The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

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Released 30-Oct-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Featurette
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1972
Running Time 112:12
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (58:23) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Ronald Neame

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Shelley Winters
Gene Hackman
Stella Stevens
Ernest Borgnine
Red Buttons
Carol Lynley
Roddy McDowall
Leslie Nielsen
Case ?
RPI $23.95 Music John Williams

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Czech
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    The Poseidon Adventure could easily be considered producer/director Irwin Allen's finest movie. Even though actual directing credits are given to Ronald Neame, Allen certainly had a large hand in directing the movie. Others would offer up Towering Inferno, made a couple of years later as his best effort, but there can be no denying that The Poseidon Adventure is probably one of the best 'disaster' movies to be made during the halcyon years of the 1970s. Sporting a quality cast and featuring many of the finest effects for its day, this is a movie of almost two hours duration that views as well today as when it was made.

    The SS Poseidon is on its final voyage with a cast and crew of 1400. The captain of the ship, played by Leslie Nielson is worried that the ship is top-heavy whilst navigating a storm in the Mediterranean and orders the ship to slow down while the ballast pumps are repaired. Meanwhile, the passengers are doing what passengers do aboard ship and begin preparing for New Year's Eve on-board. During the celebrations, the captain is called to the bridge when an underwater earthquake, registering over 7 on the Richter scale is reported off the coast of Greece.

    Just as midnight tolls and the passengers begin celebrating, the crew spot a wave over 300 feet high heading straight for them and sound the alarm, but it is too late. The ship, which was already running with light ballast, turns over with the might of the wave and suddenly the passengers are trapped on an upside-down ship foundering in the middle of the sea. Reverend Scott (Gene Hackman) convinces several of the passengers to come with him and try to escape the ship by climbing up to the engine room where the hull is the thinnest. Following him are Rogo (Ernest Borgnine) and his wife Linda (Stella Stevens), Martin (Red Buttons), Acres (Roddy McDowell), Nonnie (Carol Lynley), Belle and Manny Rosen (Shelley Winters and Jack Albertson) and finally brother and sister Robin and Susan (Eric Shae and Pamela Sue Martin).

    They spend the better part of the movie trying to find their way through an upside-down nightmare, outracing the water that is slowing enveloping the ship and reducing the number of air pockets left. As they venture further into the ship's bowels, various calamities befall them, explosions rock the stricken vessel and water races in as she settles deeper and deeper, threatening to slide to the bottom of the sea. Although the acting is a little kitsch by today's standards, this is nonetheless an excellently-paced movie that has a certain charm to it, despite the lack of overpowering special effects. A movie like this made nowadays would be smothered in CGI, but the lack of this is admirably overcome with some excellent stunt work and attention to detail on the sets.

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Transfer Quality


    For a movie that is nearly 30 years old, this certainly has stood the test of time better than one might have expected. Although definitely not up to the standards of current day movies, this isn't as shoddy as some movies of this vintage I've seen.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, almost the same aspect ratio as the original theatrical presentation (2.39:1) and 16x9 enhanced.

    Overall, the sharpness of this transfer isn't the best, but the blame for that can probably be laid directly at the source material rather than the transfer. There is some light edge enhancement on show but nothing that would attract undue attention. Shadow detail is very good for a movie this old with a decent amount of background detail visible. This is also the case for fine detail which can often be lacking in older movies transferred to DVD. There was no real problem with low level noise with a fair variety in the shades of black presented. The only real problem was in regards to the grain. At various stages throughout the movie it becomes very noticeable, especially in the outdoor shots, but for the most part it is simply persistent at best.

    The colour has a pretty diverse palette to call upon and makes the best use of it. There is plenty of variety on offer with only minor oversaturation noticed, but nothing too unnatural. Skin tones looked natural during most of the movie and colour bleed was not an issue.

    From the start of the movie, you will notice many little flecks and spots occurring at random intervals. Although persistent, they are not prolific and for the most part you won't be bothered by them. There were no MPEG artefacts noticed and no aliasing or moiré effects on offer which was pleasing. One nice point about this is the model and matting work was free from the most obvious defects. The models most certainly didn't stand out although the matting was a little obvious at times. The only real problems of note were some slight creases in the picture at 20:57 and 21:00, a line down the screen at 73:44, a watermark or slight tear in the picture at 105:13 and a slight shunt (possibly a missing frame or shudder from the telecine machine) at 49:19.

