:41 EARTHQUAKE. STARRING CHARLTON HESTON.
1:03 You guys, we are in for a treat. The big yellow title letters are giving me such joy. As is the very dramatic score.
2:18 I presume all the aerial shots of LA are to establish what a mecca of wholesome intact living it is prior to - SPOILER - the titular earthquake that destroys it.
3:02 Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner have an... interesting marriage. He’s hell-bent on exercising and skipping breakfast and she’s a cursing sheer-robed bitch on wheels. Is this typical of 1974? I wouldn’t know. I’m very much younger than that.
4:29 Remy (Ava Gardner) is a drama queen. She has just possibly tried to commit suicide via pills to get back at Charlton for not eating breakfast? Or something? He seems to think it’s par for the course.
5:27 A pre-quake hits and she jumps up from the bed into his arms thus proving it was all an act.
6:00 Shot of a giant dam. Ginger: “I predict that dam is going to break.”
6:49 Yeah, there’s no possible way these scenes about two guys working on the dam will factor into the future narrative at all.
7:27 Charlton has a car phone? In 1974? EPIC. He’s a badass executive with an actual handset in his convertible.
8:17 One of the dam guys just died. That seems abrupt. He went into some kind of electrical room and when his co-worker opened the door suddenly his body rushed out on a wave of water.
9:08 Cut to: car chase. Some zippy little blue convertible is racing away from cops who are conflicted about the chase. The young partner is cautious and the older partner doesn’t care. He just wants to catch the perp.
11:24 Cut to: a pink house-coated young thing with a kid who is apparently Charlton’s side piece. I see no other reason for him to show up at her door first thing in the morning.
12:08 She’s an aspiring actress. Naturally.
12:44 She may be his secretary. That he isn’t sleeping with? That’s even weirder, man. Why would you show up at your secretary’s door while she’s in her housecoat if you’re NOT having an affair?
14:07 I’m gonna be honest with you here, I don’t care about any of this character building. I am a big fan of disaster movies and not a big fan of trying to make me care about the characters before the disaster. I know, that makes me both a terrible person and an unconscientious writer but in all honesty I don’t care. Just stop with the blather and get to the quake.
17:35 A seismologist is placing a very urgent call. It doesn’t matter to who. This is just a warning to all of us viewers that shit is going to go down. In case the title “Earthquake” didn’t adequately convey that for you.
19:08 Now we’re with some dudes in a trench in the middle of a sheep pasture? WHAT?
19:32 Well it’s a good thing I didn’t have more than thirty seconds to figure out who those mystery men were because they’re now buried alive.
20:20 “Who’s the cat that won’t cop out / when there’s danger all about?” It’s not Shaft but it’s apparently a big stunt bike rider type guy. In head-to-toe black and yellow leather.
21:59 Back to the dam where someone is snorkeling and guys in suits are yelling questions to him. Apparently dam worker guy drowned in an elevator shaft? No, I don’t know what the hell is going on in this movie either.
22:48 Hare Krishnas. That’s something you really don’t see enough of in movies anymore.
23:19 Older cop who’s been suspended is in a bar now. Walter Matthau is in there also. In some kind of bright red be-hatted jive getup. He’s drunk.
24:18 Seismologist kid is predicting “the big one” in forty-eight hours. And of course his superiors don’t believe him. That’s a prerequisite for being in charge of a disaster-related section of research in movies: a healthy sense of disbelief about disaster predictions.
25:41 Charlton made it to work. He’s got a very large office with a very high view. He works for his father-in-law who is also Lorne Greene.
26:38 Another pre-quake. The bar is all rattled and some of the pool balls rolled so now there’s a brawl happening over balls that moved. I wish that was actually a euphemism but it isn’t.
27:30 I kind of can’t wait for all of these people to be buried in pieces of LA.
28:32 Concrete crack in the dam. Dun dun dunnnn. (The soundtrack had some kind of hippy be-bop tune playing so I added the ‘dun dun dunnnn’ myself for effect.)
30:07 Ginger: “Can you type that Lloyd Bridges has good eyebrow game?” He does. Though I am, in fact, unsure that’s Lloyd Bridges.
