Category Archives: Disaster

The Concorde…Airport ’79-1979

The Concorde…Airport ’79-1979

Director David Lowell Rich

Starring Alain Delon, Susan Blakely, George Kennedy

Scott’s Review #1,078

Reviewed November 7, 2020

Grade: B

The fourth and final installment of the popular Airport film franchise, The Concorde…Airport ’79 (1979) has an appealing and sophisticated international flavor, mainly French culture, that may turn off some viewers seeking a more traditional and domestic offering.

The three previous installments contained a wholesome Americana quality that is lacking in this one. The rich culture is the high point for me in a film that by all accounts is not very good.

By the late 1970s, the disaster genre had all but crashed and burned so the film was commercially unsuccessful, and the franchise thus abandoned.

The plot is utterly ridiculous even by disaster standards and my hunch is that ideas of what could go wrong on an airplane were hard to find. After all, it’s not easy to top an airliner crashing and sinking into the ocean, leaving most passengers unscathed.

This time we experience an airplane flying upside down (more than once!), nose-diving (more than once!), and nearly doing backflips and summersaults (more than once!).

Disappointing is the limited amount of deaths that occur despite these treacheries unless you count a shooting inside an apartment and a suicide that have little to do with the plane ride.

Back to my original point, the cultured and vibrant foreign presence, specifically Paris and its lustrous and historic offerings, is the high point of The Concorde…Airport ’79.

The City of Lights is heavily featured as a team of American Olympic athletes traveling from Washington D.C. to Moscow by way of a layover at Charles De Galle airport. The heavenly site of the Eifel Tower is an immediate identifier as French pilot, Captain Paul Metrand (Alain Delon), flies the state-of-the-art Concorde to the United States to transport its passengers to the games.

There is a strong French flavor to this film. During the Paris layover, George Kennedy’s Joe Patroni, now a pilot, befriends a gorgeous woman named Francine, whom he bonds with over dinner.

They, and others, embark on a fabulous French bistro and have the time of their lives. Who cares that she is later revealed to be a prostitute? The setting oozes with French goodness, food, and sexy accents.

One peculiarity is why the trip goes from Paris to Washington D.C. back to Paris and then on to Moscow. It’s a bit confusing and unnecessary.

Unintentionally funny is how the Concorde is attacked by a drone en route to Paris, and then a bomb is planted on the plane before takeoff to Moscow. Trouble occurs in the same plane with the same passengers.

You would think anyone with half a brain would sit the second leg out, perhaps hopping on the nearest boat or train out of town.

The main story is secondary and quite superfluous. Robert Wagner plays Kevin Harrison, a corrupt arms dealer who plots the destruction of the Concorde because news reporter and girlfriend, Maggie Whelan (Susan Blakely) has evidence of his weapons sales to communists.

He plans to blow up the plane, killing all the passengers, instead of hiring an assassin to kill only Maggie when she lands and before she can tell authorities.

The plot is completely story-driven.

Several celebrity cameos are added mostly for comic relief and largely go nowhere.

Jimmie Walker as the pot-smoking, saxophone-playing Boise, and Martha Raye’s bathroom-crazed Loretta are ridiculous by any standards. Charo’s one scene as Margarita, a woman who sneaks her dog on board and is subsequently kicked off the flight is a time waste.

I would have rather witnessed another scene of Loretta needing to use the restroom or Boise getting high.

And Susan Blakely overacts throughout the film.

Despite all these hard knocks, The Concorde…Airport ’79 (1979) is good entertaining fun, not to be taken seriously, and encouraged for fans of the genre.

There is much fun to be had with the guest stars, once A-list, now B or C-list, and the crash-landing finale over the snowy Alps is pretty cool.

Just know what you are getting yourself into.

Airport ’77-1977

Airport ’77-1977

Director Jerry Jameson

Starring Jack Lemmon, James Stewart, Olivia de Havilland

Scott’s Review #1,072

Reviewed October 20, 2020

Grade: B+

The word that springs to mind following a viewing of the disaster flick Airport ’77 (1977) is entertaining. Whether this is positive or negative depends on the viewer and what that viewer wants out of a film.

