"The Poseidon Adventure"
Starring: Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons, Carol Lynley, Roddy McDowall, Stella Stevens, Shelley Winters
DIR: Ronald Neame
We have spoilers - including reveals of which characters die.
Scene 01: Our movie opens with the credits over an ocean liner making its way over rough seas, backed by an orchestral score (by John Williams).
Commentary: I've seen far worse models in a tank of water, but you can tell despite their best attempts to cover for the fact. You just can't make anything floating on water look like something it isn't, at least without a lot of CGI trickery. This being an early 70's film, practical effects is what they had, so that is what we get. Things will definitely improve immensely once we're on-board.
Scene 02: On deck, being lashed by wind and rain is a small boy in rain slicker. Over the boy struggling against the elements we get an unnecessary plot description.
The child is alone on deck, and struggles against the howling winds up a flight of stairs.
Scene 03: Cut to the bridge, where the Captain and crew struggle to control the vessel in the high seas.
Commentary: Having grown up watching "Airplane!" about a million times, I immediately wait for Leslie Nielsen (the Captain) to take a prat-fall, but no. This is an entirely serious role. I will point out that the man has such blue eyes... like electric blue....
The Captain calls down to the engine room, under the watchful eye of some man in a suit, who I instinctively take a disliking to without him doing anything. It's the "What do you think you're doing" look he's giving the Captain, I think.
Scene 04: In the engine room, the Engine Chief is summoned to speak to his Captain. We immediately get some idea that there is something less than optimal with the S.S. Poseidon. One, the Captain is complaining about the stabilizers. The Chief tells him there isn't anything to be done with them, because there isn't anything wrong. But he also shares that Two, he's got his hands full trying to keep a pump working.
Joe, the Chief, complains about the man in the suit being responsible for the ship's difficulty in staying level through the tossing seas.
After he hangs up, sharing mildly antagonistic looks with the Business Suit, we see the boy reach the top of the stairs. The bridge door opens and boy falls/stumbles onto the bridge. He's helped up to his feet. The Captain complains to him about being out in such dangerous weather, but the boy - who is Robin Shelby - reminds him that he said he could visit the bridge at any time. It's a peculiar time to choose to visit, but Robin says the waves don't bother him. He's used to surfing in 18-footers, but the Captain points out that they're dealing with 35-footers at the moment.
Putting aside the bad-timing of our guest's visit, the Captain gets back to his job. A particularly powerful wave hits the vessel and it tips alarmingly, before leveling back out... mostly.
Robin is, nicely, escorted off the bridge. The Captain tells him he would love to continue their discussion about waves at a quieter time.
As soon as Robin is out of the door, the Captain turns on Business Suit. The Captain warns that the latest wave nearly rolled them and as soon as the pump issue is resolved, he's taking on more ballast to counter their top-heaviness. The Business Suit only smirks in his direction, apparently not taking the danger to the ship seriously.
Scene 05: Below decks, the Ship's Doctor and Shelley Winters-look-alike Nurse go from cabin to cabin. They've been inundated with complaints of sea sickness due to the ship's rolling back and forth. They visit two of our principal cast in their quarters. These are Linda and Mike Rogo (the fabulous Stella and the gruff Ernest). Linda is the reason for the call, as she complains she feels like she's dying.
Mike Rogo complains bitterly about waiting all morning just to have Linda waved off with a bunch of pills. Mike complains that Linda could have something else, as the Doctor hasn't even examined her, while Linda pleads with her husband to just shoot her, already. In the meantime, the nurse readies a thermometer and takes her pulse and such, just to ensure that there are no symptoms pointing to something other than motion sickness, which three quarters of the passengers have a case off, thanks to the storm.
Mike further accuses the Doctor of covering up a case of food poisoning. A head of steam now, he yells that his wife can't swallow pills, when she can't even keep a glass of water down.
The nurse, amusingly, points out that they aren't pills... she makes a motion to point out that they're suppositories and shouldn't be taken orally. Mike doesn't know what those are, but Linda does and yells at them to just go.
Commentary: And I'm noticing that everyone with blue eyes have really, really blue eyes. Huh.
Mike yells at the Doctor and Nurse as they're leaving that he still thinks it's food poisoning. Linda miserably tells him to shut up and flops down onto her bed.
