(director: Ronald Neame; screenwriters: Stanley
Mann/Edmond H. North/based on a story by Edmond
H. North; cinematographer: Paul Lohman; editor:
Carl Kress; music: Laurence Rosenthal; cast: Sean Connery (Dr. Paul
Bradley), Natalie Wood (Tatiana Nikolaevna Donskaya),
Karl Malden (Harry Sherwood), Brian Keith (Dr. Alexei
Dubov), Martin Landau (Maj. Gen. Adlon), Trevor Howard
(Sir Michael Hughes), Henry Fonda (American
President); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Sandy Howard/Gabriel
Katzka/Arnold Orgolini/Theodore Parvin/Run Run Shaw;
"Chatty disaster pic that talks itself to death."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
disaster pic that talks itself to death. Ineptly
helmed by veteran British filmmaker Ronald Neame
("Hopscotch"/"The Odessa File"/"The Poseidon Adventure"), though no fault of
his--he was sabotaged by studio interference and a
poor screenplay. It's based on a story by Edmond H. North, who
co-writes the screenplay with Stanley Mann.
The talented cast is wasted in such junk and just
dutifully go through the motions in a perfunctory way.
The tacky special effects are an eye-full and one's
only escape from the boring narrative, but are too
tacky to be praised.
Connery is an American scientist (with a Scottish
accent) and Natalie Wood a Russian scientist (with a
serviceable Russian accent that sounds a lot like her
Puerto Rican accent in West Side Story), who make time
to flirt with each other in a tepid romance while
their respective Cold War foe countries get all worked
up about working together to save the world from a
giant asteroid on a collision course to crash into the
Earth in a few days.
Harry Sherwood (Karl Malden) is the pushy former boss
of ex-NASA scientist Dr. Paul Bradley (Sean Connery), who recruits him in an
emergency to save the world from a 5-mile-wide meteor
about to hit the Earth in six days. The American
scientists are forced to accept the help of the
Soviets, and they work with chief Russian scientist Dubov (Brian Keith), who
speaks only Russia, and his scientist
translator-assistant Tatiana (Natalie Wood). The dire
situation is made touchy because the Americans discover that
their top secret nuclear weapon, Hercules, created by
Bradley, is not enough to destroy the meteor. In order
to prevent the disaster the Americans must work with
the Reds, who have a similar top secret
nuclear-missile weapon they call Peter the Great. The
the two superpowers upsets volatile right-wing General
Adlon (Martin Landau), who is too dense to
realize that the warnings from science about the meteor are real.
When the talking stopped
for a few moments, the screen turned its attention to
a massive avalanche
in the Swiss Alps, a tidal wave that sinks Hong Kong
and a chunk of rock smacking into NYC--which causes
the subways to flood and floods the site of the
American's secret nuclear underground center.
The banal disaster film
crashed at the box office, as the 18 million dollar
production was one of the biggest money losers in the
decade of the '70s. Even its special effects, which were supposed
to be the highlight of the film, weren't impressive.
REVIEWED ON 3/27/2012 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