Scene 36: In the shaft, Scott leads the way up, followed by Linda as her husband helps everyone else.
Commentary: We spend a lot of time looking up Mr. Rogo's shirt at Mrs. Rogo's panties, which seems a bit too gratuitous to me. But, it also makes me kind of admire her more because she's doing all of this physically strenuous stuff dressed in nothing but a shirt, her underwear and a pair of very impractical silver heels. Again, I say, "Go, Linda!"
After Robin climbs out onto the ladder and Mrs. Rosen is waiting to climb up behind him, Robin has another nice moment when he apologizes to her, looking guilt-stricken. She has no idea what he's talking about and he clarifies that he hadn't meant to imply that she was as heavy as the swordfish in his tale. She tells him he's a sweet boy that he'd be so worried about that of all things, considering their current predicament.
Alas, we're going to get a first casualty here. And, it's someone that they kind of needed with them.
As Acres is making his way up, there is another explosion from deep in the ship, probably those boilers. He's knocked off of the ladder, and though Rogo dives in after him, there is another explosion. Rogo comes up to the surface and is able to regain the ladder - injured, doomed Acres isn't.
On the ladder, Nonnie is paralyzed with fear, blocking James and Mike's progress behind her. Rogo bitterly yells at her, but Martin takes a more gentle tact and gets her climbing again.
Scene 37: Most of our survivors have made it out of the ductwork, now. Nonnie is being all traumatized on the ladder, so her, James and Mike are stuck behind. As Belle Rosen worries over the explosions they all just felt and heard (and which killed Acres), Linda Rogo spots a row of passengers numbly making their way down the corridor abutting theirs.
Among this second group of survivors are the doctor leading the procession and the nurse-who-looks-like-Shelley-Winters-but-i
The doctor is leading everyone toward the bow of the ship, which Scott correctly tells them is where the ship is settling. We can easily tell this (and so should anyone with a lick of sense) because of the angle of the corridor. It's facing downhill toward the bow of the ship. Scott, as is his habit, takes to yelling at them over their suicidal choice and unsurprisingly convinces no one. He watches them shuffle forward, knowing that they're going to end up underwater and drowned if they don't stop and turn around. The Doctor though refuses to believe because of the explosions that he is convinced has destroyed the engine room, making it impossible to go that way.
Commentary: Despite Scott's insufferable attitude, I always found this scene a bit sad. I'm not convinced that the doctor even believes that the bow will lead to safety. I always get the feeling by his despairing anger that he feels like there is no hope, but that he is moving just so that the people under his care feel like there might be a chance. I think that Nurse-Not-Shelley actually does hold out real hope though, and it saddens me to know that she's walking down into certain death and instead of up toward a real chance.
But, we have no time for my touchy-feelies... we have to get into Mike Rogo and Reverend Scott's latest tiff.
First, the group reports the loss of Acres. Scott is pissed off. He asks Rogo where the hell he was, pointing out that he had the responsibility to get everyone up the ladder safely. Mike yells in his face that there was an explosion and Acres fell and that was that! It looks like he's about to pop the Reverend a good one, too. He's had just about enough of the angry man-of-God.
Martin asks Scott about the others and he tells them that they're heading for the bow. He yells down the corridor in their direction that they're wrong. Rogo yells some more that maybe they're all right and he's wrong... he hasn't seen the bow, so what makes him so sure he's right about everything.
Scott makes snotty remarks and they do get into a short tussle. When Martin gets them broken up, Mrs. Rogo yells at the Reverend to tell them what he wants them to do. Scott comes to a deal with Mike Rogo... he goes onto the engine room alone, but if he doesn't return in 15 minutes, then Mike can lead the others toward the bow to catch up with the doctor's group.
While the Reverend is off on his quest for the engine room, the others start searching their immediate area for anything they might need for survival ... food, flotation devices ... whatnot (most of which doesn't ever get used, so this is a time-waster).
Scene 38: Susan goes after Reverend Scott, because she has a crush on him. Mrs. Rosen wants to speak to her husband.
We jump to Scott making his way through the scorched and wrecked corridor. He sees the extreme condition of the corridor around him and we see a glimpse of the self-doubt he hasn't shown in front of the others. Susan interrupts him, and he looked like he may actually have been praying for some help. He asks why she's not with the others. She gives him the impetus to pick himself up and keep searching.
