original film poster by Robert McCall
|Directed by||Richard Lester|
|Produced by||Richard Alan Simmons as Richard DeKoker|
|Written by||Richard Alan Simmons as Richard DeKoker
|Music by||Ken Thorne|
|Editing by||Antony Gibbs|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Release date(s)||September 25, 1974|
|Running time||109 minutes|
Juggernaut is a 1974 British thriller film involving a terrorist who places bombs on the Britannic, a transatlantic ocean liner . The film follows both a bomb squad which boards the vessel and attempts to disarm the bombs, as well as the attempts of the UK police to catch the bomber. It was produced by David V. Picker Productions and released in 1974 by United Artists.
A cruise liner, the SS Britannic, is in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean when the shipping line's owner, Porter (Ian Holm), receives a phone call from a man with a lilting Irish accent who refers to himself only as Juggernaut.
Juggernaut claims to have placed seven barrels of amatol (high explosive) aboard the ship that will explode and sink the ship by dawn the following day. The barrels are booby-trapped and any attempt to defuse them will result in an explosion. Details of how to render the bombs safe will be sent in exchange for a ransom of five hundred thousand pounds sterling.
To show he is serious, Juggernaut arranges a demonstration, a series of small explosions on the ship's bridge that seriously injure one crewmen. Porter is all for paying the ransom and saving the 1,200 passengers on board (the seas are too rough to abandon ship). However, British government officials inform Porter that if he pays the ransom, they'll withdraw his company's operating subsidy.
Instead, a bomb disposal expert, Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Fallon (Richard Harris), and his team must parachute into the Atlantic, board the ship and defuse the barrels before the deadline. Meanwhile, Supt. John McCleod (Anthony Hopkins), whose wife and two children are on board the Britannic leads the efforts on land to find Juggernaut.
After an attempt to defuse one bomb by robot fails, Fallon goes to his backup plan. His team will defuse one barrel each. Fallon will go first, informing his men of each move. If he fails and the bomb explodes, his men will know what went wrong. However, if two more bombs go off, the ship will sink.
Fallon proceeds to disarm one bomb, with his men following each successful step. However, a sudden lurch in the ship due to the bad weather causes one of his men to trip a booby-trap, causing his death when the barrel explodes. Fallon gives up and tells the Captain to pay the ransom, but is persuaded to continue. Meanwhile, an extensive police search locates Juggernaut and he's taken to the command post set up in a school where he is persuaded to tell Fallon how to disarm the final booby-trap. Fallon senses he is being lied to and cuts the opposite wire from the one Juggernaut tells him, thus rendering the bomb inert. His men quickly follow on their own bombs, Juggernaut is arrested and the ship is saved.
On taking over the film, Lester completely rewrote the script with writer Alan Plater, as he recounts to biographer Andrew Yule. Producer/Writer Richard Alan Simmons, unhappy with the new script, had himself credited as Richard DeKoker on the finished film.
The film was shot mainly aboard a real cruise ship. The TS Hamburg had recently been sold by its German owners to the Soviet Union and renamed SS Maxim Gorkiy. Before the Soviets began operating the ship for paying passengers, they chartered it to the film company.
The Black Sea Shipping Company livery carried by the Maxim Gorkiy was altered, the Soviet Union's hammer and sickle emblem in the funnel and bow replaced by the logo of the fictitious Sovereign Line, and the ship was renamed the Britannic. 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.
Because the ship's charter was negotiated at a set rate before oil prices skyrocketed in February 1974, the Soviets, who paid the vessel's operating costs during filming, ended up losing money on the deal.
Origin of story
The film was inspired by a real event in May 1972 in which the QE2 suffered a bomb threat that turned out to be a hoax. Royal Marine Special Boat Service combat divers were parachuted near the ship.
Although the film was originally released in the UK under its regular title, the 2005 DVD release there used the title Terror on the Britannic.
- 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 Social Director Curtain
- Caroline Mortimer as Susan McLeod
- Mark Burns as Hollingsworth
- John Stride as Hughes
- Freddie Jones as Sidney Buckland
- Julian Glover as Commander Marder
- Jack Watson as Chief Engineer Mallicent
- Roshan Seth as Azad
- Kenneth Colley as Detective Brown
- Andy Bradford as 3rd Officer Jim Hardy (as Andrew Bradford)
- Paul Antrim as Digby
- Ben Aris as The Walker
- John Bindon as Driscoll
- Tom Chadbon as Juggernaut's Contact
- Kenneth Cope as Bridgeman
- "QE2 History". Chris' Cunard Page. Retrieved 5-January -2010.