Juggernaut (1974 film)
|Directed by||Richard Lester|
|Produced by||Richard Alan Simmons as Richard DeKoker|
|Written by||Richard Alan Simmons as Richard DeKoker
|Music by||Ken Thorne|
|Edited by||Antony Gibbs|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
Juggernaut is a 1974 British crime suspense film starring Richard Harris, Omar Sharif and Anthony Hopkins. The film, which was directed by Richard Lester, was largely shot on location on the TS Hamburg in the North Sea. It was inspired by a real events aboard the QE2 in May 1972 when Royal Marines from the Special Boat Service were parachuted on to the ship because of a bomb hoax.
In the film, Richard Harris leads a team of Naval bomb disposal experts sent to disarm several large barrel bombs that have been placed aboard an ocean liner crossing the North Atlantic. Meanwhile, ashore, the police race against time to track down the mysterious bomber who calls himself "Juggernaut."
The ocean liner SS Britannic is in the middle of a voyage in the North Atlantic with 1200 passengers on board when the shipping line's owner (Ian Holm) in London receives a telephone call from a man with an Irish accent styling himself as "Juggernaut", who claims to have placed seven barrels of amatol (high explosive) aboard the ship which are timed to explode and sink it at dawn on the following day. He warns that the barrels are booby-trapped and that any attempt to move them will result in detonation, and offers that technical instructions in how to render the bombs safe will be given in exchange on a ransom being paid to him of £500,000. As an indication of his seriousness he then sets off a demonstration attack with a series of small bombs on the ship's bridge, which injure one crewman. Unable to order an evacuation of the ship's passengers via lifeboats due to rough seas besetting it, the shipping line's management is inclined to yield to the ransom demand, however when the police are called in British government officials inform the company that if it does so they will withdraw the company's operating subsidy in line with the Government's policy of non-appeasement to blackmailed threats of violence.
Instead a Royal Navy officer, Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Fallon (Richard Harris), leading a bomb-disposal unit is dispatched, arriving on the scene by air transit and parachuting into the sea, with orders to board the ship and defuse the barrel-bombs before the deadline. Meanwhile, back in London Supt. McCleod (Anthony Hopkins), whose wife and two children happen to be holidaying on board the ship, leads Scotland Yard's investigation against the clock to capture the criminal master-bomber.
After an attempt to defuse one bomb by remote-controlled robot fails, setting it off and damaging the ship, Fallon decides to split up his team with each man working simultaneously on each of the remaining devices at different points around the ship, Fallon going first with each stage of the defusing operation and informing his men of each move by radio link, with the aim that if he fails and his bomb explodes, his men will know what went wrong and continue the process onwards, with his second in command taking up the lead, until the devices are disarmed. However, if two more bombs go off, the ship will sink. Fallon proceeds to disarm the bomb he is working on, apparently successfully, with his men following each step. However, it contains a hidden secondary mechanism and a sudden lurch in the ship due to the bad weather causes one of his men to trigger it, resulting in his death when it explodes, causing further damage to the ship. Fallon at this point abandons the operation and advises the Ship's Captain (Omar Sharif) to radio to the shipping-line to pay the ransom to avoid any more carnage, but has to continue after the British Government's refusal is received.
Meanwhile, an extensive police search back in London captures the bomber, who is revealed as an embittered former British military bomb-disposal officer, Sidney Buckland (Freddie Jones), and he's escorted to the police situation room. After interrogation, he agrees to tell Fallon - whom he knows personally, having trained him as a junior officer - by radio-link how to disarm the bombs as time is running out and the dawn detonation is fast approaching. However in doing so, after some hesitation when Fallon appeals for his clemency on the basis of their former comradeship, Buckland betrays him and his own chance for redemption, and gives fatally false direction. Fallon, sensing he's being misled, does the opposite of what he is told, thus rendering the device successfully inert in the film's climactic scene, the rest of the bomb-disposal unit swiftly follow his example, the ship and its passengers being saved.
- Richard Harris as Lieutenant Commander Anthony Fallon
- Omar Sharif as Captain Alex Brunel
- David Hemmings as Charlie Braddock
- Anthony Hopkins as Superintendent John McLeod
- Shirley Knight as Barbara Bannister
- Ian Holm as Nicholas Porter
- Clifton James as Corrigan
- Roy Kinnear as Ship's Social Director Curtain
- Caroline Mortimer as Susan McLeoad
- Mark Burns as Hollingsworth
- John Stride as Hughes
- Freddie Jones as Sidney Buckland
- Julian Glover as Commander Marder
- Cyril Cusack as O'Neil (uncredited)
- Jack Watson as Chief Engineer Mallicent
- Roshan Seth as Azad
- Kenneth Colley as Detective Brown
- Kenneth Cope as Bridgeman
- Ben Aris as The Walker
- John Bindon as Driscoll
- Tom Chadbon as Juggernaut's messenger
- Simon MacCorkindale as No.1 helmsman
Richard Alan Simmons' script was inspired by the real life attempted bomb hijack of the Queen Elizabeth II. The film was the second produced by David Picker after he left United Artists, following Lenny. Originally Bryan Forbes was to direct with Simmons producing and Richard Harris to star, with the film going to start in January 1974.
Bryan Forbes left the project, then Don Medford. Picker turned to Richard Lester, with whom he had made a number of films at United Artists. On taking over the film, Lester completely rewrote the script with writer Alan Plater.
The film's writer/producer, Richard Alan Simmons, was so unhappy with the reworked script that he had himself credited as Richard DeKoker on the finished film.
The film, which was produced by David V. Picker Productions, was shot mainly aboard the real cruise ship, TS Hamburg. The German vessel had recently been sold by the Black Sea Shipping Company to the Soviet Union and renamed TS Maxim Gorkiy. However before the Soviets began operating the ship for paying passengers, the British production company chartered the ship.
Advertisements were run in British papers, soliciting extras who would take a lengthy cruise in the North Sea for free, but with the knowledge that the ship would actually seek out the worst possible weather, as the story demanded seas too rough for the lifeboats to be lowered, trapping the passengers on board.
The ship's charter was negotiated at a set rate in February 1974, while oil prices were continuously skyrocketing due to the still-ongoing 1973 oil crisis. As a result, the Soviets, who paid the vessel's operating costs during filming, ended up losing money on the deal.
Some interior filming was completed on stages at Pinewood Studios. Location shooting was also done in and around London. A room at St Thomas' Hospital in Lambeth overlooking the River Thames doubled as the office of the Managing Director of the shipping line.
The 2005 UK DVD release used the alternate title Terror on the Britannic.
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- Yule, Andrew. The Man Who "Framed" the Beatles: A Biography of Richard Lester by Andrew Yule. London. ISBN 9781556113901.
- Newsmakers: An even trade Yabush, Donald. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 21 Feb 1974: 13.