The Poseidon Adventure (1972 film)

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The Poseidon Adventure
Directed by Ronald Neame
Produced by Irwin Allen
Screenplay by Stirling Silliphant
Wendell Mayes
Based on The Poseidon Adventure 
by Paul Gallico
Starring Gene Hackman
Ernest Borgnine
Red Buttons
Carol Lynley
Shelley Winters
Roddy McDowall
Stella Stevens
Jack Albertson
Pamela Sue Martin
Arthur O'Connell
Eric Shea
Leslie Nielsen
Music by John Williams
The Song from The Poseidon Adventure:
Joel Hirschhorn
Al Kasha
Cinematography Harold E. Stine
Edited by Harold F. Kress
Kent Productions, Ltd.
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • December 12, 1972 (1972-12-12)
Running time 117 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $4.7 million[1]
Box office $93,300,000[2]

The Poseidon Adventure is a 1972 American action-adventure disaster film, directed by Ronald Neame, produced by Irwin Allen, and based on Paul Gallico's novel of the same name. The film features an ensemble cast, including five Academy Award winners: Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Jack Albertson, Shelley Winters, and Red Buttons. The cast also includes Carol Lynley, Stella Stevens, Roddy McDowall, Leslie Nielsen, and in an early screen role, Pamela Sue Martin. It won a Special Achievement Academy Award for Visual Effects and an Academy Award for Best Original Song (for "The Song from the Poseidon Adventure" - aka "The Morning After"). Shelley Winters won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role. It also received a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama.

The plot centers on the SS Poseidon, an aged luxury liner on her final voyage from New York City to Athens before being sent to the scrapyard. On New Year's Eve, she is overturned by a tsunami. Passengers and crew are trapped inside, and a rebellious preacher attempts to lead a small group of survivors to safety.

Parts of the movie were filmed aboard the RMS Queen Mary, whose encounter with a rogue wave in 1942 inspired the book upon which the film is based.[citation needed]

Boxoffice magazine reported The Poseidon Adventure was the #1 Box Office Champ of 1973. By the end of 1974, it ranked among the six most successful features in film history, along with Gone with the Wind (1939), The Godfather (1972), Love Story (1970), Airport (1970), and The Sound of Music (1965). It is in the vein of other all-star disaster films of the 1970s such as Airport and later ones like Earthquake (1974) and The Towering Inferno (1974). The Poseidon Adventure was remade twice, first as a television special in 2005 with the same name, and as a theatrical release titled Poseidon in 2006.

A 1979 sequel, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, was released later with an equally star-studded cast, but was a box office and critical failure.


The SS Poseidon, an ocean liner slated for retirement and scrapping, makes her way across the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea from New York City to Athens. Despite protests from Captain Harrison, who fears for the ship's safety, the representative of its new owners, Mr. Linarcos, insists that it make full speed towards its destination, preventing it from taking on additional ballast.

Reverend Frank Scott, a minister questioning his faith and believing God helps those who help themselves, delivers a sermon. Detective Lt. Mike Rogo and his wife Linda, a sarcastic former prostitute, deal with seasickness. Susan and her younger brother Robin are traveling to meet their parents. Robin is interested in how the ship works and frequently visits the engine room. Retired Jewish hardware store owner Manny Rosen and his wife Belle are going to Israel to meet their two-year-old grandson for the first time. Haberdasher James Martin is a love-shy, health-conscious bachelor. The ship's singer, Nonnie Parry, rehearses for the New Year celebrations with her band.

That evening on New Year's Eve 1971, passengers gather in the dining room to celebrate. Harrison is called to the bridge in response to a report of an undersea earthquake. He receives word from the lookout that a huge wave is approaching from the direction of Crete, at 60 mph. He issues a mayday distress signal and commands a "hard left" turn, but it is too late. The wave hits the ship and she capsizes.

In the dining room, survivors take stock of their predicament. Acres, an injured waiter, is trapped at the galley door now high above. With information from Martin, Scott surmises that the escape route will be found "upwards", at the outer hull, now above water. Robin tells him the hull near the propeller shaft is only one inch (2.54 cm) thick. The Rosens, the Rogos, Susan, Robin, Acres, Nonnie, and Martin agree to go with Scott, using a Christmas tree as a ladder. Scott unsuccessfully tries convincing more passengers to join them. After the group climbs to the galley, there is a series of explosions. As seawater floods the room the survivors rush to the Christmas tree, but the weight of everyone climbing causes the tree to fall.

Acres and Scott find the galley, and the survivors make their way to a staircase. Scott climbs its underside, then he and Rogo use a firehose to pull the others up before leading them to an access tunnel. While climbing a ladder inside a funnel, the ship rocks from another series of explosions. Acres falls and is lost.

Climbing out of the shaft, the group meets a large band of survivors led by the ship's medic, heading towards the bow. Scott is certain they are heading for their doom, but Rogo wants to follow them and gives Scott fifteen minutes to find the engine room. Although he takes longer than allowed, Scott is successful.

