disaster themes.
Fox commissioned art conception of the film
But unlike The Towering Inferno, in which the title theme receives a glorious performance of optimism in technological advancement before the disaster strikes, Williams gives The Poseidon Adventure a doomed demeanor from the very start. Judging from Williams' earlier recorded versions of the "Main Title" cue, his inclination was to make the score even more dissonant and challenging that what the film eventually received. There is little setup time before the cruise ship is struck by a tidal wave and flipped, and the music that introduces the liner at the opening doesn't vary much from the troubled environment of the escape attempts during the rest of the film. Only a few source cues of light jazz in the main dining hall sequence interrupts Williams' perpetually gloomy string and brass rumblings in the deep layers of bass. Even the piano is tethered to these dark bass regions, often crashing to accentuate an orchestra hit or rambling without direction in the more tentative cues. The major effects sequence involving the rogue wave and the capsizing of the ship is scored counter-intuitively, utilizing high string whining, occasional groaning from brass, and intrigue from harp to function as another form of sound effects for the scene. As such, anyone looking blazing Williams action will be left very cold by this listening experience.
Different albums and CD discs that contained music from the film including La La Land's limited edition of 3,000 copies which sold out in days (top row, center).
The composer does excel at creating an atmosphere of dread, however, and no matter what qualms one might have about the score's grim personality, its effectiveness is rarely questioned. The nonstop environment of dread finally yields to a slightly more upbeat variation on the score's memorable, tumbling string rhythms in the finale cue, slowly building in E.T. fashion to cymbal crashing statement of triumph in the title theme (during the rescue scene) that remains the highlight of the score.
When you consider John Barry's scores of the era, the recordings of the 1970's, especially for soundtrack albums, were often worse than those of the 1960's, and The Poseidon Adventure is clear evidence of that misfortune. Contrary to original rumors, the 1998 album featured better sound quality than the bootleg, but still not satisfying by any means. Nevertheless, the three scores together sound equivalent in their muted qualities, and this shouldn't stop any ardent Williams fan from seeking the FSM album. Along with FSM's even more impressive release of The Towering Inferno, the limited The Poseidon Adventure edition of 3,000 copies disappeared within a short time and escalated in price on the secondary market in the years that followed.
Indeed, these two have proven to be FSM's most popular releases ever. As technology in the music mastering process matured over another decade, the opportunity to finally clean up the surviving stereo masters and make them suitable for another album release finally came. La-La Land Records presented this update of The Poseidon Adventure in another limited 3,000-copy run in 2010, also adding numerous alternative takes and the film versions of the song. More importantly, the entire score was offered in stereo.
On album, The Poseidon Adventure has suffered from sound quality and availability issues from the start. Since it's a score that relies upon textures, the former is a significant drawback. During "The Aftermath," for instance, it's difficult to tell if electronic clicking sounds in the background of the dissonant blanket of strings is an intended Williams effect or simply an artifact of the poor sound quality and the efforts to master the surviving tapes into a presentable form. A 40-minute bootleg was released in 1995 with all pertinent cues, and though its sound quality was horrendous, it remained the only available source of music from the film and sold for as much as $150 in the years that followed.
Japanese and Spanish posters
In 1998, the Film Score Monthly magazine was introducing its fledgling Silver Age Classics CD series to collectors, and after a somewhat lackluster opening entry with Stagecoach, FSM sent cheers through the crowd with a compilation of three John Williams scores of the early 1970's on their second entry. The selling point of the album was The Poseidon Adventure, with a source cue added to the bootleg material and the entire score transferred directly from the original tapes; unfortunately, only the mono backup recordings remained viable at that time for most cues. The album also features premier recordings of The Paper Chase and Conrack.
The Morning After
AL KASHA and JOEL HIRSCHHORN wrote "The Song From The Poseidon Adventure, sung by Carpi Lynley and used elsewhere in the film. Graduates of New York's Juilliard School of Music, they collaborated on both lyrics and music of their scores, not dividing these responsibilities as is usual in such partnerships. Their compositions have sold more than 25 million records performed by such diverse artists as Anthony Newley and Elvis Presley. They scored eight motion pictures at the time, including "The April Fools" and "The Cheyenne Social Club." Their television credits are numerous, including the score of "The Canterville Ghost." They also wrote the score of the stage presentation, "David Copperfield," which opened in London in 1973.