Scene 39: Meanwhile, back with Belle and Manny Rosen. Belle is struggling with despair that they'll never find their way out. He's all "we'll get out of this". She's tells him he's always been such a good man. They embrace.
Scene 40: Back with Susan and Scott - they find a sealed door and gingerly open it. Within is a hatch, that would have been on the floor leading down into the engine compartment beyond. He makes Susan remain there as he heads up to scope it out. He warns her that if he doesn't come back in a set amount of time, she's to return to Rogo and tell him to do it his way....
Scene 41: Back with Mr. Martin and Nonnie. They've located flashlights and are continuing the search for useful items. They locate the ship's barbershop. He makes a joke about a new way to snip hair, but this moment of attempted levity is aborted by Nonnie as she recalls that her brother had beautiful hair. It hits her full force that he's really dead back in the ballroom. She has a meltdown where she tells him she can't go on without her brother.
He tells her that she'll go on because people do, because we have to.
Scene 42: Back with Susan, she's getting increasingly frantic as Scott doesn't reappear.
Scene 43: Meanwhile, Robin has wandered away from everyone else. He sees the upside down sign for the lavatory and goes in to check it out.
Scene 44: Back with the re-assembled group, minus Robin, the Reverend and Susan, Mike Rogo is inventorying what they've found. Among these is a bottle of brandy, which Linda is busy gulping. Rogo points out that it has been fifteen minutes and Scott still isn't back.
Mr. Rosen wants to wait a few more minutes, but Mike and Linda are ready to get moving. Susan comes back at that moment, near hysteria to report Mr. Scott's (interesting that she refuses to call him by his title) foray through the hatch, his instructions to her and the fact that he hasn't made it back. Mike tells the others that that tears it and it's time to admit that the preacher was wrong about the engine room as a means of escape.
Mike is just shouting down Mr. Martin's and Mr. Rosen's plans to go after Scott and find out what has become of him, when Scott makes his triumphant return to report that he has seen the engine room and it is passable.
Commentary: And, he's just as smug, condescending and snotty as he has been throughout this whole disaster. It's only because this is Gene-effing-Hackman that stops me from hating Reverend Scott. Somehow, Hackman has the acting chops to ensure that I remain on his side... though not happily on his side.
He orders them all to follow him, but Susan realizes that Robin hasn't come back necessitating that Scott send her to lead the others to the hatch, while he goes off after her brother.
Scene 45: Robin hears his name being called and exits the men's room into Scott's arms, but not before another explosion rocks the vessel. This lets in a flood of water that threatens both with a quick and brutal drowning.
Commentary: On repeat viewings it started to occur to me that with the number of explosions going off on this thing, it shouldn't even be intact anymore. You'd think the keel would have been blown wide open by now and they'd all be on a quick trip to the bottom.
Miraculously, Scott is able to manhandle Robin to the hatch. He nearly drowns again after getting Robin up through it when the currents threaten to push him under water, but wrestles himself up. He's able to close the hatch behind him, keeping the water from filling the compartment they're in this time.
Scene 46: Scott leads them down a half-deck to a corridor that leads to the engine room and the propellor shaft beyond. But, there's a problem. The corridor has flooded because of the latest round of explosions to rock the ship. Now, they're going to have to swim through it to come up in the engine room proper, which is a half deck above them and should still be water free. He takes a rope from Rogo and one of the lanterns that James Martin and Nonnie collected.
With him having to swim and obstacle course through a corridor to the other side with a lead rope for the others, Belle Rosen gets a thoughtful look on her face. She suddenly becomes concerned with how long Scott can hold his breath. She begs to be allowed to do this for them. You see, back in the day, she was a championship swimmer. Scott points out it's only thirty-five feet or so, but she tells him that they've been pulling her through this whole ordeal, and this is finally something that she can do. He very sweetly kisses her, but goes himself.
Commentary: Belle keeps changing which necklace she's fiddling with in this shot, so it looks like a continuity error - but isn't, actually, although it is confusing with her fiddling first around her throat and then lower around her chest and then back again.
Scene 47: Underwater, Gene bumps his face right into a railing, but Scott continues to swim through the corridor anyway. Topside, Mrs. Rosen continues to fret that she's the only one who has ever been trained for this sort of activity (nevermind the fact that she was seventeen then). Linda finally has enough and snaps at her (I don't find her as charming as before... poor Belle Rosen, she only wants to not feel like a fat anchor the others need to drag along).