    The subtitles for the movie utilise a decent font for once and are located in the standard bottom part of the screen. They are reasonably accurate to the movie and easy to read.

    The layer change occurs at 58:33 and is positioned mid-scene at a cutaway, but is very noticeable and badly located, interfering with the sound as well and causing a minor dropout.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    This is certainly a movie that is solidly set in the 1970s as far as the audio is concerned. Strictly mono, although the slick mentions it being in Dolby Digital 2.0/Mono at 192 kilobits per second. I certainly got nothing from anything but the centre speaker on my setup, probably because it correctly decoded the sound as Pro-Logic. A little bit of research into the movie tells me that it was released in Mono initially, but that there were some stereo prints released. Overall, given the nature of the movie, the dialogue-driven way it is made and the lack of any really punchy music, I wasn't that disappointed.

    The dialogue is clear at all times without exception but some of the syncing is a little out of whack. If you listen closely, some ADR can be noticed during some scenes, but for the most part unless you are specifically watching for the disparity it won't be too obvious. There was some minor hollowing of the sound at different points, possibly due to the age of the original source material, but nothing nasty. There was one minor dropout due to the layer change.

    The music is credited to John Williams and was nominated for an Academy Award (which is a little surprising). It is fairly uninspiring in my opinion and the only time I really noticed it was during the opening and closing credits. There is a boppy little song composed by Al Kasha and Joel Hircshhorn titled The Morning After which is played by the band that play at the NYE party (and in rehearsals). It can also be heard throughout the movie like an underlay, exceptionally quiet and almost unnoticeable. It was a minor hit in its day if I remember correctly. Overall though, there is little music on offer here and for the vast majority of the time the dialogue or sound effects take priority.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    With a running time of 9:34 this could be said to be nothing more than an extended trailer with some minor commentary from Gene Hackman, Irwin Allen and Ronald Neame. It explains the story, shows some of the sets and for the most part is softly focused and badly oversaturated. It also gives away the ending to a degree. Snips from the movie are in 1.85:1 and not 16x9 enhanced and this is strictly for movie buffs.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is presented in Full Frame with letterboxed 1.85:1 non-16x9 enhanced movie clips with a running time of 1:28 with sound effects from another classic movie made by Irwin Allen. Nothing special here and looking every inch its 30 years of age.


    Pretty standard fare, although the biographies are surprisingly very complete. Carol Lynley, Shelley Winters, Red Buttons, Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine and Stella Stevens all rate a mention here.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   There doesn't appear to be a lot of difference between the Region 1 and Region 4 release of this disc.

    The Region 1 version of this DVD misses out on:

    The Region 4 version of this DVD misses out on:

    All things considered, plus taking into account the price of the disc locally, I'd say the Region 4 production is definitely the disc of choice for me.


    The Poseidon Adventure is probably one of the most famous movies of its ilk with a good cast and a storyline that still makes it watchable. This is a movie that deserves a place in anyone's collection. At least now you don't have to put up with watching it only on TV.

    The video is actually quite good all things considered. Not the best transfer ever, but definitely decent for such an old movie.

    Strictly a mono affair in regards to the audio, which isn't too hard to handle considering that's all that was ever on offer during its theatrical run for the most part. Decent without being outstanding.

    The extras aren't that interesting, but then I wouldn't have expected much. At least we got a better deal than the Region 1 release for a change.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Carl Berry (read my bio)
Monday, December 10, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Xelos (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderRotel RSP-976. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationRotel RB 985 MkII
SpeakersJBL TLX16s Front Speakers, Polk Audio LS fx di/bipole Rear Speakers, Polk Audio CS350-LS Centre Speaker, M&KV-75 Subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
David Arnold's ID4 score is an obvious homage to John Williams' Poseidon theme. - Christopher
R4 better than R1 - Michael Q