Maureen Mcgovern "The Morning After" LP, (bottom) U.K. release and original label.
The film's theme song was officially entitled "The Song from The Poseidon Adventure ," but became more widely known as "The Morning After." Although contemporary articles stated that Carol Lynley sang the song during the film, the voice heard was actually stand-in singer Renee Armand. A Jul 1973 HR article stated that Armand had turned down the opportunity to sing the single, which was released by Maureen McGovern simultaneously with the picture. After composers Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn won the Academy Award in the spring of 1973, it was re-released and became a number-one hit. Russ Reagen was then the president of 20th Century Fox records. After he heard the demo tape of "The Morning After," he found a young singer out of Dayton Ohio named Maureen McGovern. Russ heard her voice sight unseen and signed her to the 20th Century Fox records label. She immediately went into production with her first song which would be from the film, which was released at the same time as the movie. Maureen McGovern stated in an interview, "when the song won the Academy Award, radio stations across the country were playing it many times a day. By August of 1973 it was a gold record. It was incredible. Maureen McGovern would also record a song for The Towering Inferno, "We May Never Love Like This Again" that she herself sang in the movie.
Mad Magazine parody
And of course, Cracked Magazine followed.
William Creber, production designer, specialized in the more imaginative reaches of his art, having been art director on three "Planet Of The Apes" films and such science fiction television series as "Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea," "Lost In Space" and "Time Tunnel," the three latter having been produced by Irwin Allen. However, Creber hadn't confined himself to this area, having Served in similar capacity on "Justine," "Rio Conchos" and The Greatest Story Ever Told, for which he received an Academy Award nomination. Harold E. Stine, A.S.C., cinematographer, also performed this function on M*A*S*H, "Checka," "Caper Of The Golden Bulls" and "The Busybody." He won the Academy Award for special effects photography on "Mighty Joe Young."
Harfold F. Kress, A.C.E., film editor on "The Poseidon Adventure," was also a director. For years he was a top editor at MGM, going back to Mrs. Miniver" and up through a long list of distinguished films, including How the West was Won
, which brought him an Academy Award. Other films included "The Horseman" and "Stand Up And Be Counted." As a director, his films include "Painted Hills" and "No Questions Asked."
Newspaper headlines ran all over the world about the film
Irwin Allen was given a $5 million budget for the film. The movie was made in 35mm anamorphic Panavision with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It was released to selected theaters and played its premiere in 70mm (blow-up) with an aspect ratio of 2.20:1. The sound mix created for the film was a Magnetic 4-track stereo soundtrack for the 35mm prints (as well as mono prints) and 6-track stereo for the 70mm blow-up releases.
This is a rare letter to exhibitors that was stapled to a special very rare promotional manual for exhibitors
The first completely new movie theater in the Times Square area in 37 years, the 1445-seat National Theater opened on December 12, 1972, with the world premiere of The Poseidon Adventure, presented in 70mm. It had its Hollywood premiere at the Egyptian theater. Public shows began the following morning. Audiences loved the film! Audiences were lined up around the block at dozens of big city theaters to see what many audiences called "the most exciting, action-packed suspense movie in years."
Premiere at the National Theater (its first film upon opening) in New York.
On its opening weekend, the film brought in $264,850, a figure very good for its time. The Poseidon Adventure proved a critical success and was the top grossing film of 1972, at which point it had earned almost $100 million ($84 million in U.S. Take and additional moneys worldwide). Rentals in the U.S. Were $42 million. People from all over the world were going to see this incredible film. The picture's success initiated a spate of disaster films, many produced by Allen, and is considered to be one of the genre's finest. The film now ranks number 90 in the top domestic films of all time (adjusted for inflation). Boxoffice Magazine reported "The Poseidon Adventure" as the #1 Box Office Champ of 1973. By the end of 1974, it ranked among the six most successful features in film history.
Advertisement to exhibitors about the pre-premiere preview's success.
Special Netflix showing on the Queen Mary.