As a huge fan of the disaster genre, I was one satisfied customer though there is little to distinguish the film from other efforts. It is a more cohesive and professional-feeling effort than its predecessor, Airport ’75.

The fun is watching the cast, the grandiose list of who’s who of Hollywood heavyweights gracing the opening credits.

We wonder who will survive and who will not.

The star is the airplane. Showcased by way of both interiors and exteriors, the luxurious privately-owned Boeing 747-100 is a great highlight of the picture.

Owned by wealthy philanthropist Philip Stevens (James Stewart), the plane is packed with VIPs and priceless art traveling to his Florida estate for a party.

The wealthy travelers are drugged, and the aircraft is subsequently hijacked before crashing into the ocean in the Bermuda Triangle and sinking 100 feet, prompting the survivors to undertake a desperate struggle to live.

The airplane set is a feast for the eyes. A double-deck plane (naturally!) the plush green carpets and the spiral staircase complete with a robust bar stocked with every type of liquor imaginable are wonderful trimming.

It allows the viewer to forget all about the typical in-flight treats like their seat being kicked, a screaming baby, or a fat man snoring, and escape to the pleasures of champagne, caviar, and slippers.

Seriously, the sets are tremendous and worthy of their accolades.

Jerry Jameson, primarily a television director, sticks to a formulaic approach that makes the film look like a long television series. Think Murder, She Wrote, Dallas, or Dynasty at 30,000 feet.

I say this because the melodrama is sky-high (no pun intended) and situations arise between flight crew and passengers to create more tension than the crash itself.

The juiciest drama exists between husband and wife Martin (Christopher Lee) and Karen Wallace (Lee Grant). He flirts with women at the bar, drinks too much, and gets jealous. They squabble. You get the idea.

What a joy it is to see some of the stars on-screen together, specifically Stewart, Olivia de Havilland, and Joseph Cotten. As Nicholas, Cotten is a romantic match for de Havilland’s Emily Livingston, and they appear to be old friends.

Fans of classic cinema will undoubtedly associate him with Shadow of a Doubt (1943) and her with Gone with the Wind (1939) and to see the legendary stars side by side is darling, nearly worth the price of admission.

Stewart is perfectly cast as the rich and distinguished man eager to see the impending arrival of his estranged daughter and her son, hopeful of a happy reunion.

These delights are why I love this genre.

The actors teeter back and forth between phoning in their lines and enthusiastically having a ball with their respective roles. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which. I’ll bet the set was tension-free as everyone was earning a bundle of cash.

And why not? The budget is plentiful and filled with overabundance.

The plot is generally ludicrous as is to be expected. The thought that anyone, let alone nearly everyone, could survive a crash into the ocean and remain unscathed as it sinks to the depths of the water is beyond silly.

Suddenly, when all passengers conveniently emerge from their drug-induced stupor simultaneously, hysterics erupt which is quite humorous. As the water slowly begins to seep into the plane a frenzied effort to find a way out commences.

The last portion of the film involving a rescue crew coming to save the passengers is a disappointment, lacking much captivation.

Airport ’77 (1977) has all the elements its target viewer expects it to have. If the well-known cast were instead unknowns the crash peril and its following adventure were not danger personified, and the dramatic and romantic tensions left out, the film would be a disappointment.

The film is like sinking your teeth into a fattening, highly caloric Whopper from your favorite Burger King. It’s a guilty pleasure that you wouldn’t necessarily tell your health-conscious friends you get so much enjoyment from.

But, it’s fun, so why not indulge from time to time?

Oscar Nominations: Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design

Airport 1975-1974

Airport 1975-1974

Director Jack Smight

Starring Charlton Heston, Karen Black, George Kennedy

Scott’s Review #1,060

Reviewed September 8, 2020

Grade: B+

Possessing all the disaster film genre schmaltz, proper trimmings, and then some, Airport 1975 (1974) is good, hammy entertainment that gleefully satisfies, though artistic types will be embarrassed to admit how much they like it.

In parallel with The Towering Inferno (1974) and Earthquake (1974), the three were some of the highest-grossing films of the year and it is little wonder why. The offering has enough adventure and peril to satisfy the entire family.

I watched this film practically in tandem with Airport (1970) and it feels a letdown by comparison, but that hardly matters. Both are very good.