Scene 48: As Mrs. Rosen frets and Linda bitches, Scott gets his rope tangled up. As he tries to free himself a damaged iron door that was blown off its hinges but is lying against the wall shifts and falls over on top of him, pinning him to the floor without the leverage to get free. Up top, Rogo suddenly worries that the lead rope isn't feeding anymore, but Scott hasn't given it a hard tug to let them know that he's through.
Scene 49: Linda yells for her husband to pull him back. Meanwhile, Belle gives her husband her belt and one of her necklaces (and this is a continuity error because she clearly removes her long chained necklace in order to swim, but this is also the necklace she gives to Scott to give to her grandson). She dives in after Scott.
She's able to free him and they're both able to make it to the other side, where the engine room is nearly completely destroyed, but is passable up to the shaft that is their goal.
Scene 50: "You see, Mr. Scott, in the water I'm a very skinny lady."
Unfortunately, Belle's heart is still the pumper of an old, obese woman.
She falls back into the water and now has to be rescued herself. Scott is able to drag her a bit out of the water. He tells her to hold on, but she knows she's having a fatal heart attack. She tells Scott to give her swimming medal necklace to Manny to give to their grandson when they're rescued. She has another attack, her eyes go wide, and then she stills.
"Oh, God... God... not this woman! God, not this woman," Scott sobs.
Commentary: Am I embarassed to say I weep a little myself here every time I watch this? A little. But I pin the blame on Gene Hackman... his line delivery is amazing here and it chokes me up every time.
Scene 51: Back with the others, fear is setting in because Scott still hasn't tugged the damned rope. Rogo has had enough of waiting and goes in to follow them and find out what the hell is going on.
Scene 52: Meanwhile, Scott has managed to get Rosen out of the water and lifted her ... hmmmm... to a beam, where he sets her down (we only see the very tail end of this). He backs away and then sits heavily, staring at her corpse with a look of sorrow.
Scene 53: Rogo asks what the hell happened, as their was no rope-pulling. Scott describes being trapped and Belle saving him. Mike starts to give her big kudos for the heroism, until Scott grabs his arm. Mike realizes that Mrs. Rosen isn't just 'resting' after her ordeal.
"Oh, Jesus!" Scott sends him back to tell the others to come through and warns Rogo not to tell Mr. Rosen anything. Just before returning, Mike respectfully tells Belle that she had a lot of guts.
Commentary: This is another great scene that Borgnine really nails down. And his "You had a lotta guts, Lady... a lotta guts" is perfect for Mike Rosen's hard-nosed personality.
Scene 54: Scott puts his angry grief behind him and focuses on find their way out. He finds the door into the propellor room on a fragile looking catwalk above him.
Scene 55: In the meantime, Rogo has returned for the others, reporting they got through. Mr. Rosen asks about his wife and Mike just repeats that they got through, but Manny senses that something happened....
Nonnie tells James Martin that she can't swim and she's afraid to go into the water.
Commentary: Nothing against Carol here, because she does a fine job with her stunned grief and then her despair, but Nonnie has gotten on my last damned nerve. The woman hasn't done one useful thing this entire adventure and every single obstacle they've come across, she's been ready to throw in the towel and die.
Scene 56: Naturally, we get plenty of shots of Stella in her panties underwater and fighting with Mike's rising and billowing shirt.
When their the only ones left, James again convinces Nonnie that they can't just stay behind if they want to live. He assures her that if she just holds onto his belt, he'll pull her through.
Scene 57: Meanwhile, Mr. Rosen has made it to the other side. He lays down next to Belle, cradling her and weeps.
He's joined very shortly by Robin, Susan, Linda and Mike. Nonnie and James are still several seconds behind the others. Everyone looks on with sympathy and shocked grief at Manny crying over Belle.
Underwater, Nonnie can't even hold her breath right and starts trying to take a breath as James struggles to get her up to the surface. He does so, but she's the only one that's choking on water.
Scene 58: Scott returns and yells at everyone to get up and keep moving. Rogo complains to him to have a heart, but he bluntly yells back that Mrs. Rosen is dead and they can't bring her back. He urges them that she would have wanted them to keep striving forward toward survival and yanks Nonnie to her feet to get everyone moving.
