Thursday, December 8, 2016

Time and Tide



This is my entry in the Kirk Doulas 100th Birthday Blogathon hosted by Shadows and Satin




If you could go back in time and change history, would you?

Before you answer that question, just think about this.  There is a theory called "The Butterfly Effect" which, in essence for the layman, says that even such minor things as the flapping of the wings of a butterfly, can, in a few weeks, have changed the details in a hurricane.  (it's chaos theory, and trust me, I have made it as simple as I can, but the details are even more complex).

The best example I can give you of how that affects time and history is a great story by Ray Bradbury, "A Sound of Thunder", in which a time traveler, going back to the Jurassic age on a safari, inadvertently kills a butterfly, and, upon his return to the present, finds drastic changes in the current time, as well as what he knows as history.  All from just the killing of one little butterfly millions of years ago.

Time travel has been a mother lode for both the science fiction enthusiast as well as the history buff (of which I am both). A favorite novel of mine, "The Guns of the South" by Harry Turtledove postulates how history could have been changed if a white supremacist band of South Africans used a time machine and gave Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy a supply of AK-47s.  Just theoretical musings on the topic of "What If", without the influence of outside sources like time travelers,  can cause some serious discussions; What if the German conspirators had managed to assassinate Hitler? (Not all conjectures along that line end up with a good outcome).  What if the Romans had succeeded in preventing the invasion of barbarian tribes in the 5th century?

For a really fascinating look at how history can be changed down though the years, stemming from a single event, try to find a copy For Want of a Nail: If Burgoyne had Won at Saratoga by Robert Sobel (1973).  The book, which reads like a non-fiction history, traces the history of the United States of Mexico and the Confederation of North America after a failed attempt to defend the independence of the Colonies in 1777.






The Final Countdown (1980)

The USS Nimitz is on maneuvers in the Pacific Ocean.  A civilian  efficiency expert and a representative of the mysterious Mr. Tideman (who engineered the Nimitz), Warren Lassky (Martin Sheen) comes aboard as a guest to see what can be done to improve the ship.  A reluctant Capt. Yelland (Kirk Douglas) welcomes him aboard but is suspicious of Lassky's motives.  He boards Lassky in a private room which is next to the CAG (Commander of the Air Force attachment to the ship) Dick Owens (James Farrentino).


Lassky, Owens and Yelland



While curiously investigating his neighbor's quarters, Lassky is caught by Owens reading some history that Owens is writing about the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  Owens and Lassky start out on a bad step, obviously.  While this is going on, there is some strange goings on topside.  A strange storm has materialized, one that shows up on radar intermittently; one pass it's there, the next it's not.  Yelland calls in all planes to come in before the "storm" can become a problem.

Strage storm



And here's where it gets strange.  The storm it turns out is some kind of time portal.  After encountering the portal, the ship and crew find themselves in calm waters.  But not the calm waters of 1980.  The calm waters of December 7, 1941, just prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  Once the crew realizes their predicament there is an intense debate among the officers and Lassky on what their duties should be.  Some vote for stopping the invasion,  while other heads debate how history could be changed, maybe for the worst by their intervention.  One thing is certain, if they are able to return to the present, if they change the outcome of the event, the world WILL be entirely different.




Into this mix, the crew rescue a Senator (Charles Durning) and his secretary, Laurel (Katherine Ross)  from a shipwreck caused by two Japanese Zeros which spotted them and bombed them. They also rescue one of the Japanese pilots after they destroyed the two in air combat.   It turns out that the Senator was the top potential candidate to be Roosevelt's VP in the next election.  (Think about that for a moment, because the next election would have been 1944, the one which Harry S. Truman was the VP.)  The Senator finds out that the crew knows about the imminent bombing and demands to be able to radio Washington.


Laurel and the Senator




That is enough to get you interested, I'm sure.  Does the crew go ahead and try to stop the attack?  Does the Senator convince Yelland to let him warn Washington?  Does the crew eventually get back to the present?  You'll have to watch the movie to find out...I'm going to be cryptic on this one, but be sure to watch it all the way to the end for that final denouement.




Kirk Douglas as Captain Matthew Yelland is a typical Hollywood movie officer, one who has his men and his command foremost in his mind at all times.  I love how he lets his facial expression convey his feelings as much as what he is saying in those scenes in which he is present.   Admittedly, this is not one of his best performances, but it is one that really shows his ability to take a presence in the scene.  And it's one that quite a number of you have probably never even heard of unless you are a Kirk Douglas devotee who has actively sought out every movie in which he was an actor.


Well, folks, must be off for home.  Looks like a storm is brewing out there.  This is Quiggy, signing off.    I'll see you next.................




10 comments:

  1. This movie! Whenever it shows up on television and I have the remote in my hand, we get together. I just can't walk away. However, I could never remember the title. I usually refer to it as "that movie". Now I will try to embed it in my mind as "this movie".

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    1. I wish wholeheartedly I had been able to see this movie on the big screen. It came out after I graduated high school, so there was nothing to stop me, but it must not have made it to my local theater, else I wouldn't have missed it. Thanks for reading.

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  2. Happy 100th birthday to Kirk Douglas! I've wanted to see this for a while now, and hope it crosses my path one day.

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    1. It's a great movie if you like time travel and history like I do. Thanks for reading.

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  3. My family saw this back when it first came out and loved it. But we're suckers for time travel movies, and this was a really good one. Nice write up! I haven't seen this one for a long time now and am way overdue for a viewing!

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    1. It's still one of those I have not yet acquired for my personal collection, but the local library has it. And I check it out probably twice a year.. THanks for reading.

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  4. I happened to see this about a year ago. I agree that it's not one of Kirk's best films, but he still has lots of charisma. It's an interesting story, and you've got me thinking I should see it again. Really enjoyed your review. :)

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    1. I admit I was not drawn to it because of Kirk. I would have watched it even if it had some second-rate has-been in the role. But he does make the movie better by his being in it.

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  5. I've always had a soft spot for this film even if the basic premise is ludicrous.

    It posits an interesting what if and the producers were smart enough to hire a strong cast of actors to tell the story. It really isn't a performance piece but does require a commitment from those actors to be earnest in their roles. That's where Kirk's force of presence comes in handy. Since the main thrust of the story circles somewhat out of his sphere but he's the ultimate decision maker on the ship the part requires someone who can command the scene whenever they enter, Douglas does so without breaking a sweat.

    Both Sheen and Farentino do good work, again it doesn't require deep emotion but they do have to project competence, intelligence and a guarded respect which both manage well. And Charles Durning blusters and fumes entertainingly.

    A fun adventure/sci-fi.

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    1. Yes, Charles Durning was a great character actor. Loved him in The Sting. And Sheen as always pulls off the character he's playing. Only seen Farentino in two or three movies that I can recall, so I have no real background on him. thanks for reading.

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