With juicy anticipation, the filmmakers paid a ton of cash to secure a bevy of Hollywood stars of yesteryear assuring they could rake in the box office receipts.

Most are past their prime but still marketable, what a treat to see legendary silent film star Gloria Swanson playing herself as a passenger.

The unequivocal star and hero of the film is Charlton Heston, as he also was in Earthquake. Karen Black, Myrna Loy, Linda Blair, Susan Clark, Nancy Olson, and George Kennedy (reprising his role from the first Airport) round out the stellar cast.

Worth its price of admission is watching the opening credits to see who is in the cast.

Unlike Airport, which wisely spent much of its time inside the actual airport setting up the events and stories, Airport 1975 takes flight right away and crafts its trials and tribulations within the aisles and cockpit of the plane.

We learn right off the bat that the main romantic couple is Heston and Black. Captain Alan Murdock (Heston) apparently cannot commit to Chief Stewardess Nancy Pryor (Black) and they plan to meet up in Los Angeles to discuss the drama further.

We know they will have more to do with each other as her flight takes off for La La Land.

Quickly, a small plane flown by businessman Scott Freeman (Dana Andrews) is diverted to Salt Lake City airport and he suffers a massive heart attack while descending.

His plane naturally crashes into the cockpit of the enormous Boeing 747 killing two pilots and blinding the other.

With nobody able to fly the plane, Nancy must figure out how to divert disaster while cascading over mountains and contending with a fuel leak. Murdock and crew try to land the plane remotely or get somebody up there to save the day.

Predictably, Murdock is that man.

If Airport 1975 weren’t so damned fun it would be offensive since it’s riddled with gender stereotypes. Screenwriter, Don Ingalls, composes a project so fraught with machismo and masculinity, that the female characters have little chance to do much of anything without being saved by a man.

Let’s cite a couple of examples. Nancy is left alone in the open cockpit to navigate the plane.

Worthy of mention is that her hair remains perfect throughout.

Anyway, Murdock must explain to her how to check various controls which he does as if she were a five-year-old learning the alphabet, referring to a picture of the “little airplane” and calling her “dear”.

She rattles off a puzzled “what?” before figuring out where or what the “little airplane” is.

Secondary Stewardess Bette (Christopher Norris) is boy crazy, asking Nancy if the flight crew is “sexy” before making googly eyes at Latin pilot, Julio (Erik Estrada). He is married but that doesn’t seem to bother either of them.

They flirt while he orders her to bring him a cup of coffee. The male characters telling the female characters to get them drinks is a common theme in Airport 1975.

Naturally, Murdock eventually makes it on board to take over the controls and land the plane.

We imagine Nancy’s character thinking, “Good Heavens, thank goodness a man arrived just in the nick of time to save all of us!”. She promptly is sent to get Murdock a drink and fluff pillows.

But these are gripes that I can look past with the knowledge that if this film were made in 2020 Nancy would either land the plane or Murdock would be a female character and Nancy a male character.

Imagine that!

The real threats are the peril and drama associated with the events on the flight.

A sick kid (Linda Blair) must reach land quickly so that she can be provided medical assistance while a crack in the airplane ceiling could burst at any moment killing everyone on board.

For popcorn-fueled entertainment sure to please any viewer Airport 1975 (1974) is a perfect late-afternoon, rainy day suggestion.

Advisable is to not look too deeply into the stereotypes and contrived setups or this will ruin the fun. Instead, hop aboard and enjoy the bumpy flight from the comfy cushions of your living room with the assurance that you will land safe and sound.



Director George Seaton

Starring Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, Helen Hayes

Scott’s Review #1,059

Reviewed September 2, 2020

Grade: A

The film that triggered the popular disaster genre that captivated much of 1970’s cinema, Airport (1970) led the pack in innovation and entertained the masses with a large cast of A-list Hollywood stars suffering peril.

What fun!

The blueprint continued with The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Earthquake (1974), and The Towering Inferno (1974). Interestingly, the Airport contains little death, unlike the others who systematically killed off cast members in a reverse whodunit, more like “who gets it”.

It holds up quite well.