Scene 06: We get more (unfortunate) shots of the ship. Now, though, it is bright and sunny out. Our focus switches to a funny, skinny man power walking the decks. This will be James Martin (Red Buttons). As he passes an elderly couple in deck chairs, he wishes them a good morning by name. They are Mr. and Mrs. Rosen (Jack Albertson and Shelley Winters).
Manny and Belle are our new focus and we get irrelevent details about their lives pre-disaster, as this is an Irwin Allen produced film. Belle is concerned with Mr. Martin's perceived loneliness. Manny is flipping through brochures for Israel, pointing out the land tours available. Belle lets us in on the fact that they're going to see their grandchild for the first time, immediately marking one or both of them for a tragic death.
Scene 07: Another transition with a shot of the (model) ship plying its (tank) waters.
We meet now another of our principals ... Gene Hackman, who is Reverend Scott. He is telling someone else to get on his old knees and pray to God. He's not dressed as a preacher, so we don't know he's a man of the cloth... nevertheless, we're a bit nonplussed when he announces that prayer is garbage. We're even more stunned when we see he's said this to a man with the whole collar thing going, which seems unnecessarily rude.
Reverend Scott tells the other minister that where he came from, praying for heat in the winter would only get you ice growing on your palms. His brand of preaching, which has gotten him into trouble with his superiors, we'll find out, is the ol' self-reliance sort of preaching. "God helps those who help themselves", and all. Reverend Scott explicates that he's been stripped of most of his clerical duties for his rebellious attitudes and sermons.
"John", his pastor friend greets his embracing of his 'punishment', which we find is to be banished on a missionary assignment to some remote corner of Africa, with good humor. It becomes obvious to us that John and Reverend Scott are something of old friends, despite their age difference.
Scene 08: On the bridge, weather reports are given to the Captain. The Captain is relieved to hear that their path ahead is clear and smooth. He orders a continuation of slow ahead while they take on that extra ballast he'd wanted. Business Suit is not pleased by this and orders the Captain to order the ship at full ahead. Obviously, he's the representative of the company that owns this ship, so my utter distaste for him was right on the money. He'll no doubt prove to put the ship's schedule ahead of safety, and will undoubtedly die.
The Suit calls the Captain to the side (but speaks more than loud enough for everyone on the bridge to hear) and fills us in on the situation. A new company has bought the Poseidon and this is her last voyage. She's on her way to a scrapyard, and he's pissy because they're behind schedule thanks to the storm they passed through. The consortium which bought the ship for scrapping is keeping a crew on standby, and it's costing them thousands a day. Captain Nielsen has obviously commanded the vessel for some length of time and has a sentimental attachment to the ship, but Suit tells him that if he doesn't order full ahead, he'll relieve him of duty and put someone in charge who will follow the orders of the people paying the bills. The Captain relents with severe displeasure, reminding Suit of the risks they run due to the ship still being top-heavy.
Scene 09: In the ballroom, Nonnie Parry (played by Carol Lynley) is running through a practice set for the New Year's Eve party on board. In the foreground, we see that the waitstaff is setting out dishes. As Nonnie sings on, we focus attention on another of our principals... this will be waiter, Acres, who doesn't get a first name. Let's just call him Roddy. So, Roddy Acres leans against a rail and listens to Nonnie sing "There's Got to be a Morning After".
Commentary: In a nice bit of continuity that you may not notice the first time through: Note the way the ship's ballroom is swaying, following the order to proceed at full speed in keeping with the ship's stabilizer being unable to cope with its being top-heavy.
Scene 10: In one of the suites, we return to Robin (Eric Shea) and discover that he's traveling with his older sister, Susan Shelby (Pamela Sue Martin) to meet up with their parents. As hinted by his impromptu trip to the bridge during a storm, Robin is a bit of a ship nerd. He tells his sister all about the powerful engines driving the ship, but she's not all that interested.
They received a cable from a steward. It is from their dad, wishing them a Happy New Year's Eve.
Susan insists Robin get in and shower so they can go to church service on board. He does so, but only after being a brat about not being able to go wander the engine room and propeller shaft.
Scene 11: Transition with ship on sea.