This doesn't work with Mr. Rosen, who tells him that his place is by his wife's side. He tells Rosen that Belle wanted him to give her swimming medal to her grandson from both of them. He promises to follow....
Scene 59: The others start their arduous climb up the inverted catwalk to the doorway they want. Around them, flaming oil burns.
As Rogo looks back for Mr. Rosen, we see him appear, keeping his promise to join the others.
Scene 60: Up on the twisted, precarious perch of the damaged catwalk, our survivors are almost home free... but almost doesn't mean much when you can't fly....
There is a deep rumbling from somewhere in the ship and poor, cynical, tart-mouthed Linda takes a header right into the concrete floor below... and into flames which quickly consume her.
This sends Rogo over the edge and he yells at Scott for being a liar and "taking away" the only thing he ever truly loved... his Linda.
Alas, the bad news doesn't quit coming as a last series of explosions rock the sinking ship (see my earlier point... why isn't this thing cracked in two already). The latest round causes a steam pipe to burst, sending boiling steam right onto the door crank between them and possible rescue... well, if it isn't one thing, it's another.
Scene 61: Rogo isn't the only one who's had god-damned enough. Scott is the next to go on a yelling jag, screaming at God for fighting against them. Well, he's come this far and he's gotten the people who survived this far and he's not about to lose now just because The Fates can be pricks.
He leaps out into space and grabs the wheel valve that controls the steam flowing through the offending pipe. He yells some more at God about how Acres wasn't enough, Mrs. Rosen and Rogo weren't enough, well if he wants another sacrifice then he can take him. He gets the steam shut off, yells at Rogo to get up and get the rest out, and then drops down into a pool of burning oil-topped water roiling water below.
Susan screams and screams, but he doesn't resurface.
Scene 62: Susan goes hysterical and tries to follow Scott down to his death, but James (who has shown remarkable restraint with Nonnie, so probably has a lot of frustration built up) slaps her.
Next he turns his ire on Mr. Rogo who ignored the Reverend's pleas to get them through for him and is sitting in shocked grief for Linda. He asks him if he's going to die with a whimper on his belly. That's enough to get Mike up off his ass and moving.
Scene 63: He's able, with a struggle, to get the handle to crank and to get them into the shaft, where they find pipes to bang on the hull with. When they get a response, there are cheers of relief and looks of longing back for Mr. Rosen and Rogo.
The rescue crew cuts through the hull and we get an abrupt ending of them being rescued.
The Good: From Scene 19 through to the end, the picture is constantly moving forward, giving our survivors continual obstacles and risks to their survival. It is always engrossing and some of the scenes are either very tense, or heartbreaking.
The principals are all strong, but especially Shelley Winters, Gene Hackman and Ernest Borgnine.
Some of the deaths took me by surprise... I wasn't expecting Belle or Linda to die.
The set design for the overturned vessel interior is exceptionally well done, but especially the ballroom and the corridors.
I really liked the chemistry between Borgnine and Stevens and between Winters and Jack Albertson.
The Bad: The ship's model is used much too often and it is very clear that we're seeing a model in a tank... in the day shots, it's dreadful.
The pace is really slow before the actual disaster as we have to "get to know our characters", none of which have an engrossing tale to tell. Scott's background is more interesting than anyone else's, but it's undermind by his boring sermon.
The Purser is unnecessarily assholish.
Other Thoughts: The constant yelling between Scott and Rogo starts to wear thin and so does Nonnie's utter lack of any survival skill whatsoever. I really liked Eric Shea's Robin and Pamela Sue Martin's Susan. I also thought that Red Buttons did a great job as the moderating James Martin. I do question a few minor things... mostly the confusion with Belle's constantly changing references to her necklaces, which start to look like continuity errors, until you carefully review what she's doing. Also, the constant explosions that put our cast in danger seems to have little actual impact on the ship's integrity and they use it as a plot device far too often.
The Score: I really like this movie a lot because all of the actors are talented and the characters, while not always likable (Scott, Nonnie, Mike Rogo) they're at least well-etched. I'm always taken by surprise at the lump in my throat for Belle Rosen's death which is almost certainly due to the magnetic performance of Gene Hackman. The beginning of the film can start to wear on a bit long, but once the disaster hits, the pacing improves dramatically:
4.25 out of 5