Written by / 2/04/2014 / No comments / , , , , , , , ,

NEWMAN & HOLDEN DO ALLEN AGAIN IN 'WHEN TIME RAN OUT'

rating: ***1/2
In Irwin Allen’s classic THE TOWERING INFERNO, Paul Newman played the chief architect of an enormous building with many problems under the surface, and it was all Richard Chamberlain’s fault for not checking fire codes, or something of that expository/technological nature while William Holden ran the show and eventually sided with Newman, but everyone on board was in the same dire predicament. And a similar thing happens in WHEN TIME RAN OUT with two INFERNO veterans… actually three including producer Irwin Allen, master of disaster cinema. Once again, William Holden is financially in charge of things. His character, Shelby, adores Jacqueline Bisset’s Kay, madly in love with Hank Anderson, an oil foreman who realizes the deeper they drill, the more angry a near-distant volcano becomes.

Year: 1980
Newman plays Hank, another Irwin Allen created self loathing millionaire who, being more cautious and hesitant than conceited by wealth, his the good while while his new Richard Chamberlain is James Franciscus as Bob Spangler, a greedy businessman, son of a sugar cane mogul seeking oil as gold who runs a plush hotel in a South Pacific Island: a sublime resort that, like all man-made devices in disaster films, is supposedly indestructible in this black sheep ensemble featuring Ernest Borgnine as a cop pestering Red Buttons as a bond scammer living in plush retirement...

The talent involved, also including Burgess Meredith, are somewhat wasted, seeming part of an extremely bland FANTASY ISLAND episode. Meanwhile the token young starlets include Veronica Hamel (who was in Allen's sequel to POSEIDON ADVENTURE, the original featuring this film's Borgnine and Buttons) and native beauty Barbara Carrera, eventually becoming pretty wallpaper compared to Bissett’s female lead although, other than her Faye Dunaway-style attraction for working class Newman, she really doesn't do very much but prove that gorgeous women can be smart and down to earth... around a man who deserves them, that is.

"Off to get killed! Damn fools!"
The story finally gets underway when the volcano erupts. The residents must choose a risky trek with Newman to the other side of the island, or staying put with Franciscus at the resort. It’s pretty obvious what the logical option is – at least from the audience perspective. Yet only a small group joins in on the mobile caravan and, while the stubborn hotel dwellers watch the volcano spit fireballs into the sky, Newman leads his herd on foot around a mountainous incline, and then to the place we'll spend the entire third act, and, alternative title for WHEN TIME RAN OUT could very well be A BRIDGE TOO FLIMY: Once the gang arrives at a makeshift native bridge with a gushing river of molten lava bumbling beneath, the dilapidated structure begins falling apart. Therefore the survivors must cross slowly, and cautiously, to the other side… Which does have suspenseful moments, yet we never got to know the characters well enough to really care about their success or demise. Still though, while not top of the shelf Irwin Allen, it's a nice little, swift and entertaining ride.
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