Red Buttons and Carol Lynley, whose characters fall in love in the movie, actually disliked each other intensely during filming. They refused to have anything to do with each other except when the cameras were rolling. Ironically, after being constantly reminded of this, they ended up becoming great friends in later years. Both Carol Lynley and Pamela Sue Martin were with Red Buttons at the time of his final public appearance -- the world premiere of Wolfgang Peterson's "Poseidon" at Mann's Chinese Theatre in May 2006.
The original script called for Rev. Scott to send Mrs. Rosen on her underwater mission, and for her to be trapped and need rescuing by him. Gene Hackman decided that his character would never ask her to do this, and suggested their characters' situations be reversed. Director Ronald Neame agreed, and they persuaded Shelley Winters that this was indeed better for her character.
Shelley Winters gained 35 pounds for the part of Belle Rosen. Afterward she complained that she was never able to get back to her original weight no matter how hard she tried.
Paul Gallico was inspired to write his novel by a voyage he made on the Queen Mary. When he was having breakfast in the dining room, the liner was hit by a large wave, sending people and furniture crashing to the other side of the vessel. He was further inspired by a true incident which occurred aboard the Queen Mary during World War II. Packed with American troops bound for Europe, the ship was struck by a gargantuan freak wave in the North Atlantic. It was calculated that if the ship had rolled another five inches, she would have capsized like the Poseidon.
An ending scene showing rescue boats surrounding the sinking ship was planned, but the budget ran out. The shot of the helicopter lifting off the hull was done on the studio lot, looking upward to avoid seeing the surrounding buildings.
Filming was delayed twice because of the cost. Twentieth Century Fox was suffering from losses from several flop musicals, Doctor Dolittle, Star!, and Hello, Dolly!, as spectacles were being trounced by smaller character-driven films, and the studio was certain that a disaster movie would be a risk. Fox finally relented when Irwin Allen promised to raise half of the budget himself. Reportedly, Allen found outside backers by walking across the street from the Fox lot to a country club, where he found some friends playing cards. During the card game, they agreed to back the film. Because the studio never spent any of the backer's money, the backers made a profit from the success of the film without actually spending a dime.
Most of the external shots of the Poseidon were shot using a model built from the original blueprints of the Queen Mary. The model is on display at the Los Angeles Maritime Museum at the Los Angeles harbor. The real Queen Mary is located just a few miles away in Long Beach.
Such mid-ocean "rogue waves" were previously thought to occur only once every ten thousand years. A 2004 study of satellite radar images showed they can happen as often as hundreds of times every decade.
Contains five Academy Award winning actors - Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters, Jack Albertson and Red Buttons.
Some of the pre-capsize sequences were shot aboard the Queen Mary, including the opening storm sequence, the pre-disaster scenes in the staterooms and hallways, the scenes above decks, and an early scene in the engine room.
In the scene in which Rev. Scott rescues Robin, the set was built on tracks which would slowly lower the inclined set into a large water tank. The set was supposed to stop moving once the set was half-submerged, but for some reason it continued until the camera crew was underwater. The film magazine was rushed to the lab, where immediate processing showed the film was undamaged.
Shelley Winters trained with an Olympic swim coach so that her character, who is a former award-winning swimmer, would come across more realistically in the underwater scenes.
The set for the banquet hall was designed so that very few objects needed to be moved from the floor to the ceiling (and vice versa); the columns along the walls were identical at the top and bottom, and the wall decorations were all removable.
It is said that 125 stunt people were used during the filming. No one was killed or injured. Imdb only have 53 of them - all but one uncredited.
Part of the set was built on a hydraulic system which would raise it to a 45° angle, and camera tricks were used to suggest more severe angles.
After the cable telegram is delivered to the Shelby stateroom, Robin jumps off the bed, inadvertently capsizing his plastic model of the S.S. Poseidon.
The song "The Morning After" is credited on screen as "The Song From The Poseidon Adventure".
The film received 8 competitive nominations and was awarded a non-competitive Special Achievement Oscar (Visual Effects).
The famous interior "capsize" scene was done in two parts. The first part had the hydraulically controlled set tilted to its maximum 45 degrees. The cameras were then stopped and the set was redressed so that the floor (deck) became the ceiling (overhead) and vice-versa. The actors were then returned to the set and the set was again tilted to complete the sequence.
In her autobiography Esther Williams claims she was offered the role of Belle Rosen by producer Irwin Allen because of her former swimming roles (though this remains open to debate, as the character of Belle Rosen called for a large woman).
The boots and pendant that Carol Lynley wears in the film actually came from her own private collection.
Milton Berle's brother was an extra in the dining room.
George C. Scott was considered for the role of Rev. Frank Scott.
Petula Clark was under consideration for the role of Nonnie Parry.
Sally Kellerman was originally offered the role of Linda Rogo.
Co-director and co-producer Irwin Allen`s wife Sheila Allen played the nurse.
The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
PG | 1h 57min | Action, Adventure, Drama | 13 December 1972 (USA)
A group of passengers struggle to survive and escape when their ocean liner completely capsizes at sea.
Director: Ronald Neame
Writers: Paul Gallico (novel), Stirling Silliphant (screenplay by)