At the premiere of Poseidon at Grauman's Chinese Theater, among the guests at the Wednesday premiere after-party were three familiar faces from the original 1972 disaster classic: Red Buttons (James), 87, Carol Lynley (Non-nie), 64, and Pamela Sue Martin (Susan), 53. When a photographer asked Lynley and Martin to give Buttons a kiss, he humorously scolded, "No, I'm with my girlfriend (artist Jane Wooster Scott), and she's very jealous." Lynley offered a frisky explanation for why she was using a cane: "Too much sex."
Rare program handed out at the preview and premiere
When interviewed for USA Today, Pamela Sue Matrin said, "About Emmy Rossum's character. I told her tonight, 'You didn't have as much corny dialogue as we had.' And she said, 'We didn't have any dialogue.'" Carol Lynley told the newspaper, ""I think everything about our movie was better. I liked the score of our movie better. This film was so noisy. My character sang Morning After in the original, and I did like Fergie (of the Black Eyed Peas) singing in this. I'm a big fan of hers." When asked who in the original cast they missed the most, Lynley said "Shelley (Winters, who died in January). I went to her last birthday party (her 85th) in August. I said to her, 'If you were English, you'd be called Dame Shelley Winters.' And she said, 'Oh, I've been called a dame before.' " Pamela Sue Matrin replied, "Gene Hackman. I adopted him as my father figure for the four months we were filming. And then when it was over, I never saw him again."
Premiere at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood (and partial premiere ticket).
The Poseidon Adventure received high honors by many of the country's top reviewers from magazines and newspapers to radio and television. Variety noted in their December 31, 1971 issue that, "The Poseidon Adventure is a highly imaginative and lustily-produced meller that socks over the dramatic struggle of 10 passengers to save themselves after an ocean liner capsizes when struck by a mammoth tidal wave created by a submarine earthquake. The adaptation of the Paul Gallico novel plays up the tragic situation with a set of values which permits powerful action and building tension."
Poseidon Adventure was heavily merchandised
Set of character figures
In it's list of 12 disaster films better than James Cameron's Titanic, Time Magazine in April of 2010 named The Poseidon Adventure as the number one disaster film. The New York Times said, "Someone else's disaster is nearly always fascinating from a reassuring distance. And the maritime cataclysm in The Poseidon Adventure, which last night opened Broadway's newest showcase, the National Theater (the film is also at the Beekman), is that kind of comforting catastrophe. Most of us are happily far removed from the rare personal experience of having been trapped in a capsized liner. But though tensions slacken and credibility is strained here, realistic technical effects make the stricken ship and the efforts of its survivors to escape a fairly spellbinding adventure." Web site Rotten Tomatoes reported 79% of 24 critics gave the film a positive review, with an above average score of 6.8/10.
Survival certificate handed out to theater patrons.
The film received an Academy Award for Best Song and a Special Achievement Award in Visual Effects (L. B. Abbott and A. D. Flowers), as well as nominations for Best Supporting Actress (Winters), Art Direction (Creber and Raphael Bretton), Cinematography (Harold E. Stine), Costume Design (Paul Zastupnevich), Film Editing (Harold F. Kress), Sound (Theodore Soderberg and Herman Lewis) and Music, Original Dramatic Score (John Williams). It was nominated by the American Cinema Editors for their Eddie award, received 2 nominations from BAFTA (winning Best Actor for Gene Hackman and nominated for Best Supporting Actress (Shelly Winters). The Golden Globes were kind to the film, with four nominations: Best Motion Picture Drama, Best Original Score (John Williams), Best Original Song ("The Morning After") and Best Supporting Actress (which was a win for Shelly Winters). It also won the Motion Picture Sound Editor's Golden Reel Award for best sound editing.
This special newspaper (which had 4 large pages) was handed out to theater patrons prior to a theater's showing of the film to promote it.
The film has a large fan following and has had several fan clubs and internet sites devoted to it. In 1973, ABC purchased the television rights to the film for a first-time showing, they paid $3.2 million, a huge sum at the time, for only one showing.
Home releases of the film. Clockwise from top left: Super 8 home film version, View-Master set, VHS release, DVD release, DVD Special Edition, CED videodisc, Fox's original laserdisc, Widescreen laserdisc and the new Blu-ray release.
