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The Poseidon Adventure

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Sighting the tidal wave that will turn the cruise ship Poseidon upside down, Captain Leslie Nielsen says, ”It must be mountainous!” Actually, on videocassette The Poseidon Adventure has always looked pretty molehillish, thanks to a cropped-picture transfer that undercuts the film’s wide-screen visuals. But in this letterboxed laserdisc edition, not one ominous swell or sweaty, straining passenger gets lopped off a shot. As the cast climbs up to the ship’s bottom with the wreckage around them fully visible, their histrionics play more believably — especially Shelley Winters breathing her last against a fire-flecked set. A reprocessed-stereo soundtrack lends gurgly ambience to the action, and the disc’s running-time readout, which can be called up on-screen via remote control, lets you see how effectively director Irwin Allen cheats in submerged-swim scenes, dragging them out far past the time characters say has elapsed. It just goes to show that a thrill sequence needn’t be airtight to hold water. B