Directed and Produced by Irwin Allen
Screenplay by Nelson Gidding
Based on the novel by Paul Gallico
It doesn’t surprise me at all that it took Irwin Allen seven years to come up with a sequel to his disaster movie masterpiece “The Poseidon Adventure.” He did come up with a story soon after that movie in which the survivors had to go to Vienna to testify in a hearing as to what happened on The Poseidon. While on a train to the hearing, the survivors would be trapped in a miles long tunnel that collapses, trapping them inside. The rest of the movie would have them struggle to find a way out.
For some reason that was never filmed but the premise was reworked and used for the Sylvester Stallone movie “Daylight.” You’ll have to tell me how it works out because for some reason I’ve never seen “Daylight.” Don’t ask me why.
Anyway, apparently it took Mr. Allen that long to come up with another story. In the interim, Paul Gallico, the writer of the original novel had written a sequel of his own. The sequel was to his novel and not the movie. But don’t worry; the movie BEYOND THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE has no relation to the novel written by Mr. Gallico and I give thanks for that. If you’ve read “The Poseidon Adventure” you’ll know why I say that. There’s a popular school of thought that says that movie versions of novels are never as good as the books. Well, “The Poseidon Adventure” is a movie that goes against that school of thought as it’s far better than the novel. The characters in the novel are vile, despicable people who I was rooting for to die. There’s no heroism in that book, nobody to root for. Unlike the movie which shows us that anybody is capable of rising to meet an extraordinary challenge.
But that’s enough of that. We’re here to talk about BEYOND THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE so let’s get to it.
On the same New Year’s Eve that The Poseidon gets turned topsy turvy, Captain Mike Turner (Michael Caine) and his plucky crew (Karl Malden and Sally Field) are struggling to keep his tugboat afloat. Now, what in the hell a tugboat is doing way out in the middle of the ocean in international waters is never explained. All you have to know is that Turner loses his cargo and that means he’ll also lose his boat to the bank as he was depending on that cargo to pay off his mortgage.
As fate would have it, Turner and crew come across the wreck of The Poseidon and Turner aims to go aboard and claim salvage rights. He figures that he can get to the purser’s office he’ll find valuables in the safe that he can use to get his boat out of hock.
Dr. Svevo (Telly Savalas) and his crew who represent themselves as medics who received the ship’s SOS join them. Now, what in the hell a crew of medics is doing just joyriding way out in the middle of the ocean in international waters on New Year’s Day is never explained. All you need to know is that five minutes after Turner meets Svevo he’s got the feeling the good doctor is fulla bovine excrement.
Making their way inside The Poseidon through the same hole in the hull that the survivors of the previous movie escaped through, they quickly become trapped inside the still sinking ship themselves. Turner and the others encounter survivors still aboard: ship’s nurse Gina Rowe (Shirley Jones) the obligatory passenger with a deep dark secret Suzanne Constantine (Veronica Hamel) the obligatory pain in the ass Frank Mezzetti (Peter Boyle) and his daughter (Angela Cartwright) crewman Larry Simpson (Mark Harmon) billionaire Dewey “Tex” Hopkins (Slim Pickens) and blind businessman Harold Meredith (Jack Warden)
Turner finds the purser’s office and the safe. And inside the safe he finds stacks of cash, industrial diamonds and gold coins, more than enough to get his boat out of hock. Dr. Svevo and his men also find something as well; a cache of plutonium. Svevo is actually a terrorist who has nefarious plans for the plutonium. And he’s more than willing to kill Turner and the others to insure they won’t tell the outside world of those plans. As decks continue to flood and explosions rock the ship it becomes a race for the two groups to get off the doomed ship, battling each other and time.
I realize I’m in the minority here, but I actually think it was a smart idea for Irwin Allen to go with a plot that is just as much an action/adventure thriller as a fight for survival. After all, we got the fight for survival in the first movie. The plot with the terrorists and the plutonium may be out of left field but let’s face it, if you’ve bought everything up until now, why not go along with the rest?
There’s a strong line-up of actors in this movie and while nobody is trying to win an Academy Award, nobody is phoning it in either. Telly Savalas is in full Ernst Stavro Blofeld mode here, managing to be pleasantly menacing and ruthlessly charming at the same time. Peter Boyle is saddled with the unfortunate task of being the Ernest Borgnine stand-in here but he and Caine do appear to be having a good time barking and biting at each other. If there is anybody who can be said to be coasting, it’s Sally Field. Basically she’s playing her character from “Smokey & The Bandit” here. The similarity even goes so far as to her being nicknamed for an animal in this movie just as she was in “Smokey & The Bandit.” In that movie her nickname was ‘Frog.’ Here, Turner nicknames her ‘Monkey.’ And how can you go wrong with Michael Caine, Karl Malden, Slim Pickens and a baby-faced Mark Harmon all in the same movie?
So should you see BEYOND THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE? Sure, why not? It’s nowhere near as good as the original, but then again, it’s not trying to be. In fact, you could watch this movie without ever having seen “The Poseidon Adventure” and be satisfied. It does its own thing and it’s satisfied with that. I wouldn’t say it’s a movie that you should run out and buy but if you’re channel surfing and see it’s on; you wouldn’t be wasting your time giving it a watch. It’s what I like to call a Solid Saturday Afternoon Movie. Enjoy.