Airport is pure bliss for me. An enormous fan of the disaster epic, to begin with, this one satisfies my obsessions with airports and airplanes, adding late 1960s sophistication and style, and a healthy dose of sub-plots.

From a romantic triangle to mental illness to an elderly stowaway named Ada (Helen Hayes), the storylines mesh so that there’s never a dull moment. Events occur amid a twenty-four-hour time, and a busy and snowy Chicago airport is the backdrop.

The cinematic spectacle was based on a little-known novel of the same name written by Arthur Hailey and turned into a screenplay written by George Seaton, who also directs the flick. I love it when a director also writes the dialogue because a better experience often prevails.

Seaton directed Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and a slew of other films, so he knows a thing or two about pulling the heartstrings while offering adventure.

The film was rated “G” so it’s a family-friendly affair.

A cold and snowy winter night in Chicago results in flight delays and a 707 plane getting stuck on the runway in snow and mud. As crews attempt to dig out the plane, Airport manager Mel Bakersfield (Burt Lancaster) is forced to work overtime. His furious wife Cindy (Dana Wynter) demands a divorce. He’s in love with Tanya anyway, a pretty customer relations agent for the airline, Trans Global Airlines, a clever play on Trans World Airlines.

Other characters emerge like a high-spirited chief mechanic (George Kennedy), and married man Vernon, who is a captain of TGA, and having an affair with stewardess Gwen (Jacqueline Bisset), who is pregnant with his child.

The heavy is a mentally disturbed man named D.O. Guerrero (Van Heflin) who is so down on his luck that he desperately crafts a handmade bomb and takes out an insurance policy that his struggling wife Inez (Maureen Stapleton) will receive upon his death.

He boards a plane to Rome with most of the other characters, intent on detonating the bomb, killing himself, and leaving Inez with some financial relief. When she catches on she hurries to the airport, desperate to stop the flight from departing. Of course, things don’t go so well.

The Guerrero’s are my favorite characters. D.O. could have easily been written as a villain, one-note, and dastardly, but he isn’t. He is a sympathetic character, pained and wounded, his troubles are the result of war, and he oozes compassion.

Stapleton is tremendous as Inez, the suffering wife who loves her husband and desperately wants them to have a nice life. The actress gives a gut-wrenching performance that should have won her the Oscar.

Instead, it went to the comic talents of Hayes.

The main appeal of these stories is that the audience slowly gets to know, and falls in love, with the characters. They become like good friends.

The pacing is so good that it’s only the last forty-five minutes of the film where the real action takes place.

Strong characters and rich stories are offered as the buildup, and we know that peril is eventually coming, and indeed it does.

The special effects and the airplane set are fantastic for 1970. The luxury airline with its plush seats and catered meals is on display and the entire length of the plane, and the cockpit, are used heavily.

Characters walk up and down the aisles frequently, so the illusion is a vast and stylish airliner, even though a small set was probably used.

The stewardesses and pilots offer a glimpse of what a luxury it used to be to fly in style without the annoyances of long security lines, check-ins, and constant hassles.

Hell, D.O. casually walks on the plane with a bomb and Ada gets on without a second glance when she claims to be giving a passenger their dropped wallet!

Airport (1970) set the tone for other similar films to follow and successfully mixes sudsy dramatic stories of its characters’ lives with the thrills and plights of those same characters in danger.

I don’t consider it the fluff that many others do, but a satisfying, well-constructed film that still holds up well.

The film was followed by three sequels and heavily spoofed hilariously by the comedy Airplane! (1980).

It bears repeated viewings.

Oscar Nominations: 1 win-Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress-Helen Hayes (won), Maureen Stapleton, Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Best Original Score, Best Sound, Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing



Director Jan de Bont

Starring Bill Pullman, Helen Hunt

Scott’s Review #763

Reviewed May 25, 2018

Grade: B+

Twister (1996) is a film that contains amazing and groundbreaking special effects- that blew people away (pun intended!) when released to the masses over twenty years ago.

Moviegoers flocked to theaters everywhere to partake in the escapist summer feel-good hit starring popular movie stars of the time.

The film spawned amusement park rides and lots of other fun things during its run.

The visuals are what truly are to be enjoyed here and not the generic, tried, and true subplots of romance, childhood trauma, and corporate greed that are mixed in.

The film does not hold up well in present times as the dazzling effects now look rather dated when lined up against modern blockbusters. This results in Twister being reduced to “one of those 1990’s films”.

Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt star as American storm chasers, Bill and Jo, obsessed with their craft of tracking tornadoes throughout the United States mid-western region. Adding drama to the plot is that Bill and Jo are an estranged married couple amid a divorce.

Bill brings his new fiancee Melissa (Jami Gertz) along as numerous meteorologists converge to track storms using newly invented devices.

Predictably, a series of vicious storms commence while Bill, Jo, and Melissa play out a love triangle.

Twister gets off to a fantastic start as a wicked storm kills the five-year-old Jo’s father, prompting her to pursue her career of choice. Jo has never gotten over her father’s death becoming fascinated by deadly storms.

The effects of this initial storm are very well done as Jo’s father’s death scene is riveting- the poor man being sucked into the deadly cyclone is memorable. Regardless, this scene sets the tone for the ample effects to follow- most notably the terrifying sound of the swirling storm as farm tools and animals fly around onscreen.

After the initial introduction, the rest of the film is mainly of the group driving around and encountering storms, with Bill and Jo taking center stage.

As a child having spent many summers in the mid-west, sans tornadoes thankfully, I felt a sense of nostalgia watching the film.

Assumptions are being made that Twister was indeed filmed on location (with studio help), but the authenticity is apparent. From the vastness of the plains to the dusty roads, cornfields, and the small-town U.S.A. I enjoyed the down-home, slice-of-life feel.

The action and effects are lightning-quick and quite realistic. As mentioned the sound effects are as strong as the visual effects and I never doubted for a second that the twisters had a realism to them.

This successfully merges into the summer blockbuster that Twister’s producers undoubtedly were going for. Making a ton of money, the result was successful and inspired by Hollywood.

Despite the superlative special effects, though, this is the only reason to watch Twister, and seeing the film once is enough excitement.

The writers (Michael Crichton and Anne-Marie Martin) attempt to incorporate a romance into the story and this does nobody any good. This negative aspect is even more apparent since the chemistry between Paxton and Hunt is non-existent and Gertz’s Melissa is meant to be the odd woman out all along.

A large amount of suspension of disbelief is necessary to “buy” various scenes. Ludicrous are countless scenes where characters either outrun the monstrous twisters or somehow the storms encircle them, but miraculously never touch them.

When Jo, Bill, and Melissa’s truck are captured inside the funnel cloud the vehicle and its passengers somehow remain unharmed.  Tornadoes do not simply come out of nowhere to attack without any indication on the radar.

But alas this is a disaster film and liberties must be taken.

The famous “cow scene”, notoriously used twice in the film seemed groundbreaking and cutting edge in 1996, but in 2018 now seems hokey and unnecessary.

Times sure do change in cinema, especially with technical effects and CGI growing each year.

Admittedly, the film does contain a good, all-American rockin’ summer tune by Van Halen named “Humans Being”, which always makes me think of summertime when I hear it. The entire Twister soundtrack was an enormous success with radio airplay given and led to further successes for the film.

Perhaps now watched as a blast from the past or a revisit to some sort of nostalgic time for folks, Twister (1996) is a great example of a once-popular popcorn movie falling into semi-obscurity. Given another twenty years, the film will undoubtedly fall all the way.

A nice film for the time it was, but not much more.

Oscar Nominations: Best Sound, Best Visual Effects



Director Mark Robson

Starring Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner

Scott’s Review #407


Reviewed June 2, 2016

Grade: B+

One of the several disaster films to populate film screens in the early to mid-1970s, Earthquake is one of the “main four” blockbusters (The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno, and Airport being the others), that still resonate with viewers in modern times and are nostalgic to watch.

One might argue that the aforementioned few largely influenced Earthquake since it was the last of the group to be filmed.

Certainly, the influence is apparent.

Earthquake is a classic, traditional, disaster film containing many stock characters (or types) and is an ensemble piece- as disaster films always are- frequently containing stars of yesteryear attempting exposure in the modern cinema.

The gender roles in Earthquake are quite mainstream for the day as the females are all clearly  “damsels in distress” types and the men are portrayed as the heroes.

