- Movie Rating -

When Time Ran Out . . . (1980)

| March 28, 1980

Some pictures come from the heart.  Others come from the marketing department.  I think the latter sums up the entirety of Irwin Allen’s career.  He’s the man who has made millions gathering together casts of expensive stars and plugging them into a plot designed around a disaster that can easily be exploited on a marquee.  He started with Airport, about a doomed airliner which inexplicably got a Best Picture nomination.  After that came shipwrecks (The Poseidon Adventure), fires (The Towering Inferno), bees (The Swarm), and a cable-car disaster (Hanging by a Thread).

The common thread of all of these movies are the diminishing returns, and they hit rock bottom with When Time Ran Out . . ., a deliriously bad movie about an erupting volcano that threatens a cast of at least a dozen notable movie stars including Paul Newman, Jackie Bissett, Red Buttons, Pat Morita, William Holden, James Franciscus, Barbara Carrera, Valentina Cortese, Veronica Hamel, Alex Karras, Burgess Meredith, Ernest Borgnine and John Considine, whose survival chances seem to be marked by the Hollywood Celebrity Food Chain – i.e. the bigger your star, the better your chances.

As if the volcano weren’t enough, the movie pads things out with romantic subplots and a power struggle between a real estate investor (Holden) who sees the danger and wants to evacuate the island before its too late, and a hotel owner (Franciscus) who doesn’t think it’s all that dangerous even as the mountain continues to belch flames.

The movie’s back half is a long – very long –  journey across the island to safety that includes a stupid scene in which the survivors have to cross a small bridge over a river of molten lava, while we weigh the celebrity of each actor to determine which will fall to their doom.  It’s kind of sick if you think about it, kind of like the rest of this nonsense.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1980) View IMDB Filed in: Action, Drama
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