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Monday, August 13, 2012

Disaster Feature #2 - The Poseidon Adventure

A few days ago, I went on a tourist boat around the famed Thousand Islands region where I grew up, and I really had a great time.  It was great seeing all of the wonderful scenery, and just being a part of that atmosphere where everyone on the boat was just in a great mood. 

It really got me thinking about whether or not I would actually enjoy taking a vacation on a cruise ship. 

I believe that I would probably enjoy the experience of going on a cruise ship.  Aside from seeing such wonderful world treasures like the Caribbean nations, the Alaskan shoreline, or the Hawaiian islands, they are also a source of fantastic social interaction and tons of activities to do.

I’ve always said that I needed to improve my social life and add more connections to my social circle, and what better way to do that than going on a gigantic ocean liner with thousands of people on board? 

I’ve heard that the food on these cruises is outstanding, and talking to several people who have gone on extended cruises before, they tell me that they would do it again in a heartbeat.

Of course, when it comes to cruises, I’d ideally want to be on a cruise where people of all ages and backgrounds are present, and where there are a huge selection of activities to do other than shuffleboard.

(Though, I must admit, I don’t mind shuffleboard.)

Certainly, cruise ships can be a lot of fun, but there is also a bit of risk that is involved with them as well.  No method of transportation is one hundred per cent safe.  Even though cruise ships have been built sturdier and safer since the sinking of the “unsinkable” Titanic a century ago, there is always a slim chance that a disaster involving a cruise ship could occur.  One only needs to go back a few months in time to look at the January 13, 2012 sinking of the MS Costa Concordia in which the ship tipped over on its side following a crash involving the controversial actions of its captain.  Thirty people died in the accident, and two people still remain missing.

Of course, I’m not trying to scare you, or stop you from boarding another cruise ship.  These cruise ship accidents are not common.  I still want to go on a cruise ship one day myself.

But, I think that when I do make my reservations for a Caribbean cruise, I’ll make sure that the boat I go on doesn’t have the name “Poseidon” stamped anywhere on it.

And, since August is Disaster Movie Month in the Monday Matinee, I thought we’d talk about a movie that took place on a doomed cruise ship, as well as the struggle of the survivors to escape before the boat sank to the bottom of the ocean.

I’m talking about “The Poseidon Adventure”, the second of four disaster themed movie entries for August.

Note that I said “The Poseidon Adventure” and not the lame 2005 remake known as “Poseidon”.  Although those people who I watched the movie with seemed to cheer when Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas drowned in that film...

...what sick people I know, huh?  J

No, we’re going back in time forty years to talk about the original film.  Released in theatres on December 12, 1972, the film boasted a lot of well-known stars.  Ernest Borgnine, Gene Hackman, Jack Albertson, Shelley Winters, Red Buttons, Carol Lynley, Stella Stevens, Roddy McDowell, Pamela Sue Martin, and Leslie Nielsen all had roles in the movie.  Ronald Neame directed it, Irwin Allen produced it, and the story was based on the best-selling book of the same name by author Paul Gallico.

The movie itself made $93 million at the box office, on a budget of $5 million, and the film was nominated for several awards, winning two Academy Awards for Visual Effects and Best Original Song, which can be heard below.

ARTIST:  Maureen McGovern
SONG:  The Morning After
ALBUM:  The Morning After

The individual actors in the film also received recognition.  Gene Hackman won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in 1973, and Shelley Winters ended up winning a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress (and was nominated for an Academy Award and a BAFTA).

That’s all the behind the scenes info that I have regarding “The Poseidon Adventure”.  Now let’s talk plot.

It’s New Years Eve, and the SS Poseidon has set sail across the Atlantic Ocean between New York City and Athens, Greece on what is to be its final voyage.  The ocean liner is scheduled to be scrapped upon arrival in Greece, and despite fear for the ship’s safety from the captain (Nielsen), Mr. Linarcos (a representative for the new owner of the SS Poseidon) insists on full speed ahead towards its final destination.

Inside, a New Years Eve party is happening in the main dining room of the ship.  The partygoers include Detective Lieutenant Mike Rogo (Borgnine), his wife Linda (Stevens), and Reverend Frank Scott (Hackman).

Other passengers include the sister/brother duo of Susan and Robin Shelby (Martin and Eric Shea) who are on the boat to meet up with their parents, Manny and Belle Rosen (Albertson and Winters) who are on their way to  meet their new grandson in Israel, James Martin (Buttons), a haberdasher who reeks of bachelorhood, and Nonnie Perry (Lynley), the ship’s lounge singer who is performing at the New Years Eve party.

What the doomed passengers are unaware of is that a massive earthquake has taken place underneath the ocean floor, just a few hundred miles away from where the boat is situated.  The captain receives word that the earthquake has happened, and a huge tidal wave has been sighted just outside of Crete.  Realizing that a tidal wave of such mass could do serious damage to the ocean liner, the captain tries his best to steer the boat away from the danger zone while issuing a mayday warning.

Unfortunately, there wouldn’t be much of a movie had the boat gotten away without a scratch, so naturally, the wave makes a direct hit on the SS Poseidon.  I was unable to find a decent clip of the actual wave sinking the boat (all results pointed to the 2005 version instead).  However, looking at the film’s official trailer, there are some decent scenes that will give you an idea as to how scared the people on the ship much have been when the wave hit.  Take a look.

The wave causes terrible damage.  The captain, his crew, and Mr. Linarcos are killed instantly as water floods the ship, and because of damage caused to the ballast of the ship, the ship completely flips upside down, sending passengers flying through the air.  Many passengers are killed upon the first impact.  Some would say that they were the lucky ones.

With assistance from a waiter named Acres (McDowell), the Rosens, the Rogos, the Shelby siblings, Nonnie, and Martin devise a plan using a gigantic Christmas tree as a ladder to try and escape the now upside-down dining room.  But shortly after that plan goes into motion, the boat is rocked by a series of explosions, and it quickly becomes a race against time to get out alive.

I really don’t want to go into too much more detail about the plot, because I really don’t want to spoil anything for you.  It’s one of those movies that you really have to see for yourself.  But I can offer you a few cryptic clues about how the film is resolved.

-         The final escape involves the propeller shaft room.

-         Shelley Winters definitely deserved every single one of those acting nominations, as her story arc is especially sad.

-         Of the main characters that are featured in the movie, no more than six get out alive.  Which six are they?  I’ll never tell.

-         There’s a lot of swimming involved in the escape efforts.

And that is our look at “The Poseidon Adventure”.  But even watching a movie like this won’t deter me from boarding a cruise ship.  Life should not be about living in should be about enjoying yourself.  If my time on this Earth should end on a cruise ship, then that is what is meant to be.  If not though, then I’ll have the time of my life regardless.

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