Sep 14, 2020
Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979) (part 1 of 8)
The Cast of Characters:
Captain Mike Turner (Michael Caine). A financially strapped tugboat captain who happens upon the capsized Poseidon and figures, hey, it’s not robbery if they’re all dead! To the extent that Beyond is a retread of The Poseidon Adventure, Caine definitely has the Gene Hackman role.
Wilbur Hubbard (Karl Malden). Mike’s right-hand man and old friend. Plotwise, he fills the Red Buttons role of Mike’s loyal supporter. But to make him more of a load, Wilbur is also suffering from Progressive Movie Disease, which creates periodic plot cul-de-sacs in which Wilbur tells Mike to go on without him. While we in the audience reply, “Good idea!”
Celeste “Monkey” Whitman (Sally Field). Wilbur’s “guest” aboard Mike’s tugboat. Celeste has the perky + clumsy = plucky story arc, and makes you root for clumsy to win out, especially when she’s climbing ladders or dangling from ledges. She also seems to have the Carol Lynley role from the original, that of the absolutely useless female love interest. I didn’t like her. I really, really didn’t like her.
Stefan Svevo (Telly Savalas). Too ludicrous to even describe. The character definition obviously stopped at “Let’s cast Telly Savalas as the villain.” Of course, The Poseidon Adventure had no overarching villain, so there’s nothing for him to step into in the retread. In fact, Svevo seems like a character totally grafted on from a particularly terrible episode of Columbo or McMillan & Wife.
Frank Mazzetti (Peter Boyle). A loudmouthed ex-sergeant who assumes and also ramps up the Ernest Borgnine role—challenging everything Mike/Gene Hackman says and does—to new heights of hysterical insanity. Add to that a violent objection to the very existence of his daughter’s boyfriend, and you have one disturbed and annoying character.
Harold Meredith (Jack Warden). Yes, it’s Jack Warden, as Blind Harold. How can we make things more complicated for the hero? I know, we’ll stick him with a blind guy! This is the Jack Albertson role reduced to a single note: he’s blind. That’s pretty much it. Did I mention he’s blind?