30:53 Remember the sheep pasture trench guys? No, me neither. But they happened and now they’re dead and because of that the seismologists are all Very Concerned and contacting the mayor.
33:33 This sentence, out of context: “The police have that situation totally under control.” Be honest, even with context does that sound factual to you in an LA-based disaster movie scenario?
34:47 Walter Matthau, this is not a good look for you. Red velvet wide-brimmed hat with a magenta ribbon and a red polka-dotted blouse-thing? I don’t care if it WAS the 70s. You’re WALTER MATTHAU.
37:02 I’m not even going to dignify this scene with snark.
38:04 So pink housecoat chick and Charlton are, in fact, doing the nasty. It has taken thirty-eight minutes and three scenes of them together to define this and I only figured it out when she said “when we made love”. So you can probably guess that the levels of on-screen chemistry between them are off the charts.
39:28 Charlton, you are a sweaty sweaty man. This girl looks like your granddaughter. I feel squicky and awkward right now. And you need a mop for your forehead.
40:55 Daredevil bike stunt guy in the yellow leather is explaining how his ramp goes through a flaming hoop and the score gets all dramatic because there’s no way gas and flames and an earthquake add up to trouble.
42:05 There is a lot of crazy hair in this movie. A whole lotta fro going on. Black fro, blonde fro, chick fro, dude fro.
49:17 Well all characters are primed to be separated in the quake. Pink housecoat chick is off for a walk, her kid is crossing a bridge to a park, Remy and Charlton are storming out of the office in anger, Walter Matthau is at the bar, bike stunt due has his flames going and a Vegas promoter to impress...
52:16 Earthquake! (Finally.)
53:00 This is actually some impressive quake footage considering it all had to be done with models and actual sets. It’s an impressive amount of destruction.
53:50 Cattle truck in trouble on a bridge! Cow alert, cow alert!
54:13 No cattle were harmed in the filming of this truck’s nosedive off the bridge.
54:50 Houses on stilts are now threatening to crush pink housecoat chick on her walk. Seriously a lot of impressive model-and-set destruction is going on here.
56:19 Damn, man! Entire swaths of LA are now crumbling. Great sweeps of the city are completely gone.
56:55 People, do NOT cram into the elevator! And the elevator plunges them all to their deaths. Dude.
58:59 Omigod, lady with giant glass shards sticking out of her scalp and face...
1:00:06 Whoa. Apocalypse. The quake finally stops and literally all that’s left is fire, rubble, and moaning.
1:01:50 Some kind of gas is now flooding the upper office floors. So not only are they trapped in rubble, they’re being gassed. See, this is actually what I like about disaster movies: the piling on of traumas.
1:02:44 I’m not quite sure where we are in the building but I’m assuming half of it crumbled away cutting off access to the stairs? I don’t know. I don’t really know. The outer exterior shots show it devoid of glass and spewing green gas clouds.
1:04:29 Walter Matthau, this character you’re playing is an offense to common sense. You are better than this.
1:05:06 Trouble at the dam, guys. Nobody could have seen this coming. It’s not stable. You guys, it’s not stable!
1:07:17 Okay so a portion of the stairwell in the office tower collapsed and the elevator shaft is full of fire. So now Lorne Greene is rigging an office chair tied to a firehouse with pantyhose straps as an escape route. This is totally bananas. But, you know, Charlton is directing from the lower floor so what could go wrong?
1:11:00 Pink housecoat chick’s son is mostly unconscious at the bottom of what I think is a water overflow gutter? She’s trapped down there now with him, some live electrical lines, and incoming water. Disaster upon disaster!
1:13:17 Bike stunt guy and his friend are totally rescuing pink housecoat chick and her kid. Goodwill abounds in LA!
1:14:57 The mayor is broadcasting over some kind of transistor radio frequency and the suspended cop is organizing survivors on the street to break into hardware stores.
1:16:29 Lorne Greene is having a heart attack! So now that everyone else has been rescued from the office floor, of course Charlton has to climb up to rescue Lorne.
1:17:56 I am pretty sure that now the fire hose will break. Mostly because Charlton is the last one using it and that’s how disaster movies work.