The action begins as we witness a Los Angeles-based middle-aged couple (the central couple if you will) engaging in a dispute.

Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner play Stewart and Remy Graff, an affluent couple, a former football star, she a boozy socialite. Her father is the wealthy Sam Royce, played by Lorne Greene. Stewart is carrying on an affair with a young actress, Denise Marshall, creating a soap opera-style romantic triangle, adding drama to the film.

We meet other characters who round out the character’s stories- LAPD Sgt. Slade (George Kennedy) shares a flirtation with Rosa (Victoria Principal), while drunkard Walter Matthau and evil kineval character Richard Roundtree provide comic relief.

These stories are merely filler until the inevitable earthquake arrives to ‘shake’ things up.

The earthquake is the main character in the film just like the tidal wave, the fire, and the airline peril are in the other same genre films.

The character’s trivial relationships soon take a back seat to the action as the earthquake shatters the city in subsequent onsets and aftershocks, destroying buildings and resulting in many deaths.

The very lengthy main earthquake sequence is second to none and hovers around the twenty-minute mark. We see many characters in peril. The scene goes on and on but is hardly redundant.

The scene is masterful and well done. The effects, cinematography, and visuals alone hold up well today and must have been breathtaking circa 1974.

In one particularly thrilling scene, a group of office workers on the thirtieth floor of a skyscraper desperately try to scramble to the elevator as the building shakes and shimmies. One businessman shoves a secretary out of the way and selfishly immerses himself in the crowded elevator as others desperately pound on the elevator door to escape.

Things do not end well for the folks on the elevator as bolts loosen and the car crashes to the ground. An animated blood splat fills the screen in a lighthearted, comical way.

The film wisely does not take itself too seriously.

As fantastic as the destruction sequence is, Earthquake is not a film without a few flaws, mostly from a character standpoint.

Unbelievable is Heston playing Greene’s son-in-law and Gardner are assumed to be young enough to be his daughter- they appear to be around the same age.

A strange character, Jody, a store clerk, suddenly dresses as a soldier, wearing a wig, following the destruction and, assumed to be gay by thugs, is teased, which prompts him to shoot them with a machine gun. He subsequently becomes obsessed with and nearly rapes Rosa.

The sub-plot seems uneven and very unnecessary.

With spectacular special effects, Earthquake is a must-see disaster film with a slightly downcast, hopeless tone. It does its job well- it entertains, thrills, and features an all-star cast of former Hollywood elite and a few rising stars.

A fun time will be had.

Oscar Nominations: 1 win-Best Sound (won), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing



Director James Cameron

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet

Top 100 Films #49

Scott’s Review #327


Reviewed January 6, 2016

Grade: A

1997’s Titanic is a sweeping, gorgeous epic, directed by James Cameron, that is perfection at every level. This film has it all: romance, disaster, gorgeous art direction, and flawless attention to detail.

The film will make you laugh, cry, and fall in love with the characters, despite knowing the inevitable outcome. The film is based on the real-life sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912 after the ship tragically collided with an iceberg.

I have witnessed this film be derided for being a “chick flick” or too “sappy”, but I vehemently disagree and feel it is a classic for the ages.

Titanic successfully re-invented the Hollywood epic.

Jack Dawkins (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a penniless artist who meets high-class socialite Rose DeWitt (Kate Winslet) aboard the luxurious Titanic, headed from the coast of England to the United States on its maiden voyage.

Rose is engaged to cagey Cal Hockley (Billy Zane).

Depressed, Rose contemplates diving overboard to her death, but Jack saves her and convinces her otherwise. They spend time together and he draws her portrait. As their romance blossoms, Cal catches on and plots revenge.

In the mix is Rose’s snobbish mother, Ruth, played by Frances Fisher.

The main theme of the film is social class and the difference that separates the haves from the have-nots.

James Cameron desired perfection from this film and he sure got what he wanted. Every detail of Titanic is flawless and historically accurate, from the dining room silverware to the costumes to the set pieces barely visible in the background.

Cameron even had a replica of the original Titanic built for filming purposes- with limitations, but what a vast undertaking this must have been. That, along with the smoldering romance between Jack and Rose, is what makes Titanic one of my favorite films.

