Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Best New Year's Eve Adventure

Per multiple demands, here is a reprint of my New Year's Eve post from 2009. Enjoy the article and the film. Happy New Year!

Here it is. New Year's Eve, 2009. I am getting ready for the big celebration. No, not the clock striking midnight. My big celebration is watching the greatest New Year's Eve movie ever. The big moment in The Poseidon Adventure occurs just as the crew and passengers are celebrating the arrival of the new year. The S.S. Poseidon is overturned by a giant rogue wave just after the stroke of midnight. Not only does it become a new year, but it becomes a new, upside-down world for the people on board. Rev. Scott, played by Gene Hackman, must lead the band of lonely survivors from the ballroom to the engine room in the hopes of escaping this disaster. Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons, Roddy McDowall, Stella Stevens and Shelley Winters are among the group that attempts to "go up to the bottom" in an effort to escape. Winters received an academy award nomination for her work as the overweight, former swimming champ that saves the day. Who, if any of them, will survive?

This is the crowning achievement of the 1970's disaster movie movement. Irwin Allen, the king of disaster movies, produced and partially directed this film. Around my house it is called "cheesetastic!". The script and characters are exactly what you would expect. But once the ship overturns and the adventure begins I find myself rooted to the seat awaiting the next pitfall. The effects hold up quite well in our present world of cgi (computer generated images). Everything in The Poseidon Adventure is done with real people. The scene of the man falling through the glass ceiling is still a classic.

If you saw the film in a theater, especially back in 1972 when it was released, you may remember the entire audience leaning in their seats when the ship overturns. You know, of course, that leaning won't have any effect upon the move, but your body just leans anyway. It is that kind of shared experience that movies provide that is missing from sitting at home watching a DVD.

Filmed in 1972, directed by Ronald Neame, written by Stirling Silliphant, starring Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Stella Stevens, Roddy McDowall, Red Buttons, Pamela Sue Martin and Leslie Nielsen as "The Captain".

Does anyone remember the sequel 'Beyond the Poseidon Adventure'? Michael Caine and Sally Field? No. I didn't think so.

Monday, December 29, 2014


Glenn Ford is an under-rated actor. His work includes some great films like the original 3:10 to Yuma, The Courtship of Eddie's Father
and Blackboard Jungle I think he would receive more recognition. One of his best is the original Ransom. Remade by director Ron Howard with Mel Gibson, this original version is a drama that focuses upon tension instead of action to hold the viewers attention. And hold our attention it does. With only a small cast featuring Donna Reed and Leslie Nielson, as a dramatic not comedic actor, the story centers on the kidnapping of Ford and Reed's son. The film uses intense dialogue and strong acting to build the tension throughout. I will not reveal the intense ending.

What makes 1956s Ransom different, and better, than most kidnapping dramas is the plot twist. Instead of paying the kidnappers for the return of his son, Ford puts out a bounty upon them. He does this without informing anyone in advance. Not the police, the media, not even his wife. Most of all she is unhappy with his brash plan. The story continues with Ford racked with guilt and second guesses about his decision. His wife, portrayed by Donna Reed, is tormented with concern. Nielson does a fine job as a reporter trying to cover the story and help this poor, pressured couple.

A top-notch cast with an intense script allows director Alex Segal to use a very light hand. Minimal direction, sets and music forces the drama to take center stage. Segal made his career doing television and this theatrical release has a feel of tv. Still cameras that follow the action instead of trying to make the action. Personally I prefer this style. Ransomis a simple film with terrific action and intense drama. Enjoy!

Filmed in 1956, Directed by Alex Segal, starring Glenn Ford, Donna Reed and Leslie Nielsen (making his film debut.)