Reverend Scott preaches his special brand of "God won't help you, help yourselves instead". His message is similar to the 'Prosperity Gospel' in that his message is that God wants people who will fight for themselves and contribute to greater humanity, not quitters who whine for Him to solve all of their problems. It's not a message that resonates with John, but he also doesn't interrupt.
Commentary: I understand why this scene is here - Reverend Scott's "take care of ourselves" beliefs will be instrumental in his taking charge when things go pear shaped - but this scene is always one that I zip through. We already got the point when he spoke to John before, so this is a bit redundant. They could have edited this down to two sentences and gotten on with the next scene just fine.
Scene 12: Another ship on the sea transition... wow, way to embrace that theme. (On the plus side, the model is less apparent when it's all lit up against a nighttime backdrop.)
On the bridge, the evening shift is going along quietly.
Scene 13: In the Rogo's room, Mike and Linda are arguing about going to the dinner. Linda has self-esteem issues and worries about other women looking down on her (for reasons we'll get to).
Mike points out it's a big deal to be invited to the Captain's table on New Year's Eve. She returns that the only reason they were invited at all is because of his status as a big shot detective.
Linda's real issue quickly becomes apparent. She used to be in 'the business' and doesn't want anyone she 'knew' before to recognize her. Mike points out how silly that is, considering the odds, but Linda reveals that she saw a crewman who looked pretty damned familiar to her. She's embarrassed and humiliated about her past, even though Mike Rogo has apparently accepted it and married her anyway, despite it. He points out that she isn't in the line of work anymore and shouldn't keep worrying about it.
Linda's real concern beyond herself, is that she'll humiliate him by being recognized by a former John. He tells her he doesn't care if there is someone on board who recognizes her, that he married her anyway because he loved her. She yells that he first arrested her six times!
He abashedly admits that he did this to keep her off of the streets until he could figure out a way to get her to marry him. Well, this is the sweetest thing that she has ever heard, and their argument is quickly thrown to the side for canoodling.
Scene 14: Cut to the ballroom, where the New Year's Eve party is underway. Nonnie is singing the only song she knows, apparently, as we get another rendition of "Morning After".
Commentary: Weirdly, even though she's singing a ballad and you'd expect slow dancing, everyone is beebopping around in complete anti-time to the music!
Our POV drifts to a table where Mr. and Mrs. Rosen are seated with nameless extras and Mr. Martin. They're to the dessert portion of the meal and he pulls out a baggie of pills -- all of the various forms of vitamins. Mrs. Rosen is sweet, but she's a busybody who expresses concern for Mr. Martin's not having a wife and busying himself with his health craze.
He tells her that he'd love to find the right woman, it's just never happened. He owns a habadashery and it takes up all of his time. The Rosens sympathize with this, as they just retired after selling their hardware business.
Attention turns to a crewman, who is heading this table, but who's title I don't know. Mrs. Rosen asks after his marriage status, and he makes a deeply lame joke about his mistress, the sea - which takes Belle a few moments to get. -Laugh, Laugh - Where's the disaster, please?
Scene 15: Oh, hey! Ask and I shall receive: On the bridge, the First Officer receives a telegram from a seismic station on shore that there has been an undersea quake detected. He checks the radar scope and we see a long, dark line at the edge of the scope.
Scene 16: At the Captain's table, Mrs. Rogo is speaking to the Captain about the ship's namesake. At this table are Mike and Linda Rogo, The Captain, No-Names, Reverend Scott and Business Suit. The Captain mentions that Poseidon is god of storms, earthquakes, tidal waves, etc. just as his table phone's red light goes off calling his attention to the bridge. He makes his exit with apologies and Business Suit follows.
With the Captain called away, Reverend Scott takes over keeping conversation going at the table. Roddy Acres comes by and fills champagne glasses.
At another table, the Chief Purser entertains the Shelby kids and No-Names. We notice that Susan Shelby isn't paying any attention at all. She has obvious eyes for Reverend Scott in her teen idealized love way that could have gotten him play, if only he wasn't a reverend. Anyway, it takes her apparent date some effort to gain her attention so they can leave the boring Purser to go dance.
Commentary: And, perhaps it's just me, but I find it funny that the first thing Susan does when they reach the dance floor is to sway her way into facing the opposite direction from her dance partner.
