Saturday 26 August 2023

Movie Review: The Last Voyage (1960)

Genre: Disaster Adventure
Director: Andrew L. Stone
Running Time: 91 minutes

Synopsis: The aging luxury ocean liner Claridon is crossing the Pacific with Captain Robert Adams (George Sanders) at the helm. The passengers include Cliff Henderson (Robert Stack), his wife Laurie (Dorothy Malone), and young daughter Jill. An engine room fire triggers a large explosion, separating Jill from her parents and trapping Laurie under debris. As Captain Adams dithers, Second Engineer Walsh (Edmund O'Brien) and his crew struggle to prevent water flooding into the damaged vessel, while Cliff tries to save his family with help from crewman Lawson (Woody Strode).

What Works Well: Andrew L. Stone directed, wrote, and co-produced (with his wife and editor Virginia) this effective disaster thriller, and focusses with cold and detached efficiency on three groups grappling with the unfolding crisis: the officers surrounding the slow-to-react Captain Adams, the crewmen led by the scrappy Walsh, and the Henderson family. The narrow focus results in crisp storytelling, enhanced by excellent special effects and imaginative cinematography. Themes of sacrifice, determination, and life prioritization are unafraid to wander towards dark emotional places.

What Does Not Work As Well: Other than the Hendersons, all the other passengers are irrelevant extras, and the cumbersome attempts to rescue Laurie from under the debris occupy excessive screen time.

Conclusion: As the crippled ship slowly sinks, the thrills soar.

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