The first half-hour is basically an introduction to the people aboard the S.S. Poseidon, an outdated cruise ship making its final voyage from Athens to New York. The passengers and ship staff include: a police detective and his former-prostitute wife (Ernest Borgnine and Stella Stevens); a retired couple (Frank Albertson and Shelley Winters) going to see their grandson for the first time; a teen girl and her obnoxious younger brother (Pamela Sue Martin and Eric Shea); a lonely businessman (Red Buttons); a singer (Carol Lynley); a bartender (Roddy McDowall); and an unorthodox priest (Gene Hackman), whose defiance of his church superiors has resulted in his banishment to a third-world country (a mission that the priest embraces). Granted, some of these characters border initially on stereotypes, which is surprising considering that Stirling Silliphant (In the Heat of the Night, Route 66) co-wrote the screenplay. However, as the film progresses, Silliphant reveals hidden depths to some of the passengers.
|Gene Hackman and Pamela Franklin.|
|Borgnine as the detective Rogo.|
|Oscar nominee Shelley Winters.|
Although Borgnine gives one of his best post-1960s performances and Winters has a great scene, acting honors go to Gene Hackman. His high-octane performance propels the film and reaffirms his status as one of the most versatile actors of his generation.
|The flop sequel with|
Michael Caine & Sally Field.
Thirty-three years after the original film, two remakes appeared: a made-for-TV version with Rutger Hauer and 2006's Poseidon, a lively remake helmed by Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot). Though the latter is quite watchable, I recommend sticking with the original if you're in the mood for a suspenseful movie about an overturned ocean liner.