Scene 17: In the meanwhile, Captain Nielsen and Business Suit Guy have reached the bridge, where the First Officer points out the frightening target on the radar screen. A call is put through to Athens for more information on the reported seaquake. Athens reports that there was a major bottom displacement and there was a large sea swell reported.
The Captain asks if they're all battoned down, which is confirmed.
Commentary: Now, I always thought you'd want to head toward deep water if you could because that way you'd barely notice a seismic wave passing under you, but the ship doesn't alter course. This will prove to be unfortunate.
Scene 18: Back in the ballroom, we get a drum roll and the announcement that midnight is nigh. Everyone stands with their glasses of beverage in a celebratory mood. Mr. Martin seems a little more subdued than those around him... being lonely, which busybody-Mrs. Rosen notes. She invites him to stand next to her during the coming toast.
We get the last 10-seconds counted down and then the ballroom erupts with cheers and laughing and kissing and drinking and music and merry-making.
Scene 19: Back on the bridge, Captain Nielsen sees on the radar scope that the wave displacement seems to be piling up in the shallows. It is traveling toward them at 60 knots....
We quick jump to the ballroom where everyone is singing together.
Back to the bridge where the Captain is all worried and stuff and telling the lookout to keep a sharp watch toward port-bow.
Ballroom: Still more celebrating....
Bridge: Lookout announces huge wall of water racing toward the ship....
Ballroom: Singing and dancing....
Bridge: Captain Nielsen sees huge wave racing toward his suddenly tiny looking ship... exclamation points to them being royally screwed. Orders ship turned into wave... late... and sounds the alarm for general quarters.
Ballroom: Alarms breaks in on revelry and everyone wonders what is going on... is this a "New Year's Eve" thing... but isn't that an alarm... why isn't it stopping...?
As we'll also remember, there was that stabilizer issue that caused such problems during the earlier storm. As the ship turns hard in an attempt to keep the wave from hitting them broadside, the whole thing tips, causing more concern among the ballroom guests over this sudden turn of events.
Bridge: Captain Nielsen contacts radio room to issue a mayday call immediately.
Ballroom: Everyone is standing into a lean now, as the vessel continues to tip at an angle with WTH looks on their faces.
Bridge: On the bridge, Captain Nielsen looks momentarily stoic, before throwing his arms up in front of his face. Business Suit guy may be crapping his pants and hopefully reflecting on that top heavy issue that the Captain complained about. Out the front windows, the wave crests down on top of them...
Ballroom: The ship is severely tipping onto its side now, as everyone screams and yells and tries to hang on for dear life (literally) to each other and whatever is nearby. People begin to lose their feet and tumble down the incline into the far wall of the ballroom.
Bridge: Captain, crew and Business Suit brace for impact with looks of horror...
... And the wave sweeps over the ship, inundating the bridge and radio room in tons of water!
Scene 20: Belowdecks, in the ballroom, the passengers situation goes from terrifying to catastrophic. The ship doesn't stop leaning to... in fact... in continues rolling over!
Now, the bodies and objects in the room really start flying around as everything tumbles toward the new ship's floor. One man and woman are crushed by a rolling piano. A piano that is soon falling from the new cieling as the ship completes its capsizing. People scream and fall from tables they aren't strong enough to hold onto.
The guy who asked Susan to dance falls from a table down onto a glass lighting panel that was in the ceiling and is electrocuted to death.
There are explosions from deep within the ship as it settles topside under water and all power is lost.
Scene 21: In the wreck of the ballroom, Susan's dance companion lies dead. People cry in the background as the emergency lighting comes up on a scene of devastation.
Everyone starts to come around... the Reverend lies next to a woman with wide still eyes... she's decked out to look like Linda Rogo, so we thinks she's among the dead... but it's not her.
Commentary: Spoiler, though - it is a portent of doom.
Belle Rosen comes to and cries out for her husband, Manny, who also survived. Linda sits up next to the Reverend, so we can see that the dead woman we just saw wasn't her. She asks what happened and Reverend Scott reports their upside down position. Mr. Rogo crawls up beside his wife and panickily asks if she's alright.
She asks him where the hell has he been, which he responds to with a where the hell do you think I've been....
