My friends, I need your help.

While I have no qualms about ‘fessing up to my passion for shark films, Exorcist rip-offs and manskirts, I am just a little shame-faced about admitting to an equal passion for disaster movies, whether the man’s-hubris kind, the nature-strikes-back kind, or the transportation-out-of-control kind – and worse still, particularly for the dreadful, last-gasp-of-the-first-wave ones, like Beyond The Poseidon Adventure, When Time Ran Out and Cave-In! But so it is; and today I make good on a long-standing promise to myself, and welcome disaster movies into the AYCYAS! reviewing fold.

How do you define a disaster film? The line between genres can be very thin, but to my mind the answer is, focus and attitude. Thus, Airport ’75 is a disaster movie; Die Hard 2 is not. The Poseidon Adventure is a disaster movie; Titantic is not. Earthquake is a disaster movie; San Francisco – despite having (in my opinion) the best realised film earthquake ever – is not.

The curious thing about the disaster movie is how long it took to find itself as a genre. After the first ever disaster movie, it was two decades before 1954’s The High And The Mighty inspired a crop of borderline, transportation-related disaster movies, Zero Hour! (1957), The Crowded Sky (1960) and The Last Voyage (1960) among them. The disaster movie as we know it today did not come into its own until Airport which, while not in fact a disaster movie itself, was certainly the catalyst for what followed.

So my first question to all of you is this: what other films, before Airport, would you classify as disaster movies? What have I missed?

My second question is more specific, and probably (unfortunately) much harder to answer. By now, pretty much everyone is aware that Flying High! / Airplane! is a twisted remake of Zero Hour! What you may not know, however, is that Zero Hour! was itself the remake of a teleplay called Flight Into Danger, filmed for and broadcast on Canadian TV in 1956, and starring as the reluctant hero – James Doohan. Since discovering this factoid, Flight Into Danger has become one of my film-hunting Holy Grails, although sadly I have discovered no evidence that it was ever commercially available, or even that it still exists. If anyone out there has any information, please drop me a line!

And now, our feature presentation:

d33-wave6bDELUGE (1933)

The great-granddaddy of all disaster movies, focussing upon a love triangle in the aftermath of a worldwide catastrophe, which climaxes with the destruction of New York City.

Some clichés have awfully deep roots…



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