How The Poseidon Adventure Changed My Life

July 30, 2009 · 1 comment

The Poseidon Adventure was on TV the other day. You know, the original seventies version with Gene Hackman as Reverend Scott. There’s something about that movie that I love. Forget that me and my friends used to play “Poseidon Adventure” in our backyards when we were kids (I mean yesterday) and reenact all the escape scenes on my friend’s swing set. Once we decided who would get the coveted role of “Susan,” it would take us hours to finish, sometimes right up to dinner. Good times.

What I love most about the movie now, outside of the fond memories, are the classic quotes of Hackman as Reverend Scott. Whenever I see the movie, it’s this character’s style that gets me pumped up and motivated to do the things I believe in. Here are the three quotes that I am talking about:

1. Rev. Scott’s reply to the ship’s purser when Scott encourages folks to follow him up the Christmas Tree to the bottom of the boat. The purser disagrees with Scott’s assessment of the situation and wants the people to stay put, saying to the people, “Don’t listen, it’s not true.” Hackman stares him straight in the eye and says, “It is true, you pompous ass!”

Well, as a kid, this was the first time I had heard someone in authority call someone else in authority a curse word and I thought it was just fantastic, albeit a little naughty! As an adult I still love it. Short, sweet, to the point, the perfect response to someone quite clearly acting like a pompous ass.

2. Rev Scott and Rogo (Ernest Borgnine) get into yet another fight when some passengers are found on the boat walking in the opposite direction of the engine room, where Scott believes they will be able to escape the sinking ship. Rogo bellows, “How do you know you are right? Maybe the passengers are going the right way and you are wrong.” Rev Scott replies, “That’s just brilliant. Seven people decide to go drown themselves and you think we ought to follow them.”

Great quote. Kind of like my mother’s famous line, “if everyone decided to jump off a bridge would you?” When did people stop thinking for themselves? Is it laziness or lack of confidence?

3. My third favorite quote comes at the end when Rev. Scott has his conversation with God. He has just had it with the obstacles his group has had to face in trying to escape the ship. He says, “We didn’t ask you (God) for any help, but don’t work against us.” And then my favorite, “How many more liiiives?” (liiives is written this way because he drew out the “i” in lives.)
Just the way Hackman delivers that line is worth the whole movie.

The Poseidon Adventure got me thinking. How many folks out there fight for what they believe in, like the Reverend Scott. How many put themselves out on a limb and and are confident that their way is the right way. How many are willing to put themselves on the line for what they believe in? Rev Scott had detractors. So does anyone who is wiling to take a stand.

In my newly released book, It Gets Easier! and Other Lies We Tell New Mothers, I take a stand. I use a lot of humor, true, but I also tell it like it is – all of it – new motherhood, back to work issues, breastfeeding, relationship with spouse, baby schedules – all of it. I also take a stand when I meet with Moms Club groups. We talk about things that your no supposed to talk about as a new mother – how difficult it is, feeling unappreciated, lack of spouse support, etc. We talk it out, we share ideas, we say, “how many more liiives?” (just kidding) Maybe that is why I like the Poseidon Adventure so much – not only was the boat shaken up, literally, but the hero was a guy who stood up against the pack to do some good for people. That’s all I really want – to do some good. Maybe all of those afternoons on the swing set was time well-spent.

Ever see the Poseidon Adventure? Did you play it out on your swing set, too? Who got to play “Susan”?


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