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(YouTube) Video Saturday Cinema - Juggernaut, 1974 - A squad parachutes into the North Atlantic to disarm bombs aboard a luxury liner. Richard Harris and Omar Sharif star in this 70s thriller based on events ripped from the headlines   ( divider line
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820 clicks; posted to Video » on 09 Aug 2014 at 12:26 PM (3 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2014-08-09 11:42:47 AM  
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In 1972, British authorities scrambled to send the Special Boat Service into the North Atlantic. This emergency response team affiliated with the UK's intelligence services had been dispatched because of a communication from a would-be ransomer who claimed he'd placed bombs on the QE2 cruise ship. (Details here.)

It turns out this was a hoax and the extortionist was caught by the FBI.

Two years later, this quickie film hit the theatres despite a carousel of staff changes. The project was originally to be directed by Bryan Forbes (King Rat, Deadfall, International Velvet, the Colditz Story). Don Taylor (Escape from the Planet of the Apes, The Island of Dr Moreau, The Final Countdown) was brought on to replace him but jumped ship 30 days before shooting was to start. Richard Lester then came on board. He rewrote the script with Alan Plater. The original writer, Alan Simmons, was unhappy with the new script and demanded his name be taken off the credits.

Lester was one of the most influential British directors of the 1960s but his reputation took an unfair knock in the 80s for Superman 2 and 3. The blame for those films needs to be placed at the feet of the producers. Here you're seeing what Lester can do with a simple story and a great location.

The film was shot mainly aboard the German ocean liner called The Hamburg. The ship was about to be sold to the Soviet Union but before the Reds took delivery, the ship's owners couldn't pass up the opportunity to make a few extra bucks by renting it out as a movie set. The liner was painted in the livery of a fictional shipping line, very similar to the colours used by the Soviet Morpasflot line, and renamed the Britannic.  Adverts were run soliciting extras who would take a lengthy cruise in the North Sea for free, but with the warning that the ship would actually seek out the worst possible weather.

Why? The filmmakers needed to have visually impressive seas that would be clearly too rough to allow passengers to sail off on lifeboats.

Look, all 'ticking bomb' films have more or less the same plot. This is no exception but it's well shot, and the characters are interesting. Irish leading man Richard Harrisplays the demolitions expert, Omar Shariff is the captain, and  Anthony Hopkins is the policeman leading the on-shore investigation.  Even in his early days, Hopkins oozed more technique than a dozen. Watch him as he waves off his family as they depart.

The small stories of the passengers and crew either for you or they don't. Roy Kinnear was one of Lester's favourite bit actors and he does what he can as the master of ceremonies trying to keep the mood going. But whether or not all of these bit scenes with people in prison, the the master of ceremonies, the waiter and the divorcé come together is to some degree a matter of taste. Many disaster films have this 'problem'.

Three things bug me.

The first is that we never really have a sense that bombs are that dangerous beyond killing whoever is standing next to them. I remember thinking that the one that breaks the hull needed an exterior shot where air cannons fire dust and debris out portals. Once the chalk cleared the 'damage' could have been blackened canvas tied to the outside of the hull with smoke being generated by machines on the inside.  Shot from some distance, who'd have been able to tell? In other words, without a master shot, it feels like a TV show that's parceling out its special effects dollars.

Without any large and 'permanent' damage to the ship,  there's a missing element of drama.

Secondly, that HQ where the investigation is run from seems they borrowed a set from The Professionals. It lacks a sense of manpower and scale.

Finally, some of the exterior footage is truly incredible. People parachute into the ocean. Men swim up to a ship in mid sea and it's all filmed live with no special effects. There are scenes with tremendous parallax shifts in the horizon as the actors and extras contend with pitching seas...

...and yet a lot of the interior scenes in the ship are a bit poorly lit, lensed in merely workman-like ways with dull single-camera setups and have poorly recorded audio. These make the production seem rushed and cheap.

Link to last week's Saturday Cinema

Next week's Saturday Cinema was a runaway success.

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2014-08-09 12:24:22 PM  
Good one.  Saw it at the Tucker Theater in Liberal, Kansas with my dad when it first ran.  Cheers!
2014-08-09 12:28:04 PM  

clownyclownzomby: Good one.  Saw it at the Tucker Theater in Liberal, Kansas with my dad when it first ran.  Cheers!

There are Liberals in Kansas?
2014-08-09 12:58:50 PM  
"What happened?"
"Harry's bomb happened."
2014-08-09 01:14:05 PM  
Definitely worth seeing.
2014-08-09 01:23:01 PM  
I saw this several months ago, and well, thought it schlock. Your description of the filming makes the film far more interesting than the story alone.
2014-08-09 04:50:56 PM  

fuzzface00: Definitely worth seeing.

I saw it a few months ago.  I agree.  It's a bit cheesy, but it had its moments.

If I get really bored maybe I'll watch it again.

'70s cinema, FTW!
2014-08-09 06:30:31 PM  
The only bit I remember is the steward saying "It would be a night to remember".
You're not supposed to say that on an ocean liner.
2014-08-09 06:38:02 PM  
loved this movie.

it's no Ffolkes or Wild Geese though...
2014-08-09 07:33:13 PM  

gaslight: [ image 595x445]


Just when I thought I knew to much about this turkey you came along.
2014-08-09 09:14:01 PM  
The thing about Ffolkes is that Moore was so desperate to do stuff other than Bond he ended up in productions that were sometimes deeply weird/cheap. None is as awesomely bad as Escape from Athena but FFolkes was just cheaply done. It may not have been his judgement as apparently the Broccolis were cunning in trying to protect their investment and magically non-007 films Moore worked on suspiciously had trouble securing financing and distribution deals suddenly went dry.

Well, at least it kept him from doing another The Persuaders.

Revek: Just when I thought I knew to much about this turkey you came along.

My work here is done!
2014-08-10 06:27:09 AM  
I liked the movie quite a bit. Thanks for making me remember it!
2014-08-10 12:54:24 PM  

gaslight: FFolkes was just cheaply done

that being said, it's still a good movie and a decent performance from moore.
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