Thursday, January 26, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—The Final Countdown (1980) ***

PG, 103 min.
Director: Don Taylor
Writers: David Ambrose, Gerry Davis, Thomas Hunter, Peter Powell
Starring: Martin Sheen, Kirk Douglas, James Farentino, Katherine Ross, Ron O’Neal, Charles Durning, Soon-Tek Oh

On Tuesday, January 24, 2012 actor James Farentino passed away due to heart failure in a Los Angeles hospital. He was 73. Farentino appeared in dozens of movies and television shows throughout his career. “The Final Countdown” was probably he best known film role. He received an Emmy nomination for his role as Peter in the television mini-series “Jesus of Nazareth” and played George Clooney’s estranged father on the hospital drama “ER”.

He played the third lead behind Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen and the romantic lead to Katherine Ross in this military-based science fiction cult classic that imagines what might happen if a modern day U.S. Naval aircraft carrier were inexplicably placed between Pearl Harbor and the advancing Japanese fleet on December 7, 1941 just hours before the attack that drew the U.S. Forces into World War II. The cooperation of the U.S. Navy in making this movie greatly helped the authenticity factor for the military maneuvers.

The drama mostly deals with the slow process the crew must go through just to figure out that somehow they have traveled through time. Once they come to terms with that they must determine what to do about it. They have the opportunity to alter history and give the United States an incredible military advantage in the war with their modern war vessel, but at what price to the future? As the ship’s captain, Douglas’s military take on the situation is implacable. Sheen’s civilian advisor is a little more emotionally driven. Oddly, very little occurs other than the realization of what’s happened, but that is as it must be when dealing with such a grand historical event and the paradox of time displacement.

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