1:18:28 Called it. But Charlton survived because he is Moses and Ben-Hur.
1:20:06 The back lot of Universal Studios is looking rough, friends.
1:20:33 The army has arrived. Well thank god for that. Now they can, you know, walk around looking green and weaponized.
1:21:41 The first thing we see any army officer do in the face of the grand scope of this disaster is arrest some attractive brunette girl who stepped through a broken diner window to eat a donut. She was arrested for “looting”. I don’t know if this is meant to be a scathing indictment of the army’s priorities or not but...
1:23:24 Remy and Charlton’s marital trouble knows no limits. They will even argue over the rubble of LA.
1:26:00 The second thing we see an army officer do is pull the attractive arrested girl out of the group she’s sitting with and take her to an abandoned building. Creeeeeepy.
1:27:04 This second army guy is named Jody and we saw him earlier but I didn’t mention it for reasons of boredom. Anyway, he had a fake fro on then. He’s a total creeper. He’s not right in the head.
1:28:41 I have to say this movie is not very good. Next time I’ll live-blog The Towering Inferno. Now that is a superior disaster movie.
1:29:53 A cute little white puppy was just rescued. You guys! Go on, melt, it’s okay to. That puppy is so damn cute, you guys. And now it’s safe with a cop and Charlton. We just witnessed the best moment in the whole movie. The puppy lives!
1:33:27 It’s all kind of peaceful scenes of survivors in the designated shelter area right now. They’re serving soup and kids are playing in the mall fountain and someone’s strumming a guitar. It’s like a commune. There’s no way anything could go wrong here, right?
1:34:40 Army Guy Jody is a total creeper. This poor girl. Was this sub-plot about the faux army possible rapist completely necessary?
1:36:21 Dam guys just hanging around the dam being concerned. You know.
1:37:25 Called it. Aftershock destroys the mall commune of peace and survival tranquility. Chaos and rubble and bodies everywhere! Movie, you are the worst.
1:38:55 Cute puppy update: still hanging out with the cop and Charlton.
1:39:28 Meanwhile, back at the dam: a door is out of alignment. In an earthquake? The horror! The horror!
1:41:54 This entire sequence with Jody tearing off the poor girl’s shirt is so desperately unnecessary, movie. But the cop shows up and blows Jody away. Good riddance, creeper. The girl is now safe with Charlton and the cop who gives her the cute puppy.
1:42:53 Cute puppy update: now adopted by attractive brunette girl. This is like a beautiful love story.
1:45:20 Charlton and the cop have arrived at the once-peaceful survivor commune that is now a tangle of rubble and pain. They climb down a manhole cover to find survivors in the lower levels. The girl and the puppy stay topside. Further puppy updates as they are available.
1:47:29 It is ridiculous that Charlton is actually less sweaty now, after crawling through collapsed tunnels, than he was before just lounging around a bedroom making small talk.
1:48:55 I don’t know a lot about structural engineering but I assume drilling into a recently collapsed building is a bad idea. Charlton should know better.
1:51:48 Charlton emerges into the basement and hugs the pink housecoat girl right in front of Remy. BURN. Remy may be a crazed drama queen but way to be a sweaty classless dick, Charlton.
1:52:58 And the dam has burst. (Not a euphemism.)
1:54:52 Now Presenting: Scenes of Water Destruction in a Destroyed Backlot Set.
1:55:38 The night filter they’re using to make broad LA daylight look like midnight just results in the water essentially looking like sewage.
1:57:10 And now, scenes of survivors being panicky punchy dicks to each other.
1:58:04 Charlton, torn between mistress above and wife below makes the ultimate sacrifice. He chooses to go after Remy being swept away by water in the tunnel. And may I just say, Charlton, too little too late?
1:59:20 Cute puppy update: Attractive girl and puppy reunited with the cop who saved their lives.
2:00:00 We end with scenes of Tara burning. Oh, sorry. Different movie. We end on a lingering shot of an LA model burning at dusk.
2:00:36 This movie wasn’t great, kids. On the bright side, the puppy made it. On the even brighter side, it’s over now.
- Corinne Simpson