Two fantastic scenes are when Jack is taken under the wing of Molly Brown, played by Kathy Bates. Molly is not the snob that many of the other upper class is, and lends Jack a tuxedo so that he will look dapper for Rose. She also tenderly teaches him the appropriate way to use silverware.

Tragically, the other scene is more melancholy- a gorgeous classical piece plays in the background as the vast ship is engulfed in water and slowly sinks, causing many deaths.

At well over three hours in length, the conclusion of the film is quite sprawling- and one has the feeling of being aboard the ship. By this time I was invested in the characters, both lead and supporting and the tragedy that ensues is both a marvel and heart-wrenching.

Titanic (1997) is a film that simply must be viewed on the big screen for full effect, and is a timeless masterpiece that has aged perfectly.

Oscar Nominations: 10 wins-Best Picture (won), Best Director-James Cameron (won), Best Actress-Kate Winslet, Best Supporting Actress-Gloria Stuart, Best Original Dramatic Score (won), Best Original Song-“My Heart Will Go On”, Best Sound Effects Editing (won), Best Sound (won), Best Art Direction (won), Best Cinematography (won), Best Makeup, Best Costume Design (won), Best Film Editing (won), Best Visual Effects (won)

The Poseidon Adventure-1972

The Poseidon Adventure-1972

Director Ronald Neame

Starring Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters

Top 100 Films #12

Scott’s Review #214


Reviewed January 17, 2015

Grade: A

The disaster genre, mainly encompassing the 1970s in film, includes some of my personal favorites and The Poseidon Adventure (1972) is easily at the top of the pile.

Set on a lavish ocean liner, the SS Poseidon, on New Year’s Eve, the doomed ship falls victim to a powerful tsunami while sailing from New York to Athens on its final voyage, causing it to topple over and leaving a handful of survivors to meander through the bowels of the ship in an attempt to find a way out and be rescued.

They are led by a stubborn preacher, played by Gene Hackman.

The appeal of The Poseidon Adventure is, of course, watching the cast of characters in peril and guessing which ones will meet their fates and how- think a slasher film without the horror component.

Featuring an ensemble cast of Hollywood celebs of the day, the characters are introduced to the audience before the tidal wave erupts, so, therefore, we care for them immensely.

There is the former hooker with the heart of gold married to a gruff cop (Stella Stevens and Ernest Borgnine as Mike and Linda Rogo).

Then there is the sweet-natured older couple on the cruise to see their grandchild (Shelley Winters and Jack Albertson as Manny and Belle Rosen).

Pamela Sue Martin plays the teen girl, Susan, who falls madly in love with the preacher- Reverend Scott. Along with her younger brother, Robin, they are traveling to see their parents, who await their arrival.

Roddy McDowall plays a waiter named Acres.

Lastly, Red Buttons plays James Martin, a health-conscious bachelor, and Carol Lynley plays shy singer Nonnie.

Reverend Scott is the moral focal point of the film and questions god several times throughout.

The sets are extraordinary- the colorful Christmas tree in the grand dining room is fantastic. The entire New Year’s Eve party scene is my favorite- it is festive, extravagant, and mixed in with a scene where the ominous tsunami is rapidly approaching.

The festive celebration quickly turns into confusion as the sirens begin to sound, and finally, panic as furniture begins to fly.

Visually this scene is the most intricate- the ship turns upside down after the crash, thus giving the illusion that the bottom of the ship is the top.


From this point on all of the sets to follow are intended to be upside down- a crafty and effective style, but none more than the dining room scene.

A victim toppling and crashing into a giant clock is a memorable scene.

As the group of survivors haggardly make their way throughout the ship they encounter underwater explosions, dead bodies, rushing water, and disputes, mainly between Reverend Scott and Rogo, as to how to proceed to safety.

One by one a handful of the group meets their fates in gruesome fashion- falling into a fire, a heart attack, and falling to one’s death.

Shelley Winters is the comic relief of the film with her humorous quips about her weight, and her death scene brings me to tears each time I experience it.

A heavyset older woman who at one time was a dynamite high school swimmer, she attempts to help the group by holding her breath and swimming underneath the engine room, which is blocked- she does inevitably save the Reverend Scott’s life but succumbs to a heart attack shortly thereafter.

