december 6

Hans 2021 Movie Draft: Round Eight-Pick One-The Final Countdown 1980

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USS Nimitz Storm IMDb & Amazon Image One
Image Credit: IMDb & Amazon

Hanspostcard has a movie draft challenge. This is my Round Eight pick.

Category: Action/Adventure/Thriller
Film: The Final Countdown

Captain Yelland: […to his Native American Weather Officer…] “Ahhh, Black Cloud, you’ve been doing unauthorized rain dances again.”

Lasky: […as a Japanese pilot is holding Laurel at gunpoint…] “Why don’t you tell him what’s going on here, Commander? You’re an expert on what’s gonna happen tomorrow…”
Captain Yelland: “Go ahead, tell him.”
Commander Richard Owens: “26 November, six carriers left the Kuril Isles north of Japan. The carriers were the Akagi, Kaga, Shokaku, Zuikaku, Hiryu, Soryu. Tomorrow at dawn, these carriers will send 353 planes to attack Pearl Harbor.”
Senator Chapman: “How in the hell do you know all that?”

F-14 Pilot #1: “Mission aborted? But, we can see ’em!”
F-14 Pilot #2: “They’re gonna let the Japs do it, again.”

Directed by Don Taylor, it was produced by Peter Vincent Douglas and Lloyd Kaufman with Kirk Douglas executive producing without credit. The story, and screenplay, was written by the team of Thomas Hunter, Peter Powell, David Ambrose and Gerry Davis. The ensemble cast was Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, Katharine Ross, James Farentino, Charles Durning, Ron O’Neal, Victor Mohica, Soon-Tek Oh and James Coleman, with producers Lloyd Kaufman and Peter Douglas playing small parts.

Senator Chapman & Laurel IMDb & Amazon Image Two
Photo Credit: IMDb & Amazon

It’s 1980 and Warren Lasky (Sheen) is a Systems Analyst from Tideman Industries, working with the Department of Defense as an efficiency expert. He is dispatched by his secretive employer to board the USS Nimitz before its departure from Naval Station Pearl Harbor for naval exercises in the Pacific. Tideman Industries designed and built the carrier. Not long at sea, a strange storm appears out of nowhere and the Nimitz can neither outrun nor maneuver away from it. Passing thru the storm, electronics and people, alike, are knocked out. Once the storm is gone and everything returns to normal, Captain Yelland (Douglas), his crew and his civilian passenger discover that they have been thrown backwards in time to 1941, just hours before the attack on Pearl Harbor. What now?

It’s original premiere was in London on May 21, 1980, Japan on July 5 and the US on August 1. I didn’t get to see it at the theater but, caught it on HBO a year later. IMDb lists this as Action & Sci-Fi, which it is but, I think it fits in the Adventure/Thriller categories, too. As a contributor on IMDb, I’ve made a suggested update of the genre. Having been on board the USS Enterprise on December 7, 2001, I have a much greater appreciation for the making of this movie. It received mixed reviews and didn’t make a lot of money. Two months later, another time travel film was released…Somewhere In Time and The Philadelphia Experiment, four years later, is the reverse of this movie in time frames. ~Vic

Trivia Bits:
♦ Peter Douglas is Kirk Douglas’ son with his second wife. This was his first film as producer and his only credited acting role.
♦ This was made with the full cooperation of the US Navy and 48 Nimitz crew members were credited.
♦ Filming took place on board ship at sea (exterior shots) with interior shots filmed in dry dock at Naval Station Norfolk. The USS Kitty Hawk was a stand-in, pulling into Pearl Harbor. Flight and water scenes were shot at Naval Air Station Key West.
♦ The production crew was allowed to film a real emergency landing and recovery of an aircraft that appeared in the film.
♦ The first setup to film an F-14 takeoff resulted in both camera and operator being pitched down the runway.
♦ The black and white Pearl Harbor attack footage was taken from Tora! Tora! Tora!
♦ WWII ace fighter pilot Archie Donahue was one of the Zero pilots. The Zeros were converted T-6 Texans, flying full throttle and the F-14s were flying at stall speeds so that both aircraft would be in the same shot.
♦ When filming wrapped, possibly early, the USS Nimitz was recalled to home base to participate in Operation Eagle Claw, the attempt to rescue the hostages held at the U.S. Embassy in Iran on April 24, 1980.