Commentary: The Rogos are one of those couples who seem to be constantly bickering, but you can also feel the deep love between them. Linda Rogo could easily have come across as a relatively unpleasant shrew, but Stella Stevens doesn't let this happen, always having something in her tone or a look of vulnerability that keeps us understanding that she isn't as hard as she tries to appear.
In another part of the overturned ballroom, Mr. Martin uses his jacket to cover another woman lying dead with wide, staring eyes.
Back with Manny and Belle, they cuddle while she tearily prays in Hebrew. At the same time, Reverend Scott has returned to his feet and hears a crewman pleading for help. He goes over, but there isn't a lot to do for him, as he's suffering puncture wounds and is bleeding out from the chest.
Back at the bandstand, Nonnie crawls on the floor and calls for 'Teddy' (this will be her brother and bandmate).
With the Reverend, the crewman spends his last moments trying to get the passengers to go to the lifeboat stations before expiring.
Scene 22: In the center of the room, the Chief Purser calls for attention. He's got a broken arm, but grits through it to try to calm his passengers. While he's telling everyone to remain where they are and to stay calm, assuring them that Poseidon has water tight compartments to protect them, Robin is walking the floor calling for sister, Susan.
Susan has found herself on the underside of a table, which has remained bolted to the used-to-be-floor. She calls down for some help in getting down.
Reverend Scott takes charge, tearing a curtain down to spread as a fireman's net and instructing Susan to jump. She isn't crazy about this plan. But, since Susan has a bit of a crush on the older Reverend, when he asks her to trust him, she does and takes the leap, being momentarily rescued.
Right after Susan's rescue, the huge and metal-skeleton Christmas tree that decorated the ball room comes unattached from the floor above their heads. It causes a mad scramble as it crashes down on the capsize survivors.
The Purser quickly re-establishes calm, stopping a general panic from ensuing. With relative quiet restored, Roddy Acres calls down from where he's become trapped on the former riser, now balcony that had lead to the supply closets for the servers. Like Susan, he is trapped above the reconfigured ballroom.
Scene 23: The Reverend quickly pulls his curtain-net team together again for Acres to jump. But James Martin points out to Scott that they should be heading upward, not having Acres come down. He reminds Scott that any rescue attempt will have to come down through the hull of the ship. This realization makes Scott rethink things and he informs Acres that they're going to find a way to join him up in the corridor, instead.
Mike Rogo (who will take 'doubting Thomas' to obnoxious levels) questions how anyone could come after them through the solid steel of the hull. Robin, ship's afficionado, points out that the steel is much thinner near the propellor props. This is enough to give Scott a target to reach and he looks around for a way to get everyone up and out of the ballroom of certain death. The answer is the metal monstrosity of the Christmas tree that had so recently tried to crush them all to death (and succeeded in taking out at least one extra). He asks for help in moving the heavy thing and levering it up to lean against the balcony where Acres waits with his injured leg.
Rogo objects strongly to this plan, insisting that they follow the Purser's instructions to stay put and stay calm. Scott shocks Rogo by using salty language to order him to help them wrestle the tree into position. Linda helps by screeching at Mike to help the Reverend. He capitulates, as he always does when Linda puts her well-shod foot down.
The Purser is the next to object, despite a certain logic in climbing upward. He insists that leaving their position will get everyone killed. He states that everyone needs to stay where they are until the rescuers can locate them. As we've learned though, Reverend Scott is very much of the "God helps those who help themselves" school of thought. He tells the Purser to get out of the way.
The tree is very heavy, being made out of steel, but it is finally leveraged into being raised and leaned against the balcony. The next challenge is to try to convince people that they need to fight for themselves and join Scott in making a break for the bottom, now top, of the vessel. The Purser takes extreme exception to this and insists that everyone stay where they are or die.
Commentary: While Scott is, naturally, correct because he's a star and the Purser isn't, he's also so obnoxious that it's easy to see why people might not follow him up just to spite him.
Scene 24: With the tree at least somewhat secured (I severely doubt Acres' ability to hold it in place if it should slide, however), Scott chooses Robin to monkey his way up the tree skeleton so they can see if it will even allow a path through it. Robin excitedly agrees.
Martin is sent to round up as many as will join the escapees. Rogo and the Mrs. have another brief argument when she has to remove her gown in order to climb. She'll spend the rest of the movie in her underwear, her husband's shirt and silver heels.