It is a powerful, heartbreaking scene.

The film is a great adventure. What makes The Poseidon Adventure (1972) so timeless and continues to bring so much pleasure? Certainly not high-brow nor high art, but it does not need to be.

It is simply meant to be enjoyed for what it is- a thrilling, fun, entertaining ride.

Oscar Nominations: 1 win-Best Supporting Actress-Shelley Winters, Best Song Original for the Picture-“The Morning After” (won), Best Original Dramatic Score, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing

The Towering Inferno-1974

The Towering Inferno-1974

Director John Guillermin

Starring Paul Newman, Steve McQueen

Top 100 Films #43

Scott’s Review #194


Reviewed November 15, 2014

Grade: A

The Towering Inferno (1974) epitomizes the disaster film craze heaped on audiences throughout the 1970s (Airport, Airport ‘75 and ‘77, The Poseidon Adventure (1972), and Earthquake (1974) to name a few).

I am (guilt-free) a huge fan of this 1970s movie genre, though some certainly look down on it, I am not one of them and feel The Towering Inferno is one of the greatest.

The film is enormous and has such a sense of adventure and danger.

The grand film tells of the trials and tribulations of an enormous cast of characters trapped inside an inferno-flamed skyscraper – led by Paul Newman and Steve McQueen (fun fact- the two actors reportedly despised each other).

An incredible skyscraper is erected in San Francisco, at one hundred and thirty-eight floors it is professed to be the tallest building in the world and incredibly state-of-the-art. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, an elaborate party is held atop the building overlooking the gorgeous Pacific Ocean.

Due to faulty electrical wiring, the building catches fire and the cast of characters faces one challenge after another to escape the grips of death.

The stellar cast features stars like William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Robert Wagner, Jennifer Jones, and O.J. Simpson in addition to Newman and McQueen.

The film is quite a soap opera style- numerous characters are introduced, many having affairs with each other or suffering some sort of conflict.

Wagner having a torrid office romance with his secretary played by then up-and-coming star Susan Flannery is deliciously sexy and I yearned to know more about both characters.

Holden’s son-in-law is responsible for the faulty electrical system yet blames his father-in-law for cutting budgets.

Another subplot involves Astaire’s character attempting to swindle Jones’s character but then falling in love with her. The plots are so melodramatic that, given the period of the film, it has a definite primetime television soap opera style to it- think Dallas or Dynasty in a state of peril.

I enjoyed the enormous cast and trying to guess who will be killed off next and in what elaborate way the film will burn them to death is a joy to watch- several victims fall or jump to their deaths, which eerily (and sadly) bring back morbid images of jumpers from the World Trade towers on 9/11.

The beginning of the film shows a dedication to firemen everywhere and the film has a definite moral and heroical quality to the firemen sent to rescue the people in the building. They are portrayed as heroes and intended not to be forgotten amid all the drama encompassing the story. This is admirable.

The special effects are elaborate and quite impressive- the glass elevator rescue scene is amazing! The beautiful set designs are a treat to watch as each lobby, apartment, or lounge in the skyscraper is exquisitely designed at the height of the 1970s style.

Every sofa or carpet featured is plush, colorful, and sophisticated. The skyscraper, made of glass, is an amazing element of the film, and the aerial views of the building, especially while ablaze are impressive, to say the least- remember- 1974 was long before CGI. I am assuming small replicas of the building were used, but what an achievement from a visual perspective.

The effects certainly champion the syrupy story elements.

My only small gripe with The Towering Inferno is, assumed to be 138 stories high, the action taking place at the top of the tower- the rooftop as well as the party scenes on the top floor- do not feel that high- The scenic outlook overlooking the water and some land feel about twenty-five stories high, not one hundred and thirty-eight.

Some find The Towering Inferno (1974) to be nothing more than schmaltzy drama- I say schmaltz was never done better.

Enjoy this feast of a big film.

Oscar Nominations: 3 wins-Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor-Fred Astaire, Best Original Dramatic Score, Best Song-“We May Never Love Like This Again” (won), Best Sound, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography (won), Best Film Editing (won)