The Poseidon Adventure hit theaters in late 72 and did well at the box office. About two years later, its debut on network television was also a pretty big hit. I definitely recall seeing it advertised quite a bit whenever it was about to appear on TV, and Amy and I were both really interested in watching. I can’t imagine we had that wish fulfilled when I was 10 years old, so it must be the case that my parents relented when it was rebroadcast later in the 70s (very likely after The Nancy Drew Mysteries started airing in early 77, as I feel certain I recognized Pamela Sue Martin—plus, I’m thinking I knew Roddy McDowall’s name from his voice work in an animated presentation of Kipling’s Rikki-Tikki-Tavi?—no, probably not from Planet of the Apes).
We’d seen a number of movies in theaters by this time, but they had mostly been Disney-type stuff. If this wasn’t THE first, it had to be among the very first of this kind of film I saw. It made quite an impression. The guy dropping into the ceiling light after the boat capsized, the Christmas tree falling over when too many people try to climb it to safety, Shelley Winters’s heart attack, Stella Stevens’s fall, Ernest Borgnine’s tough-guy whining, the sense of claustrophobia, Gene Hackman leaping to turn off the erupting steam valve, the happy ending for the six survivors—there are so many scenes and feelings that leap back to mind forty years later.
I had to have heard “The Morning After” well before I was aware of its connection to the film. Like “I’m Easy” three years later, it became a hit mainly because it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Unlike Keith Carradine, however, Maureen McGovern took her song all the way to the top. It’s on the way back down in this show, stopping off at #5.
I don’t think I ever saw The Poseidon Adventure all the way through a second time, but I had quite the visceral reaction to seeing the clips in the video below. Some things just do stay with you a mighty long time.
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