Additional Reading:
Archie Donahue: WWII Ace Pilot (HistoryNet/Jon Guttman/July 2007)
Filming of Final Countdown: You Want Us To Do What? (Pilots For Christ Forum/Administrator Don Gieseke/12-08-2016)
Commander Richard “Fox” Farrell: Lead F-14 Pilot (Dignity Memorial/03-31-2014)

Awards & Nominations

Watch the movie for free: Daily Motion

Flashback Friday: Altamont Concert 1969

Posted on Updated on

Grace Slick Image Three
Grace Slick
Photo Credit: Bill Owens

[Note: I originally posted this, yesterday, just before midnight. In researching the data, I stumbled across Bill Owens, a photographer that was at Altamont. He was hired by the Associated Press to cover the concert. I emailed him, reference the two photos of his I posted. I hit ‘publish’ before I found his contact page and statement about photos for sale. In my haste to get this up while it was still Friday, I jumped the gun and quickly made the post private. I asked Bill what the price would be to use two of his pictures. As a photographer myself, I understand copyright issues but, I also recognize the gray area that many a blogger operate in, in the blogosphere….Fair Use (link on that, below). Anyway, this very kind gentleman has allowed my one-time use for this 50th anniversary post. He also provided me with a copy of an interview, conducted by Tony D’Souza in April 2019, covering his Altamont experience and other questions regarding his career. I will post an excerpt and attach the full interview, below. ~Vic]

Fifty years, ago, today, a free rock concert was held at the Altamont Speedway in Tracy, California. Described as “rock and roll’s all-time worst day, […], a day when everything went perfectly wrong“, the event saw violence and four deaths, the most notable being the stabbing of Meredith Hunter.

The concert featured (in order of appearance): Santana, Jefferson Airplane, The Flying Burrito Brothers and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, with the Rolling Stones taking the stage as the final act. The Grateful Dead were also scheduled to perform following CSNY but, declined to play shortly before their scheduled appearance due to the increasing violence at the venue.

Approximately 300,000 attended the concert, and some anticipated that it would be a “Woodstock [West Coast verson]”. Woodstock was held in Bethel, New York, in mid-August, less than four months earlier. Filmmakers Albert and David Maysles shot footage of the event and incorporated it into the 1970 documentary film titled Gimme Shelter.

[Source]

Naked Guy Image Two
The naked guy.
Photo Credit: Bill Owens

[It’s] not every day that a rock and roll band’s performance, let alone the Rolling Stones’, is accompanied by a knifing, stomping murder within a scream of the stage.

“The violence,” Keith Richard told the London Evening Standard, “just in front of the stage was incredible. Looking back, I don’t think it was a good idea to have [Hells] Angels there. But, we had them at the suggestion of the Grateful Dead. The trouble is, it’s a problem for us either way. If you don’t have them to work for you as stewards, they come, anyway and cause trouble. But, to be fair, out of the whole 300 Angels working as stewards, the vast majority did what they were supposed to do, which was to regulate the crowds as much as possible without causing any trouble. But, there were about ten or twenty who were completely out of their minds…trying to drive their motorcycles through the middle of the crowds.”

The Maysles Brothers, the film company which had shot the whole Stones’ tour, complete with its violent climax at Altamont, had gotten some remarkable footage of Hunter’s killing.

