Linda Rogo: "So that's the cat this ship is named after, huh?"
Captain Harrison: "That's right, Mrs. Rogo. The Greek god Poseidon. God of storms, tempests, earthquakes and other miscellaneous natural disasters. Quite an ill-tempered fellow."
A 1969 novel by Paul Gallico, The Poseidon Adventure became a film in 1972 co-directed and produced by Irwin Allen (starring the Queen Mary).On New Year's Eve, the passengers and crew aboard the SS Poseidon party without a care in the world. Despite protests from its captain, the ship, which is on its way to the scrapyard, still sails on across the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Already behind schedule, the new owner's representative refuses to let the ship slow to take on ballast to help ride out some bad weather. Meanwhile, an undersea earthquake strikes near Crete and creates a massive tidal wave. When the wave hits the Poseidon, she capsizes. Now, one lone preacher, Rev. Scott, must get a group of survivors up to the bottom. But will they make it?A sequel, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, was made in 1979. Meanwhile, the original story was remade twice within the course of six months around 2005-2006, as a made-for-TV movie and as the feature film Poseidon; the latter production featuring the Queen Mary II.
The 1972 film features examples of:
Action Dress Rip: The women are wearing long gowns for the party, and have to remove them to climb out of the ballroom.
An Aesop: Scott repeatedly makes the point that God helps those who help themselves, and this philosophy drives his actions through the plot. At times it reaches the point that the Aesop seems to be "doing anything at all is always better than waiting for outside help".
Doomed Contrarian: Played deadly (and immediately) straight with the purser and the people who stay with him. Conspicuously averted with Rogo, the most contrary member of the main group and one of the few survivors.
the first one is actually subverted in the book, where the people who stayed in the ballroom are the first to be rescued.
Inspired By: The author was on the RMS Queen Mary during World War II, when it was hit by a rogue wave and was a degree or so from being capsized. Naturally, he was inspired by what might've happened if she DID flip.
The Load: Mrs. Rosen is convinced she's going to be this, but winds up as (you should pardon the expression) a huge aversion.
Lovable Coward: Nonnie in the film. However, this is quite subjective, as her cowardice almost gets her killed a few times.
Mood Whiplash: Mrs. Rosen, despite being an overweight woman in her fifties, gets a triumphant moment wherein she manages to swim a great distance underwater to rescue Rev. Scott — then she suffers a fatal heart attack.
The movie itself starts out as a kind of ensemble comedy, and then the wave hits...
Nobody Calls Me Chicken: James has to "motivate" Mr. Rogo to continue after Rev. Scott dies, especially since it's right after Linda's death.
James Martin: Are you quitting, Mr. Rogo? Are you going out with a whimper, on your belly?
Oh Crap: The Captain's reaction when he spots the wave heading directly at his ship.
Olympic Swimmer: Averted-Belle *was* a champion swimmer, but that was when she was young; it's too much for her heart when she tries to swim through an underwater area on the ship. She saves Scott, but dies after.
Jerk Ass: The cruise director, who babbles about Rogo's job as Sea Marshal, does his utmost to keep everyone in the dining room when the ship is obviously sinking, and hordes painkillers for himself when they could be used on other survivors. He also yanks a woman off the christmas tree as he tries to escape the flooding dining room.
Karma Houdini: The cruise director. While he does die with everyone else in the dining room, we don't get to see it.
Large Ham: Acre, in his role as a vampire in Dylan's movie.
The Load: Averted with Ballard. Despite having a broken arm, he's able to keep up with the survivors, and manages to survive the sinking.
No Name Given: The surviving crewman with the rope (the credits list him as Kemal), and the surviving terrorist (Badawi).
Senseless Sacrifice: Once again, Belle suffers a heart attack after getting a guide-rope through a flooded hallway...except there was no reason for her to go in the first place, as the corridor wasn't completely flooded; anyone on the party could have done so just fine.
Shout Out: Captain Paul Gallico is named after the author of the original novel.
Spared by the Adaptation: Reverend Schmidt (while he's technically not Reverend Scott, he does fufill the same role and purpose).
Super Cell Reception: Rachel is able to send out a wireless e-mail from the ship's internet lounge after it's been capsized.
Tempting Fate: Mrs. Rosen mentions to Martin as they climb the ladder in the air shaft that if they come out of it together, she'll be eternally grateful to him. Guess who dies just moments later when Martin steps in front of an open vent and is met with a faceful of rushing water, causing him to crash into the opposite wall and plunge to his death at the bottom of the shaft.
Belated Backstory: As the novel progresses, many of the survivors begin to discover Reverend Scott in a new light (most of which is based on their own assumptions) involving Scott's former career as a football star and what drove him to become a reverend.
James Martin, the meek haberdasher, and Hubert Muller, the San Francisco bachelor searching for love, are combined into Red Butons' character for the movie, so that Buttons end up with Nonnie (as Muller does in the novel).
Peters and Acre, the two stewards, become simply "Acres" in the 1972 movie. Same for the 2005 movie, except the steward's name has returned to "Acre." Apparently it was decided to drop the character Peters; like Acre in the novel, both composite stewards suffer a leg injury during the capsizing of the ship.
Heroic Sacrifice: Reverend Scott. Belle Rosen does get her chance to swim, of course, but only has a heart attack later on AFTER Reverend Scott perishes.
Irony: At the end of the novel, the characters discover a different, larger group of survivors who apparently had a far easier time making their way to safety by taking a route other than the one Reverend Scott pushed. This is averted in the film, where the remaining members of Scott's group learn they're the only survivors.
Or maybe not quite averted; the sequel Beyond the Poseidon Adventure does involve another group of survivors, albeit ones with no connection to the first group. They didn't have that easy of a time getting out, either.
Jerkass: Some characters in the novel are a lot less sympathetic than in the movies.
Virtually anyone that chooses to stay in the Ball Room. Shockingly, however, it is revealed at the end of the novel that all those people SURVIVED. Also Mr. Kreynos, the third engineer who, moments after the ship capsizes, rambles on about taking his position in the Engine Room to investigate the cause behind the accident. He blindly stumbles into a pool of oil that has formed beneath the Grand Staircase and drowns in the mess.
And then comes the sad case of Linda Rogo, who rebels and tries to find her own way during the climb through "Mount Poseidon" in the Engine Room. In the darkness, she loses her balance and falls to her death on a piece of steel below, impaling her through the chest.
Write What You Know: Paul Gallico was actually in a ship hit by a tidal wave. If the wave would have been even a little stronger, the ship would have capsized. From there, Gallico started thinking about characters in that particular situation...