The group discovers the engine room is on the other side of a flooded corridor; someone must swim through with a line to help the others. Belle, a former competitive swimmer, volunteers, but Scott refuses her and dives in. Halfway through, a panel collapses on him. The survivors notice something is wrong and Belle dives in. She frees Scott and they make it to the other side. While Scott secures the lifeline, Belle suffers a heart attack. Before dying she tells Scott to give her "Chai" pendant, representing the Hebrew sign for life, to Rosen, who in turn will give it to their grandson.

Rogo swims over to make sure Belle and Scott are all right, then leads the rest over. When Rosen finds Belle's body he is unwilling to go on, but Scott gives him her pendant, reminding him that he has a reason to live.

Scott leads the survivors to the propeller shaft room's watertight door, but there is another series of explosions, and Linda falls to her death. An infuriated and heartbroken Rogo blames her death on Scott. More explosions rupture a pipe that releases steam, blocking their escape. Scott rants at God for the survivors' deaths. He leaps and grabs onto the burning-hot valve wheel to shut off the steam, then tells Rogo to lead the group before letting go of it, sacrificing himself.

Rogo leads the remaining survivors — Rosen, Martin, Nonnie, Susan, and Robin — through the watertight door and into the propeller shaft room. They hear a noise above the ship and bang on the ceiling/floor to get the rescuers' attention. The rescuers cut through the hull and help the group out of the ship. The survivors, the only six alive after the disaster, fly to safety by helicopter.



The Poseidon Adventure: Limited Edition[3]
No. Title Length
1. "Main Title"   2:12
2. "Rogo and Linda"   1:34
3. "The Big Wave/The Aftermath"   4:02
4. "Raising the Christmas Tree"   1:28
5. "Nonnie and Red/Up the Tree"   1:59
6. "Death's Door/The Upturned Galley"   2:01
7. "Through the Galley"   1:13
8. "The Other Survivors"   1:37
9. "Search for the Engine Room"   2:51
10. "Barber Shoppe Scene"   1:46
11. "Saving Robin"   1:24
12. "The Death of Belle"   3:25
13. "Hold Your Breath"   3:08
14. "The Red Wheel"   1:25
15. "Rogo Takes Command"   1:38
16. "End Title (The Rescue)"   3:36
17. "Main Title (Alternate #1)"   1:58
18. "New Year's Party (Version 1)"   0:58
19. "To Love"   3:12
20. "New Year's Party (Version 2)"   2:11
21. "Main Title (Alternate #2)"   1:59
22. ""The Morning After" (Version 1)"   2:10
23. ""Love Is A Many Splendored Thing""   2:19
24. ""Give Me The Simple Life"/"A Certain Smile""   1:49
25. ""The Morning After" Instrumental"   2:09
26. ""Auld Lang Syne""   1:34
27. ""The Morning After" (Version 2)"   2:10
28. "End Title (Alternate)"   2:38


The film earned estimated rentals of $40 million in North America in 1973.[4]

The Poseidon Adventure has received largely positive reviews, with review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reporting 79% of 24 critics gave the film a positive review, with an above average score of 6.8/10.[5]

When the film made its network television premier on ABC on October 27, 1974, it earned a 39.0 household share, making it the sixth highest film to ever air on network television.[6]

In recent years, The Poseidon Adventure has become a cult film.[7] It has been released on DVD and Blu-ray.

The film is listed in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson's book, The Official Razzie Movie Guide, as one of The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made.[8]


The film won an Academy Award,[9] a Golden Globe Award, a British Academy Film Award, and a Motion Picture Sound Editors Award.[10]

Award Category Subject Result
Academy Award Best Supporting Actress Shelley Winters Nominated
Best Production Design William J. Creber Nominated
Raphael Bretton Nominated
Best Original Song ("The Morning After") Al Kasha Won
Joel Hirschhorn Won
Best Original Score John Williams Nominated
Best Costume Design Paul Zastupnevich Nominated
Best Sound Theodore Soderberg Nominated
Herman Lewis Nominated
Best Cinematography Harold E. Stine Nominated
Best Film Editing Harold F. Kress Nominated
ACE Eddie Best Editing Nominated
BAFTA Award Best Actor Gene Hackman Won
Best Supporting Actress Shelley Winters Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Won
Best Original Score John Williams Nominated
Best Original Song ("The Morning After") Al Kasha Nominated
Joel Hirschhorn Nominated
Best Motion Picture – Drama Irwin Allen Nominated
Motion Picture Sound Editors Award Best Sound Editing N/A Nominated
Satellite Award Best DVD Extras Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p256
  2. ^ "The Poseidon Adventure, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved January 21, 2012. 
  3. ^ "The Poseidon Adventure (Stereo): Limited Edition". La-La Land Records. Retrieved October 19, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1973", Variety, 9 January 1974 p 19
  5. ^ The Poseidon Adventure at Rotten Tomatoes
  6. ^ The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present. Ballantine Books. 2003. p. 805. ISBN 0-345-45542-8. 
  7. ^ Vinciguerra, Thomas (2006-05-07). "Underwater, and Over the Top in 1972". The New York Times. 
  8. ^ Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0. 
  9. ^ "The 45th Academy Awards (1973) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  10. ^ "NY Times: The Poseidon Adventure". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-28. 

External links[edit]