[Source]

Robert Hiatt, a medical resident at the Public Health Hospital in San Francisco, was the first doctor to reach 18-year-old Meredith Hunter after the fatal wounds. He was behind the stage and responded to Jagger’s call from the stage for a doctor. When Hiatt got to the scene, people were trying to get Hunter up on the stage, apparently in the hope that the Stones would stop playing and help could get through quicker.

The Stones & The Hells Angels Image
Stones on stage with Hells Angels.
Photo Credit: allthatsinteresting.com

Three others […] died (two in a hit-and-run accident, another by drowning) and, countless more were injured and wounded during the course of this daylong “free” concert. It was such a bad trip that it was almost perfect. All it lacked was mass rioting and the murder of one or more musicians.

All these things happened, and worse. Altamont was the product of diabolical egotism, hype, ineptitude, money manipulation and, at base, a fundamental lack of concern for humanity.

[Source]

Interview with Bill Owens:
bill@billowens.com
Bill Owens: Altamont 1969 (Amazon)
50 Years After Altamont: The End of the 60s (The New York Times April 15, 2019)

Bill Owens took iconic photos of the Hells Angels beating concertgoers with pool cue sticks at the Rolling Stones’ performance during the Altamont Speedway Free Festival four months after Woodstock on December 6, 1969. Altamont, which included violence almost all day and one stabbing death, is considered by historians as the end of the Summer of Love and the overall 1960’s youth ethos. This series of photos include panoramas of the massive, unruly crowd, Grace Slick and Carlos Santana on stage with the press of humanity so close in, they’re clearly performing under duress.

Of that day, Owens has written: “I got a call from a friend, she said the Associated Press wanted to hire me for a day to cover a rock and roll concert. I road my motorcycle to the event. I had two Nikons, three lenses, thirteen rolls of film, a sandwich, and a jar of water.”

Owens was so fearful of retribution by the Hells Angels that he published the photos under pseudonyms. Some of the negatives were later stolen…Owens believes by the Angels. He continues to have conflicted feelings about Altamont. He had no interest in violence and took no pride in photographing it.

In 1972, Owens released a book of black and white photography called Suburbia, also, now, an American icon. Irascible, stubborn, funny, grouchy, ornery and deeply rooted in small town life, Owens is built like a middleweight puncher and wears his hair as though he was a Marine. Indeed, Owens was never a hippie but, a clean-cut newspaper photographer, husband and father, who joined the Peace Corps to serve his country and “do good.” Turning 80 this September, Owens has also had noted careers as a craft beer brewer and pub owner, a magazine publisher many times over and, is now a distiller. His books include Suburbia, Working, Leisure and many others. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim and two NEAs. His work is collected in leading museums the world over, including the Smithsonian. Recent coverage of Owens includes an April retrospective in the New York Times (link above) of his Altamont photos for the event’s impending 50th anniversary. The photos are available for viewing at Owens’ website (link above and below).

I first met Owens at the defunct Rostel Gallery in remote and far northern Dunsmuir, CA, in late August or early September of 2008 (I remember because my daughter had just been born and the event was the first outing of her life), where they were showing images from Suburbia. These are images of people embarking on a new, modern way of life that they look excited by, but also confused, as though technology and the modish styles of the time were costumes they were still getting comfortable in. Owens’ photograph of a young suburban boy wearing cowboy boots, carrying a toy rifle and riding a Big Wheel, “Ritchie,” has always haunted me, though I couldn’t say precisely why.

Continue reading the interview HERE (PDF)

Set List
Death of Meredith Hunter
Reactions
Let It Bleed (Rolling Stone Magazine January 21, 1970)
Rock & Roll’s Worst Day (Rolling Stone Magazine February 7, 1970)
Altamont Rock Festival: ’60s Abruptly End (Livermore History March/April 2010)
Altamont Rock Festival of 1969: The Aftermath (Livermore History January/February 2011)
Biggest Rock Concert Ends (The Bulletin December 8, 1969)
Bill Owens Site (Associated Press Photographer at Altamont)
Ruling On Fair Use (American Photography May 3, 2019)