Released in 1972, The Poseidon Adventure helped launch the disaster film genre that dominated the decade. It was a brilliant idea really, bring together an ensemble cast of veteran actors — including Ernest Borgnine, Gene Hackman, Shelley Winters, Red Buttons, Roddy McDowall, Jack Albertson, and Leslie Nielsen — and thrust them into a life or death adventure. (The film’s marketing department knew early on that seeing which stars would live until the end credits would be a huge draw for the flick, thus the movie poster’s infamous tagline “who will survive in one of the greatest escape adventures ever!) The plot itself is very simple: A New Year’s Eve party on a luxury ocean liner is literally turned upside-down when a tidal wave capsizes the ship. Led by a determined preacher (Gene Hackman at his world-weary best), a small group of survivors attempts to escape by making their way up to the bottom of the boat, in the hope that it hasn’t been completely submerged. What producer Irwin Allen (who later brought us the equally excellent The Towering Inferno) did so right here was creating a mix of memorable characters, campy elements (“my Linda!”) and solid action sequences to create a film that not only helped define the 1970s but remains a high point in the history of cinema.
This post is being reprinted in honor of our ongoing tenth anniversary celebrations.