Mr. Martin has run into resistence to the idea of wandering the ship's bowels looking for a miracle exit, however. He tries to impress on the Purser the logic of not remaining below water deep near the now bottom of the vessel waiting for rescuers to cut through the ship's hull and then make it all the way down to them. The Purser is insistent that they follow protocol (and there is more than a hint of ego involved with his "I'm in charge here" attitude) and stay put where they are so rescuers can locate them.
In the meantime, Mrs. Rosen gives her necklace (she wears two - her women's association medal for swimming and a symbol for life) to her husband for their grandson. He doesn't understand what she's doing, but she points out that she's too old and overweight to go climbing and offers that she's going to stay with the rest. Well, Reverend Scott isn't about to listen to that nonsense. He badgers her into getting up off her ample ass and making the attempt for life.
Mr. Martin is in a state of despair meanwhile as he's surrounded by 'watermelon watermelon' mutterings, but no one is willing to risk going. He sees Nonnie stroking the hair of someone who is lying still against the wall (this would be brother, Teddy). He goes up to her and insists that she needs to come with him.
At first she's resistent because she can't leave her brother, but he breaks through her shock and haze by pointing out that her brother has died.
Scene 25: With all of the stars going up the tree, except Gene, he goes up to his host, Pastor John. He asks him what he thought of his sermon earlier. John tells him that he only preaches for those that already have strength. He wonders about what he'd do for those without it.
Commentary: Which, of course, is the anvil that will explain the difference between those who will join Scott and fight to live and those who will remain below and die... like John. Very amusingly to me in a gallows way, is that John tells Gene Scott (Reverend doesn't get a first name either, so...) that he expects they're all going to die... while he's sitting there tending a woman who's listening in on all this. Nice. And, you'd think that would be an impetus to her to say "hell with that, I'm going", but she doesn't because she's a dayplayer and things never work out good for them.
Scott gives one more fiery speech about fighting to live, but he's shouted down and ordered to stop harrassing the rest of them by the Purser. He leaves to join the few (all the stars) who've decided that trying for the surface is better than sitting in a watery grave and waiting.
Scene 26: As our stars start their journey, more explosions rock the ship... the sea pours into the ballroom below, causing a panic. Everyone turns on each other as they all decide suddenly that they should have climbed the tree after all. Because there are no more stars on the floor, however, none of them make it due to the tree falling over under the weight of the mad scramble to get up it and Reverend Scott is forced to leave, closing the corridor doors on the screaming mass of soon-to-be-drowned people left behind.
Scene 27: With them on their way, the survivors' first obstacle is a fire door in their way to the kitchen. A firelight is on in the corridor outside it, indicating that the galley has had a fire break out. The theory is that the firedoor would stop fresh oxygen from flooding into the room, and thereby snuffing out a flash fire. Scott decides they have to risk opening the door to see if they have an escape route to follow. Mike Rogo disagrees vehemently, but Scott uses his force of personality to overrule his objections.
Rogo joins him a the firedoor to re-close it behind him, while Scott checks out the condition of their route to the innards of the stricken ship.
Scene 28: In the ruins of the kitchen, fire still spouts from the gas jets on the stoves, but the explosive flashfire is out as the firedoors were designed to do. The place is littered with the corpses of the galley staff.
Scene 29: Back with the rest, everyone is getting restless waiting for Scott to make his return. Martin tries to tell Rogo that they need some alternate plan, although they really seem to be stuck with this one passage, so....
Fortunately, Scott does make a triumphant return, reporting that their way is clear. The Reverend and Rogo get into another brief ego-conflict, but really, like I said - they don't have any choices here.
He warns about the dead bodies and tells them to avoid touching anything because the metal is still hot to the touch.
Scene 30: Mrs. Rosen is the first to have a freak out over her fear of the fires burning. She insists they'll go back, but Mr. Rosen has a clear head about their chances if they don't push through and bullies her to go forward.
Next is Susan. She sees one of the cooks staring wide-eyed and scorched lying on the deck (well, ceiling that is now the deck) and grabs at Scott to bury her face in his shoulder. He impatiently throws his coat over the dead man and pulls her forward.
