Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquake in SenSurround

The year was 1974.  SenSurround Sound was invented by a loudspeaker company call Cerwin Vega.  SenSurround was basically a set of sub-woofers that would produce a low frequency rumble to shake the theater and all who were in it.  Perfect for a movie called Earthquake.  Since we just had an earthquake of our own on the east coast of the USA yesterday, I thought a quick look at this movie to be appropriate, or at least, timely.

The cast is amazing, with Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, George Kennedy, Lorne Greene (playing Gardner's father, despite being only 7 years older), Genevieve Bujold (in a Bit Part due to her part being edited), Lloyd Nolan, Walter Matthau (as a drunk in an extra's part.), and Victoria Principal.

The movie wasn't as good as the cast list.  Lots of love triangles, cheating, jealousy, and overall bad feelings, as sometimes happens in LA.  So they had an earthquake to set things right.  Most of the leads die leaving only the good people to start over.  That sounds like a movie plot. 

How about the real Bit Actors?  Well, we have Monica Lewis (b. 1922) who appeared in some earlier films such The D.I. (1957).  She did a lot of TV shows as an actress or a singer.  After 'Quake she went on to Airport '77 (1977 of course), Rollercoaster (another SenSurround film), The Concorde... Airport '79 (guess what year), and The Sting II (1983). 

Wonderful John Randolph (1915 - 2004) played the mayor.  He looks a bit like Carl Reiner, don't you think?  Randolph has 173 titles on IMDb, including everything from The Naked City in 1948 to You've Got Mail 1998, and a few others after that.  He even managed to be in a coupla Planet of the Apes films in between. 

We also see Donald Moffat (b. 1930) in a small part as a doctor.  Of his 117 roles, my favorite is as the taxman in Popeye (1980 - That's a "45 cent rowboat under the wharf tax.")  He went on to play Lyndon Johnson in The Right Stuff (1983), and the president in Clear and Present Danger (1994).  Love those movies!

The real star of the film was SenSurround.  When the film premiered at Grauman's, they had to fasten a net below the ceiling to catch the chandeliers in case they fell.  Actually, SenSurround worked a bit too well.  It sickened viewers and caused complaints from the neighbors, so after a few more films, it was discontinued.  Where's their sense of humour?

This weekend the Philadelphia area will be treated to The Arrival (1996) of Hurricane Irene.  What's next...Armageddon (1998)?  Maybe I'll watch 2012 (2009), or just look out the window.