Yesterday my family and I went to a local theater to see a 1972 classic – The Poseidon Adventure.

I have always loved this movie. I saw it in the theaters back when it first came out, even though I was only 8. Every Easter and Christmas break my mom would take us into New York City for one day to see a movie, usually at Radio City Music Hall, and have lunch. I was surprised she did it, now that I think back. Dragging three young girls into the mean streets of the big apple back in the 70’s was no walk in the park. This was before Giuliani cleaned up Times Square. Back then it was filled to the brim with sleazy strip clubs, and most movie marquees had three XXX’s on them.

In any case, I was thrilled to see that one of our local theaters was going to show this mother of all disaster films. Whenever it’s on television my girls and I snuggle in and watch. I know way too many lines by heart, and have grown to love or hate each and every character. But to see it again on the big screen? I was simply quivering with anticipation! I called my sister and my niece who were only too eager to accompany us, and also invited my daughter’s boyfriend and her parents who, shamefully enough, had never seen this epic tale of terror on the high seas.

As we settled into our balcony seats and the movie began, a feeling of dread began to creep over me. While I have watched this movie at least 45 times on television, I failed to notice that in order to give the illusion of a rocking ship, the camera was moved back and forth and up an down and back and forth – for like the first 40 minutes!

Now I don’t know if you are a new reader or not, but I’ve blogged in the past about my inability to hold my lunch down during certain movies that utilize the “shaky camera” technique. I had to abandon the theater during both Cloverfield and Chronicle to avoid puking up bucket loads of popcorn and diet Coke. But please dear God, not during this movie! I will admit, I did feel a bit queasy a time or two, but the thrill of Gene Hackman leading our star-studded cast to safety kept my belly relatively quiet.

Oh, and how I enjoyed myself! Being in a theater, it was hard to not speak along with the movie, especially one with so many memorable quotes like:

  • How many more lives!
  • To love, dummy!
  • You took from me the only thing I ever loved in the whole world. My Linda!
  • You had a lot of guts lady. A lot of guts
  • I’m going next. So if ole’ fat ass gets stuck, I won’t get stuck behind her.
  • Come here you lousy cop…
  • Please God, not this woman
  • There he goes, that’s my old man. Everything by the book!

When you watch it in your living room, you can also point out all the errors and oddities, but in the theater, it’s obnoxious to nudge your neighbor and say “if the boat is tipping over, why aren’t the chairs falling?” In actuality, the chairs stay ON the ceiling, but not like chairs that may have been positioned properly and then bolted into the floor.  These chairs are haphazardly scattered about and pushed back from tables – sort of like if everyone got up at once because the boat was tipping over.

Plus, every single female star managed to get felt up at one point or another by one either Red Buttons, Ernest Borgnine or Gene Hackman. It’s hysterical. They are all under the guise of helping the poor, bra-less, wet turtle necked damsel in distress, but none the less, there was some serious cup-age going on.

And isn’t Gene Hackman supposed to be a man of the cloth? Before the boat tips, he is dancing with a gal on each arm, swigging champagne and toasting to love. I think he was close to saying “Ahoy Matey” to his chastity that New Year’s Eve.

In any case, the movie is campy and wonderful, and every single thing the survivors has to endure is plausible. That’s what makes it a great movie. Now a days disaster movies put the stars in these impossible situations that they manage to get out of by some miraculous stunt, like driving a car out of an airplane in flight, or walking a tightrope over lava while holding 7 orphaned children.

So next time you catch this movie on television, pop some corn, arrange the sofa cushions and sit your ass down. Take it all in; the 7o’s cruise ship fashions, bad hair, language that’s only as filthy as “God dammit” and Stella Steven’s ample bosom. Get lost for an hour or two – Gene Hackman will guide you safely home.

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