Commentary: I'll admit that I'm a bit impatient with the women here. Which is why I like Linda Rogo so much. This is all traumatic, but if you keep stopping to have a freak-out at everything you're going to die. Worse, you're going to drag down everyone else with you. Press forward and have your breakdowns after, damn it. We haven't gotten to the worst of this though. That will be provided by the constantly whining Nonnie later. Thank you, Linda, for being a practical, fight for life and save the sentimentality kind of gal.
Scene 31: Our group makes it through the galley and into a passageway beyond without casualties. They have to next go up a flight of upside down stairs onto the deck above their heads.
Scott goes first, hauling himself up what amounts to a steep plank. He looks for something to help the others up. In the meantime, below, Mr. Martin finds a firehose to use.
Commentary: And they'll all use it a bit laboriously for little actual reason, except to highten tension that we'll get to in a moment. This little detail has always stuck in my craw because Scott made the climb with only moderate effort. It seems like the only ones who would require this help (and thereby slow things down) is Mr. and Mrs. Rosen and maybe the near-helpless Nonnie, and Acres due to his leg injury sustained during the rollover. Everyone else, especially the Rogos, strike me as having ample opportunity to have made the climb on their own, already, while we're playing around with getting the firehose in place to use as a sling. There is a bit of small amusement as we see Gene Hackman come close to getting beamed in the face with the steel hose clamp thingie at the end of the hose.
Scott asks for Acres to come up first, as he'll need his assistance with navigating the interior of the vessel. Rogo shares some more words with Scott, not liking the way he keeps being ordered around. Scott suggests that he doesn't like his attitude because he and Rogo are two of a kind and the cop doesn't like looking at himself. Scott tells him to help the others and Rogo gives a sarcastic "Yes, Sir!"
Scene 32: While Rogo works to bring up everyone, Scott helps Acres (whose leg was cut open during the capsize, so he limps and hops throughout) down the latest corridor in an effort to discover where they need to go next to work their way up and back toward the propellor shaft.
The Reverend mentions the lights still on in the corridors and Acres let us know they're on emergency battery power. They have about 3 hours to get to where they're going before they're plunged into absolute darkness. They're progress is blocked, however, by a full corridor collapse and what appears to have been a fire or explosion from somewhere ahead of them. Acres reports that there is no other way to get off the current deck, but Scott isn't buying that and orders him to think of a way.
Commentary: Which you should immediately ignore, as there will not be any light issues and yet when the survivors are rescued, it is broad daylight, so they were afloat upside down far beyond a mere three hours.
Scene 33: Behind them, Belle is being hauled up the plank, though certainly not easily. Robin gets a hilarious aside when he assures Mrs. Rosen that it'll be alright, as he helped to pull a 650lb swordfish with his father off the coast of Hawaii.
Scene 34: Back with Acres and Scott, they've located an engineering section gated off and break into it. There they find a ductwork tunnel leading to the smokestacks. All of the floors are connected to these through similar ductwork, allowing them a path to proceed upward and onward.
Scene 35: In the meantime, as the others continue to haul up, they discover they've made a possibly fatal error. The firedoors weren't closed behind them and the seawater from the by now full ballroom has caught up to them. There is plenty of screaming and a rushed ascent for the remainder, but everyone survives... though if they don't get a move on, they may not have to worry about the lights going out.
Commentary: I love this scene, again for no-nonsense Linda Rosen. Stella Stevens is terrific as a survivor under pressure by the 'weak' people around her. Here, Nonnie stands screaming her fool head off, frozen as the water rushes up her calves. Linda finally grabs her, shouts in her face to shut up, and then bodily drags her to the firehose and practically yanks her arms off to get her moving. Go, Linda!
With all of the screaming, Scott has rushed back to the others. He sees the water chasing them and herds them to the shaft they have to crawl through. Belle is immediately dubious about her ability to fit through, but her husband scoffs that she isn't as big as she always thinks she is.
Linda, bless her cynical heart, insists on going ahead of her in case, "old, fat-ass" gets stuck. (I know. I should totally not be grinning at that and I wouldn't be if Belle wasn't constantly lagging behind with her "I can't" attitude.)
As James Martin and Nonnie follow up in the rear, Martin sees the sea water rushing onto the current deck.
Scott and Rogo are in the lead and they make it to the central shaft. Below them, water roils. Behind them, water is rushing toward them through the ductwork they're all in.
(Continue to Part II )