Sequels and Remakes
One sequel was produced in 1979 entitled Beyond the Poseidon Adventure starring Michael Caine, Telly Savalas, Peter Boyle, Jack Warden, Shirley Knight, Shirley Jones, Karl Malden, Slim Pickens and Angela Cartwright (Brigitta in The Sound of Music) and Sally Field. On the morning after the Poseidon's disastrous night, tugboat captain Michael Caine and sidekick Sally Field get back on board the Poseidon and find left-over survivors who were not drowned during the original movie, and then bad guy Telly Savalas puts them all in jeopardy The film followed a different group of survivors from the ship. Released on May 18, 1979, the film was a disaster at the boxoffice and received overall negative reviews.
Beyond the Poseidon Adventure
In addition, a TV movie produced by Hallmark Presentations called "The Poseidon Adventure" starred Adam Baldwin, Rutger Hauer and Steve Guttenberg was shown on network television on November 20, 2005. The plot-line was changed. A cruise ship succumbs to a terrorist act and capsizes on New Year's eve. A group of survivors, spearheaded by a priest and a homeland security agent, must journey through the upside down vessel and attempt an escape. The ship's captain was named Captain Gallico for writer Paul Gallico on whose novel the story is based The TV movie had one of the largest budgets ever for a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, costing $14 million. The movie was reviewed by some as a decent story, but nothing close to the original Irwin Allen film. The Hallmark remake is available on Blu-ray disc.
A remake, produced by Irwin Allen Productions and Warner Bros. was released entitled Poseidon, directed by Wolfgang Peterson. It was released on May 12, 2006 by Warner Brothers. The film was directed by Wolfgang Peterson and starred Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas and Richard Dreyfuss. The production budget for the film was a whopping $160 million. In the U.S., the film's gross (opening in 3,555 theaters) was $61 million (It was released in Imax format as well), but international grosses added $121 million, giving the film a $21 million profit, which of course was reduced by publicity and promotion. It's opening weekend in the United States took in $22 million. It was nominated for one Oscar, Best Visual Effects, competing with Superman Returns and the winner, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.
The 2006 remake.
In 2011, some of the cast members appeared for a reunion at The Hollywood Show. This is a yearly show in which stars of yesterday and today gather and the public is able to meet them and mingle. Many stars are more than happy to attend this show. The reunion was well attended due to the popularity of The Poseidon Adventure. This year the show will be held April 20, 21 and 22nd at the Burbank Airport Marriott & Convention Center, where it has taken place. Stars from such shows as The Brady Bunch, Partridge Family, The Monkees, plus motion pictures. This year most of the children from The Sound of Music will attend.
2011 reunion advertisement and photos.
The film has spawned many parties and celebrations. People have been known to have "Poseidon parties" and cruises. I was personally able to attend one of these that took place in 1982 in Minneapolis on New Year's Eve, in which everyone that attended was to be dressed as one of the characters. Kareoke was part of the party and they were all disaster themes and Maureen McGovern songs, such as "We May Never Love like This Again" which was another hit directly after The Poseidon Adventure from The Towering Inferno, produced and written by the same team. One such event is pictured below, in which the film was shown so that the midnight New Year's Eve celebration came at the same time as it did at the screening.
Music Box Theater New Year's celebration, with the filmed timed for the wave to hit at midnight.
The Poseidon Adventure was the first true disaster film following Airport that started a trend of epic-scale disaster films, and along with The Towering Inferno, still remains the most popular. The film and withstood the test of time, as video sales continue to be very profitable for 20th Century Fox in each format in which it was released. The tale of survivors provides audiences with hope and a sense of what working together can achieve. Irwin Allen, king of disaster films, had indeed achieved a remarkable film that has finally been well remastered for a quality Blu-ray release.
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All materials in this and other Silver Screen columns are copyright their respective studios, Blu-ray.com and the collection of Robert Siegel. Special thanks to 20th Century Fox for providing rare interviews and publicity photos incorporated into this essay and for background information on the films. Special thanks also to the Academy Library in Hollywood, The USC Cinematic Arts Library, The Irwin Allen Network (online-a great website), The Poseidon Adventure.com (an extensive website on the film), Mark Rubel-memorabilia collector and Richard Cyr. Many graphics on this page have been painstakingly corrected and cleaned, and are internet tracked. Please ask for permission to use any graphic by emailing email@example.com. This edition all artwork, publicity and production photos/drawings original copyright 20th Century Fox and are used for informative and promotional use.