“Hell, Upside Down!” Classic 70’s Disaster Movies – And Their Big Star Feuds – Are My “Cult Movie Monday!”


“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, for this “Cult Movie Monday”, I’m taking you 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!

I love great 70’s films, and on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, another star-studded film also took on that conspiracy!

Yes, “Capricorn One” imagines how an outer space exploration could be faked! Check out this terrific thriller here:


Leave me a comment and let me know how many disaster films you’ve seen!


Categories: 70's Cinema, Academy Awards, Action Films, Books / Media, Cult Movies, Film Fight Club, Great Films, Hollywood, Movies, Obscure Movies, Pop Culture, Talent/Celebrities

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10 replies

  1. I subscribed to Empire from the first issue. Then it just became all about ‘blockbusters’, and I cancelled my subscription. When I moved to Norfolk, I had to trash over 100 copies I had saved!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pete, fascinating that you said that – I dropped my subscription this year after watching superhero films take over the entire magazine, and reviews of smaller films, especially DVD reviews, wither away…I just wasn’t interested in a cover story about Ant-Man!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It was the same here, John. They more or less just stopped reviewing anything not from the mainstream studios, and went crazy on huge spreads about Marvel and similar. I wrote and told them why, when I cancelled my subscription. They sold out!

        Liked by 1 person

      • The vast majority of films released in theaters int he US are action, superhero and horror…anything with a greater initiative gets swallowed whole…the new Spiderman film for example, opened in more than 4,000 theaters in the US!! You go to a multiplex and it’s showing 15 times a day!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sometimes, I think it feels like the end of ‘Cinema’. Luckily, we still have some independents, and of course films not made in English. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Pete, I have to agree…we tried to watch “Captain Marvel” – it was SO convoluted trying to set the story in that Marvel Universe – and the effects were numbing…and now with these live action Disney remakes – Hollywood is creatively bankrupt

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno. I had no idea about the feuds though. That Julie Garland crack from Shelley Winters made me laugh.😂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember the Mad Magazine spoof at the time. They didn’t know the ship had an automatic timer to right itself.. and it worked just as they made it to the top (bottom) of the ship. This is always what I remember when Poseidon Adventure is featured. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have seen these and remember The Towering Inferno freaking me out. I am remembering a movie about a bus hanging over the edge of a cliff too? I was my supposed to watch it as it was on late and I was about ten!! My Hollywood crushes from before my time include both McQueen (Mickey Finn role) and Newman (Luke of Cool Hand status obviously) so I love the trivia about their enemy status!

    Liked by 1 person

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