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The Poseidon Adventure
Album Cover Art
1995 Bootleg
1998 FSM
Album 2 Cover Art
2010 La-La Land
Album 3 Cover Art
2019 La-La Land
Album 4 Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:

Orchestrated by:
Alexander Courage
Labels Icon
Johnny Boy Bootleg
(October, 1995)

Film Score Monthly
(August, 1998)

La-La Land Records
(April 27th, 2010)

La-La Land Records
(December 3rd, 2019)
Availability Icon
The 1995 Johnny Boy bootleg was available only through soundtrack specialty outlets and eventually sold on the secondary market for $150 before the release of the score by Film Score Monthly deflated it. That 1998 FSM album was a limited release of 3,000 copies and was also available only through soundtrack specialty outlets for $20. It sold out and escalated beyond $100 in value.

The 2010 La-La Land album was also limited to 3,000 copies and sold out quickly through specialty outlets, achieving a value of $65 almost immediately. The 2019 "Disaster Movie Soundtrack Collection" from that same label is limited to 5,000 copies and debuted for $75 through those outlets.
The Williams score and Kasha/Hirschhorn song, "The Morning After," were both nominated for Academy Awards, the latter winning. Both were also nominated for Golden Globes.
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you're exploring the early triumphs of John Williams' transformation into a master of large-scale orchestral action and desire an early taste of his grim, dissonant style of dread.

Avoid it... on any album other than the 2019 La-La Land Records collection with its sibling score, The Towering Inferno, for all other releases offer unsatisfyingly poor sound quality.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 9/24/96, REVISED 4/9/21
The Poseidon Adventure: (John Williams) After the surprising success of Airport in 1970, the stage was set for a series of highly popular disaster films in that decade, led by a leap from television to big screen by producer Irwin Allen. Having offered several documentaries and fantasy TV series in the years prior, Allen jumped from the massive success of The Poseidon Adventure in 1972 to The Towering Inferno in 1974 before The Swarm several years later ended his fantastic run. At the height of the genre's dominance in the early 1970's, however, audiences couldn't get enough of these films, which usually put stellar casts on display and dazzled with their mammoth production values for the time. The talented ensemble cast, led by Gene Hackman, finds itself trapped in an ocean liner overturned by a mammoth wave, the group one of several trying to find its way up to bottom hull of the ship to await uncertain rescue odds. Riding its wave of popularity, The Poseidon Adventure received nine Academy Award nominations, winning for its song and special effects, an important recognition of the quality of the film despite its incredibly outdated technology and cultural elements from today's perspective. A 2006 remake did not challenge Allen's authority on the topic even when attempting to address these aspects of the original. Among the Oscar nominations for the production was one for the score by John Williams, who had morphed from the "Johnny" Williams of 1960's jazz into a capable symphonic action composer by the time his collaboration with Allen reached the big screen. While having no association with the production of the famous song, Williams incorporated Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn's popular "The Morning After" (performed by Renee Armand for the screen version but made famous by Maureen McGovern's single version) into some of his underscore where appropriate, creating a subtle but important link to the film's lasting musical identity.

Regardless of Williams' soon-to-come reputation, however, casual observers tend to forget that his work for The Poseidon Adventure is largely atmospheric and, in the case of many cues, dialed out in the finished film mix anyway. His harsh, brass theme of epic proportions for the opening shots of the ship is utilized often, best when accompanied by its tumultuous rhythmic figures denoting watery movement in Bernard Herrmann fashion. It stylistically resembles the main theme for The Towering Inferno and inspired chord progressions for Jerry Goldsmith's The Swarm and David Arnold's 1990's disaster music. But unlike The Towering Inferno, in which the main theme receives a glorious performance of optimism in technological advancement before the disaster strikes, Williams gives The Poseidon Adventure a doomed demeanor from the very start. Judging from the composer's earlier recorded versions of the "Main Title" cue, his inclination was to make the score even more dissonant and challenging than what the film eventually received, initially opting not to highlight the theme at all. There is little setup time before the cruise ship is struck by the tidal wave and flipped, and the music that introduces the liner at the opening doesn't vary much from the troubled environment of the escape attempts during the rest of the film. Only a few source cues of light jazz in the early, main dining hall sequence interrupts Williams' perpetually gloomy string and brass rumblings in the deep layers of bass. Even the piano is tethered to these dark bass regions, often crashing to accentuate a hit from the 58 other players or rambling without direction in the more tentative cues. The major effects sequence involving the rogue wave and the capsizing of the ship is scored counter-intuitively, utilizing high string whining, occasional groaning from brass, and intrigue from harp to function as another form of sound effects for the scene. As such, anyone looking blazing Williams action will be left very cold by this listening experience. Not surprisingly, most of this lengthy cue was left out of the film, allowing the sound effects to produce the terror of the moment.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.17 Stars
***** 115 5 Stars
**** 132 4 Stars
*** 151 3 Stars
** 101 2 Stars
* 80 1 Stars
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Poseidon   Expand >>
Thom - April 20, 2006, at 8:16 p.m.
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Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
1995 Bootleg Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 38:46
• 1. S. S. Poseidon (2:01)
• 2. Shipboard Life (1:34)
• 3. The Wave/Aftermath (4:04)
• 4. Raising the Christmas Tree (1:26)
• 5. Martin and Nonnie (0:51)
• 6. An Appeal to the Living (2:16)
• 7. Reverend Scott Explores the Kitchen (1:13)
• 8. Inferno (1:12)
• 9. Bow or Stern? (1:35)
• 10. Hell, Upside Down (2:37)
• 11. Snip Snip Snip (1:45)
• 12. Trapped Underwater (1:24)
• 13. Belle Dies (2:27)
• 14. Climb to Freedom (4:30)
• 15. Rogo Takes the Lead (1:39)
• 16. Rescue/End Titles (3:35)
• 17. The Morning After - performed by Maureen McGovern (2:22)
1998 FSM Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 75:51
2010 La-La Land Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 60:39
2019 La-La Land Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 61:25

Notes Icon
The 1995 bootleg insert includes no extra information about the score or film. The 1998 Film Score Monthly album includes the label's usual standard of in-depth notes about the films and music for all three scores represented on the product. The 2010 La-La Land album's insert also features an extensive analysis of the film and score. The 2019 La-La Land album contains this score in its own jewel case separate from the outer sleeve that also houses the other scores in the set. Its booklet contains extensive information about the score and film as well.
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or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from The Poseidon Adventure are Copyright © 1995, 1998, 2010, 2019, Johnny Boy Bootleg, Film Score Monthly, La-La Land Records, La-La Land Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 9/24/96 and last updated 4/9/21.
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