“It just so happens we’re in a hell of a mess.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
He adds that this “polished ‘commercial’ Hollywood film… might have been really something if Irwin Allen, rather than Seaton, had been director,” pointing out that “surely a hurricane and airport fire would have been thrown in for good measure.”
I’m glad Peary has an overall positive attitude towards this seminal disaster flick — which spawned not only three (inferior) sequels but a direct spoof — since I was pleasantly surprised by it myself. Indeed, I’m tempted to coin a new term — “competence p**n” — given how mercifully competent everyone in this wild adventure is: other than the known loose cannon (Heflin) and one buffoonish troublemaker on the plane (who eventually gets slapped by a priest!):
… each character does their level best to make sure the situation turns out okay. When have we seen such collective competence? Dear goodness, in the age of COVID-19 and all manner of other ecological, national, and global catastrophes, I could watch this type of scenario playing out — and being handled oh, so competently — all day long!
I care not a whit about the fact that sly Hayes (who won an Oscar for her supporting role here) continues eluding “the authorities”:
… or about the shenanigans inevitably going on between the men and their wives and mistresses; in fact, good on Lancaster for deciding that saving lives is more important than accompanying his wife on yet another pointless charity function.
Playing “spot the star” during this flick will have your head spinning; I’ll admit I didn’t even recognize Jean Seberg until I looked at the credits afterwards (she apparently wasn’t happy about her casting in this film, and that makes sense).
Heflin is especially good (and appropriately vulnerable) in his final role:
… and Stapleton is hugely empathetic as his wife.
This one remains worth a look.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: