Monday, May 29, 2006



OK, I just want all of you to plunk down in front of the nearest TV and play your tapes of The Poseidon Adventure, the 1972 original directed by Ronald Neame and starring practically everyone who really matters. I want you to do this BEFORE seeing the remake currently out in theaters. I adore the remake, but it is an entirely different movie. The original has a special message in it for YOU AND ME.

Shelley Winters is the one everyone immediately thinks of, AND RIGHTLY SO, when this movie is mentioned. Why? SHE'S ONE OF OUR OPERATIVES, IS WHY. The director fills every scene with subtle touches that ONLY A FISH CAN READ:

>> Consider the cruel irony of Belle Rosen's final hours on dry land: she has to climb like a monkey to stay ABOVE water long enough to get the undesirables off the Poseidon before it can sink, at which point she can complete the orientation of all the new recruits waiting below decks.

>> This is painfully foreshadowed in her conversation with her human husband, Manny. They have longed all their lives to get to the point where they can relax and go to their spiritual home, Israel, where they will finally meet their first grandchild. Then the dang ship sinks! How perfectly this mirrors Belle's REAL SITUATION, unknown to anyone, even Manny: SHE has been waiting HER entire life to enter the sea and stay there, but first they have to make this crazy pilgrimage to a frikkin' DESERT. But then this fantastic mass-recruitment opportunity comes up, moving her final promotion YEARS closer. But to complete the job she has to FLEE THE RISING WATER. I never know whether to laugh or cry when I see this. It just captures so much of the painful fence-sitting we go through: stay a monkey or become a fish? Meet your destiny or just skip the whole thing?

>> I sure know it's time to laugh when the Odious Child character, Robin Shelby, compares hauling Mrs. Rosen up a companionway to landing a Tuna. Out of the mouths of babes, etc. I want you all to notice how skillfully Mrs. Rosen steers the conversation away from THAT topic.

>> Imagine trying to keep Gene Hackman from drowning, not so he can succeed in his crazy plan, but to get his self-centered monkey butt out of the orientation party. He is a perfect example of the kind of recruit we DO NOT WANT. Imagine having to rescue this guy without cracking up. Shelley Winters is a GREAT actress.

>> Imagine having next to fake your own death well enough to convince your husband of over 30 years. Convincing Manny she was really dead was crucial. She had to make sure he saw to the needs of their desert-bound daughter and grandson, THE NEXT GENERATION OF OPERATIVES. This business is tough sometimes. Here is a fine example of why.

>> On top of it all, she had to play dead LONG enough for the others to get out of sight. I don't know about you, but that would have been brutal for me. The icy saltwater, lapping at your ankles as if to say, JOIN US...but not quite yet!

If you haven't seen this movie yet, SHAME ON YOU.


Blogger Ur-spo said...

waiting with baited breath for a new entry to this blog......

7:28 PM  

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