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Film: The Poseidon Adventure

From heaven to ɥǝll in an instant.
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 was adapted as a 1972 film produced and co-directed by Irwin Allen (and starring the Queen Mary).

On New Year's Eve, the passengers and crew aboard the SS Poseidon party without a care in the world as the ship, which is on her final voyage en route to the scrapyard, sails on across the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Already behind schedule, the new owner's representative overrides the objections of the captain and 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 rogue 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.

Gene Hackman plays a priest in it (though he doesn't even say Mass).

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.
  • Air-Vent Passageway
  • 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".
  • Anyone Can Die: Even more so in the novel, where Robin goes missing and isn't found again.
  • Award Bait Song: "There's got to be a morning after..."note 
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Rogo and Linda
  • Badass Preacher: Rev. Scott
  • Bedsheet Ladder: Discussed, but rejected as a way of climbing out of the ballroom.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Susan towards Robin.
  • Binocular Shot
  • Chekhov's Skill: Earlier in the movie, Mrs. Rosen proudly boasts that in her youth, she was a champion swimmer.
  • Commander Contrarian: Rogo. Full stop.
  • Developing Doomed Characters
  • Disaster Movie
  • Don't Look Down
  • 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 novel, where the people who stayed in the ballroom are the first to be rescued.
  • Enclosed Space
  • Fanservice: Dagnabit, that skirt Pamela Sue Martin is wearing is way too inconvenient for her to climb out of the ballroom in. Guess she'd better cut it off. Hilariously, the hefty Shelley Winters is not asked to cut her skirt off.
  • Fight To Survive: A very basic story in which the passengers struggle to stay alive and make it out after the ship flips over.
  • The Film of the Book
  • Foregone Conclusion: The intro blurb at the start of the film reveals that the ship is lost with only a few survivors.
  • Fully-Clothed Nudity: The fact that Linda is wearing "just panties" underneath her gown is discussed as if she were Going Commando, with her husband saying she's got "nothing on under it".
    • Well, she didn't have a bra on, for starters.
  • Giant Wall of Watery Doom:
    Lookout: I never saw anything like it. An enormous wall of water coming at us.
    Captain: (sees it) Oh, my God.
  • Good Shepherd: Reverend Scott.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Belle Rosen, Reverend Scott
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Linda Rogo was a hooker before her husband kept arresting her to keep her off the street.
  • Infant Immortality: averted in the novel, but played straight in the film.
  • 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...
  • Ms. Fanservice: Linda Rogo. "Just panties, what else do I need?"
    • Nonnie and Susan don tight-fitting hot pants through most of the film.
  • New Year Has Come: The wave hits immediately after the stroke of midnight ushers in the New Year. (This was a change from the novel, in which the ship capsizes on the day after Christmas.)
  • 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?
    Mike Rogo: All right, you. That's enough!
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Martin towards Nonnie
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Rogo, repeatedly, despite Robin having a comprehensive knowledge of the ship's construction.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Linarcos
  • 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.
  • Panty Shot: Linda Rogo many times, as she spends the 2nd half of the film wearing only a button-down shirt, and panties, which get soaking wet. Averted with Susan, who had shorts on under her skirt.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Reverend Scott has a yelling-at-God moment just before his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: The reason Rev. Scott is aboard the Poseidon; he's been sent to be a missionary in "some new country" in Africa.
  • Sexy Priest: Susan, at least, is clearly very attracted to Rev. Scott. Of course, part of that is Rescue Romance.
  • Sinking Ship Scenario: May be seen as the template for film portrayals of the scenario for decades to follow.
  • Skyward Scream: Or rather, Floorward Scream, from Susan after Rev. Scott's Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter: Rev. Scott, just before his death.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Robin
  • Tagalong Kid: Robin's somewhat a mixture of this and Bratty Half-Pint. Somewhat averted in the movie in that he arguably is the one who knows the most about the ship.
  • Tears of Fear: Nonnie does this, but given her situation...you'd be doing that, too!
  • Tempting Fate: They think they can get an aging ocean liner across the Atlantic — on her final voyage, no less — without a hitch? Not in Hollywood.
    • The 2006 remake inverts the situation but still plays the trope straight — the ship is brand new and is taking her maiden voyage.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Linda Rogo. In the novel. In the 1972 movie, her death is an accident. In the novel? She rebels and tries to find her own way out.
  • Twice Shy: James Martin and Nonnie Parry.
  • Unintentional Period Piece
  • Vehicle Title

The 1979 sequel, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure provides examples of:

The 2005 TV movie of the same name features examples of:

  • And Starring: Peter Weller. Some bait to draw you in is featured in the trailer when they refer to him as "Oscar nominee Peter Weller."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Most of Schmidt's group are rescued, but as Harrison points out, it's hard to celebrate saving nine people when thousands have died.
  • Death by Adaptation: Manny Rosen died of old age before the film begins, leaving Belle a widow.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Rogo, in both roles. He initially is harsh towards Badawi, then promises to help him see his family if he cooperates.
  • Good Shepherd: Reverend Schmidt, who is much calmer and even-tempered then Reverend Scott in the original film.
  • In the Back: Captain Gallico dies this way.
  • Jerkass: 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).
  • Random Smoking Scene: Schmidt and Rogo share a cigar after getting out of the air ducts.
  • Red Shirt: Kemal.
  • 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.
  • Taking You with Me: Badawi tries this near the end of the film. It doesn't work.
  • 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.
  • The Voiceless: Kemal, who never says a single word.
  • Token Minority: Kemal, the only non-white member of the survivors, along with the terrorist.

Paul Gallico's 1969 novel, on which the above films are based, provides examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Tony "The Beamer" Bates.
  • 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 minister.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Several characters to a certain extent.
  • Composite Character:
    • James Martin, the meek haberdasher, and Hubert Muller, the San Francisco bachelor searching for love, are combined into one character for the movie, so that Martin ends 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.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Linda.
  • 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.
  • Mauve Shirt: Peters and Acre.
  • Red Shirt: Kreynos, the third engineer.
  • Those Two Guys: Peters and Acre, the friendly stewards.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • 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.
  • The Unreveal: Robin's ultimate fate is never learned, although he was presumably killed in a stampede of panicked survivors after the ship's lights went out.

Alternative Title(s):

Poseidon Adventure