Veterans Day is a chance for us to applaud and more importantly, honor the sacrifice of our Veterans throughout history…and the terrific website RealWeegieMidget has a “blog-a-thon” starring former Marines – like Gene Hackman!
Bravo to Hackman for his service – he left home at age 16 and lied about his age to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. He served four and a half years as a field radio operator, and Hackman ended up a Corporal in The Marine Corps.
I’m taking a look at a film that showed his leadership, honor and strength – a film with one of the best movie tag lines ever:
“The Poseidon Adventure!”
Yes, “hell upside down” is one of the greatest lines, and it captures the movie in three words: a luxury cruise ship capsizes on New Year’s Eve, and one person must lead the survivors to safety – at the bottom of the ship!
Here is the trailer:
Gene Hackman plays Reverend Scott, a renegade minister who believes “God helps those who help themselves”.
He is headed to a new parish in Africa as punishment for his unorthodox views.
After a spectacular set=piece showing the ship turning over both inside and out, Hackman must lead survivors to the bottom of the boat propeller shaft so they can be rescued!
The journey is dangerous, but Hackman’s natural leadership skills are in evidence, as is his “tough as nails” command of the group.
A “Tricky” Gene Hackman, A Livid Shelley Winters!
So, one of the great aspects of this film is the “disaster” going on behind the scenes, because Hackman and co-star Shelley Winters did NOT get along!
According to Director Ronald Neame, and confirmed by Winters, she had accepted the part based on her final scene where she begs Hackman to be allowed to dive in the water to save the survivors of the capsized luxury liner because she had been an expert swimmer.
This shot of Winters screaming is how she reacted when she heard that Hackman didn’t like the way the scene was set up.
According to the Director:
“Gene comes to me about four days before we’re going to shoot it and says, ‘Ronnie, I would never let that lady go into that water. I’ve been leading them all the way through the film. And now, suddenly, I let her do that? No way,’ ” Neame said. “I said, ‘Well, you have a point, Gene. But what do we do? What’s Shelley going to say?’ “
So Hackman suggested that his character dive in, get stuck and be rescued by Winters’ character.
“Well, of course, it made perfect sense,” Neame said. “Also, incidentally, I think it gave Shelley the scene. But at that particular moment, Shelley was convinced that we were destroying her part.”
She complained that Hackman was stealing the scene from her.
“That was when we got into this terrible situation and I made a fatal mistake,” the Director said. “I said, ‘This is the worst morning I’ve had since I directed Judy Garland.’
“And Shelley said, ‘That’s enough,’ and got up and left.”
Here’s another great story from the Actress:
“Gene Hackman claimed that I was trying to drown him,” Winters said. “I have very good breath — or I did then — so I took a long time freeing him. . . . And when we got to the top (of the water), he said, ‘You are trying to drown me.'”
She also said at the time:
“That scene is the only damn reason I’m doing the movie and Hackman’s not going to take it away from me!”
That said, he DID, but it didn’t hurt the box office at all: the film was the biggest grossing film at the box office in 1973!
It’s a great disaster epic, Hackman is terrific, and he shows the kind of leadership you expect from a former Marine!
Click here to see all of the great blogathon entries:
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Thanks to Weegiemidget for letting me take part in this Marine Blogathon!