It’s Flashback Friday!
This Week’s Flashback Movie….
Release Date: March 28, 1980
Runtime: 121 minutes
Studio: Warner Brothers
Director: James Goldstone
Cast: Paul Newman; Jacqueline Bisset; William Holden; Edward Albert; Ernest Borgnine; Burgess Meredith; Red Buttons; Veronica Hamel; Alex Karras; James Franciscus
This is your typical Irwin Allen disaster flick that offers no new surprises and doesn’t stray from his well-worn formula.
There was a time in the 1970’s when the name Irwin Allen was synonymous with “disaster.” That was actually a good thing. The prolific producer, nicknamed “Master of Disaster,” is credited with more or less creating the period’s sub-genre ‘disaster movie’: get a bunch of stars together, place them in peril, and watch them try to escape. That formula served him well with the enormously successful “The Towering Inferno<" and "The Poseidon Adventure." But as the decade wore on, people began to have their fill of disaster epics. Similar films such as "Earthquake" and the "Airport" series were also vying for box office and the attention of the American public. But Allen soldiered on, producing the killer bee extravaganza, "The Swarm," and the "Poseidon" sequel, "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure." He capped off his disaster-ous career with "When Time Ran Out," a silly opus about an erupting volcano in Hawaii.
The film closely sticks to the outline: stars (Paul Newman, Jacqueline Bisset, Ernest Borgnine, Burgess Meredith, William Holden, James Franciscus, Alex Karras, Veronica Hamel); peril (monster volcano erupts and lava is heading towards the hotel where all are gathered); escape (group must risk their lives to get to the other side of the island to safety). So, nothing new on that front.
However, considering the budget which must have been pretty damn high, the film looks and feels like a cheapie B-movie. The special effects, for one, look tacky. The lava flow is obviously a screen projection and the fiery explosions look pasted on. In fact, most of the special effects consist of flashing lights and lots of smoke, with the real danger substituted in later. I realize that in 1980 green-screen techniques were not at the level they are at today, but these effects really screamed FAKE!!! The island sets just reminded me of something you’d see at an amusement park.
As with most of the disaster genre, the performances are not the strong suit and not what the audiences were paying money to see. Paul Newman looked like he was pissed that he even had to be in this thing. The other group members suitably fill their roles (Bisset as the love interest, Sylvia Allen (the director’s wife) as the middle-aged mother figure, Edward Albert as the handsome young man assisting Newman, etc.) and collect their paychecks. You can kind of tell that all of them are bored.
As a result, the whole movie was just….eh. Nothing special here at all, as you’ve seen it all done before in better disaster movies and with more energy. Unless you’re doing a retrospective on Irwin Allen and are watching your way through his catalogue of movies, there really is no reason to seek this one out. In fact, rent "The Poseidon Adventure" instead.