(aka Terror on the Britannic
) is a 1974 thriller film directed by Richard Lester and featuring an All-Star Cast
headed by Richard Harris
and Anthony Hopkins
An extortionist hides six time bombs on a cruise liner, the SS Britannic
, and demands a £500,000 ransom in return for information on the bombs' locations and instructions on how to disarm them without setting off their booby traps. A Navy bomb disposal team, led by Lt Commander Fallon (Harris), is flown out to the ship and attempts to disable the bombs, while on land a team of investigators led by Superintendent McLeod (Hopkins), whose family are on board the Britannic
, race against time to uncover the identity of the bomber.
This film contains examples of:
- Alan Smithee: After Richard Lester had the screenplay substantially rewritten by an uncredited Alan Plater, the original screenwriter asked to have his name taken off it, and the on-screen credit is given to the pseudonymous "Richard De Koker".
- Crapsack World: The steamship company is losing money and its government subsidy is in danger of being pulled, the weather on the crossing is miserable, the passengers are grumpy despite the overly-cheerful cruise director's best efforts, and then they discover there are bombs on the ship.
- Foreshadowing: Early in the film, a member of the bomb disposal unit named Charlie mentions to his boss Fallon that he's passed on an opportunity to take a different job. Later, while both Charlie and Fallon are disarming two separate bombs, Fallon quips, "Haven't I told you about death? It's nature's way of saying you're in the wrong job." Shortly thereafter, Charlie's bomb goes off, killing him.
- Genre Savvy: One of the passengers is Mayor Corrigan, a cynical politician, who quickly sees through the captain's attempt to keep the presence of the bombs a secret.
- Heroic BSOD: Fallon has one.
- Phone-Trace Race: This trope plays out when the bomber calls to ask if the ship's owners have decided to pay the ransom yet. They successfully trace the phone that the call is coming from, only to find that it's just a relay, attached earpiece-to-mouthpiece to another phone which is receiving another call from the bomber's actual location.
- Ransom Drop: The bomber specifies a place and time for the ransom to be dropped off; the police stake it out, but the pick-up is made by a hireling who doesn't know who he's working for.
- Time Bomb: Six of them hidden in various parts of the ship and set to go off when the extortionist's deadline expires (plus a smaller one set to go off at the same time as the extortionist delivers his demands, as proof that his threat is not a hoax).
- Wire Dilemma: In the days before this was a tired cliché, everything comes down to Richard Harris, a pair of wire cutters, and two wires. The police back in London have captured the bad guy, and he tells them to cut the blue wire — so now the question becomes, do you believe him, or cut the red wire?