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Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Last Voyage (1960)

An explosion in a boiler room aboard a luxury liner sailing for Japan eventually causes the ship to begin to sink. While the ship's Captain (George Sanders) ponders his options, the ship's surviving engineer (Edmond O'Brien) attempts to save what's left of his crew and a husband (Robert Stack) desperately tries to free his wife (Dorothy Malone) who's trapped under a steel beam ... and time is running out for all of them. This almost unbearably intense adventure is a forerunner of those star studded "disaster" movies of the 1970s. However, unlike many of those inflated multi character films, this is a lean and taut piece of cinema that concentrates on a few as characters as possible with much attention paid to the mechanics of the sinking ship. No CGI, minimal special effects, the film has a quasi documentary feel to it. Except for very brief music cues at the beginning and end of the film, there's no underscore. Adding to the realism is that it's not a set, it's a real ship (the Isle De France) that's being sunk and the cameras are close enough so that we can see it's the actors, not stuntmen, who are undergoing the trauma. Produced by the husband and wife team of Virginia and Andrew L. Stone with Andrew directing his own original script while Virginia did the film editing. With Jack Kruschen and Woody Strode, who's a real standout here.

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