Celebrity Smackdowns! “Hell, Upside Down!” The Disastrous Duo Of “Poseidon Adventure!” And “Towering Inferno!”


“Hell, Upside Down!”
Take a moment to enjoy what is, without a doubt, one of the greatest movie tag lines of all time! “Hell, Upside Down!” Time to enjoy some classic movie mayhem. And time also to have a celebrity CATFIGHT!

That’s right, let’s go back to the 70’s, an era when disaster movies were BIG – and the Star feuds were BIGGER!

best disaster films

The Master Of Disaster!

There was an era in the 70’s when “disaster pictures” were the rage: huge blockbusters like “The Towering Inferno” with Steve McQueen and Paul Newman:

the towering inferno poster

But did you know how McQueen referred to Newman in conversations?

“That Fuckwit!”

Well, thanks to the great british film magazine EMPIRE, I’ve got a bunch of anecdotes about stars who hated other stars while acting in huge blockbuster disaster films!


I subscribe to EMPIRE – a truly great movie magazine full of great reviews, interviews, on-location reports and lots of stories about film – including one of their April issue that introduced British audiences to the original “Master of Disaster”, movie Producer Irwin Allen!

The Poseidon Adventure

The Poseidon Adventure!

“Hell, Upside Down.” That was the tagline for the greatest disaster movie of all time, which spawned a series of “disaster-themed” films throughout the rest of the 70’s – check out the trailer!


Yes, that was Leslie Nielsen as the Captain in the trailer, just one of a slew of recognizable faces in this star-studded disaster epic!

Poseidon Adventure

Gene Hackman – who just a year earlier won the Best Actor Oscar for “The French Connection” – plays Reverand Scott, who is on the ship that is capsized by a huge tidal wave! He must help a small group climb up to the bottom of the overturned luxury cruise ship!

classic disaster movies

This movie was Hollywood’s gold standard all right – Oscar winners Hackman, Shelley Winters and Ernest Borgnine – along with a bunch of other familiar faces – all struggling to survive!

great movie casts

A “Tricky” Gene Hackman, A Livid Shelley Winters!

A great anecdote from the magazine involves Gene Hackman, who Director Ronald Neame referred to as “tricky”. Hackman demanded to change a scene, shifting the focus from Shelley Winters to himself. Winters went ballistic:

“That scene is the only damn reason I’m doing the movie and Hackman’s not going to take it away from me!”


Winters lost the argument, and she later said that filming the revised scene was, in her words:

“the most dreadful morning I’ve had since I made a film with Judy Garland.”

What a classic line! I love catty Hollywood insider stories, and since “The Poseidon Adventure” was a huge smash, Producer Irwin Allen had more Hollywood cattiness to come!

Time for a heated “Inferno!”

the towering-inferno

Steve McQueen’s Battle With Paul Newman!

The magazine also offered an inside look at Irwin Allen’s “The Towering Inferno”, starring Steve McQueen and Paul Newman – and of course, more Star fights!

classic steve mcqueen

Empire tells the whole story about how Irwin Allen got both superstars to appear in the film, without realizing that McQueen HATED Newman! Even after becoming a superstar, McQueen always felt Newman was treated better by the press and the industry, and it drove him crazy.

great movie feuds

The problems began even before they began filming. McQueen read the screenplay for “Inferno” and counted all of his lines – and then he counted Newman’s – and discovered the other Actor had twelve more lines than he did. His response?

“Goddmanit, that fucker’s always twisting my melon!”

best disaster films

“The Fuckwit!”

McQueen was so jealous of Newman’s popularity he always referred to him as “the fuckwit!” None of their rivalry impacted the end result, however, as “The Towering Inferno” was a huge box office smash!

These are two classic disaster films that helped spark the era of blockbuster cinema – and I love stories about stars who fight on the set!


Categories: 70's Cinema, 70's Music, Academy Awards, Action Films, Awards, Bloopers, Books / Media, Cult Movies, Great Films, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Movies, Obscure Movies, Pop Culture, Talent/Celebrities, Uncategorized

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20 replies

  1. Well, it is a tribute to their acting abilities that you can’t detect any of this feeling in the movies.

  2. Reblogged this on johnrieber and commented:

    Here’s a very entertaining disaster of a weekend double bill for you!

  3. LOVE IT!! “Goddmanit, that fucker’s always twisting my melon!” LOL

  4. The 70’s is definitely the disaster movie decade. Great work, John!

  5. Great post, John! Great info, here, and I did not know some of these! Steve counting the counting lines, for example. Very interesting. And the cat fighting all around, especially with Winters, is juicy reading.

    I have an affinity for the disaster flicks from the 70’s and I am a huge fan of McQueen and his films. He was a giant talent and the very epitome of bad ass.

  6. Great classic Hollywood gossip! For what it’s worth, Steve McQueen is the one who is remembered as the very definition of coolness, so I think if he’s looking down from the beyond he should know he won.

    • Ha! I LOVE McQueen – “Bullitt”, “The Getaway” just two examples…funny that he felt that H’wood didn’t respect him the same way as Newman – but remember, Paul Newman in the 70’s WAS Mr. Cool…thanks for the comment!


  1. Happy Birthday Gene Hackman! Ten Roles That Defined A Hollywood Legend! – johnrieber
  2. Movies A-Z! Ten Amazing “P” Movies! ALL From 1968-1975! Seven Years! Ten Cult Classics! – johnrieber
  3. “The Stewardess Is Flying The Plane!” Why I Love 70’s Cinema! The Decade’s Biggest “Hellraisers!” – johnrieber
  4. The Shelly Winters Blogathon! “Lolita”! Shelley’s Brilliant Performance in Stanley Kubrick’s Masterpiece! – johnrieber

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