UC Berkeley Library

Disaster Films

Panic In the Streets (1950)

Directed by Elia Kazan. Cast: Richard Widmark, Paul Douglas, Barbara Bel Geddes. Classic crime melodrama about a twisted killer who harbors bubonic plague -- a deadly disease that could wipe out an entire city. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Poseidon (1972)

Directed by Wolfgang Petersen. Cast: Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas, Richard Dreyfuss, Jacinda Barrett, Emmy Rossum, Mike Vogel, Mia Maestro, Jimmy Bennett, Andre Braugher. On New Year's Eve, the luxury ocean liner, Poseidon, capsizes after being swamped by a rogue wave. The survivors are left to fight for survival as they attempt to escape the sinking ship. Based on the novel by Paul Gallico and the motion picture "The Poseidon adventure." Special features: "Poseidon: A ship on a soundstage: The complexities of making a modern adventure movie" ; theatrical trailer. 98 min.

San Francisco (1936)

Directed by W.S. Van Dyke. Cast: Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald, Spencer Tracy, Jack Holt, Jessie Ralph. Blackie Norton is proprietor of the Paradise Saloon on the infamous Barbary Coast of San Francisco. Into his den of high-flying low life walks Mary Blake looking to pursue a singing career. Norton hires her, but soon their professional relationship develops into something far warmer. Just when their emotions reach a fever pitch the whole of San Francisco comes down about their heads in the earthquake of 1906. 116 min.

Snakes on a Plane (2006)

Directed by David R. Ellis. Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Julianna Margulies, Nathan Phillips, Rachel Blanchard, Flex Alexander, Kenan Thompson, Keith "Blackman" Dallas, Lin Shaye, Bruce James, Sunny Mabrey. Nelville Flynn is escorting a witness on a plane that is bound for Los Angeles. The problem is that an assassin is bent on killing the witness. The assassin releases a crate containing about 450 deadly snakes onto the same plane. Nelville finds out and he becomes bent on doing his job and getting the snakes back where they belong - on land.

The China Syndrome (1979)

Directed by James Bridges. Cast: Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon, Michael Douglas, Richard Herd, Peter Donat, Scott Brady. It started as just another assignment. Reporter Kimberly Wells and cameraman Richard Adams were covering the daily routine at an Los Angeles power plant when the unthinkable occurred: a nuclear accident that could have wiped out Southern California. And Richard caught it all on tape. When their TV station refuses to air the footage, Wells and Adams recruit plant supervisor Jack Godell to expose the terrifying truth: the facility is a ticking bomb.

The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

Directed by Roland Emmerich. Cast: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum, Dash Mihok, Jay O. Sanders, Sela Ward, Austin Nichols, Arjay Smith, Tamlyn Tomita. When global warming triggers the onset of a new Ice Age, tornadoes flatten Los Angeles, a tidal wave engulfs New York City and the entire Northern Hemisphere begins to freeze solid. Now, climatologist Jack Hall, his son Sam, and a small band of survivors must ride out the growing superstorm and stay alive in the face of an enemy more powerful and relentless than anything anyone has ever encountered: Mother Nature. 123 min.

The High and the Mighty (1954)

Directed by William A. Wellman. Cast: John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Laraine Day, Robert Stack, Jan Sterling. A commercial airliner develops engine trouble while flying over the Pacific Ocean. The pilot panics, so it is up to the washed-up co-pilot to get the plane down safely. Based on an Ernest K. Gann bestseller. 148 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

The Hurricane (1937)

Directed by John Ford. Cast: Dorothy Lamour, Jon Hall, Raymond Massey, Mary Astor, C. Aubrey Smith. The simple, peaceful life on a South Pacific island is disrupted, not only by a vindictive governor but also by a violent typhoon. 103 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database
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The Last Days of Pompeii (Ultimi giorni di Pompeii) (Italy, 1913)

Directed by Mario Caserini. An influential Italian epic that paved the way for elaborate costume dramas about the final hours of residents of Pompeii before the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Among the last of the great tableaux films, most scenes are explained by a title, then dramatized within a single wide shot, a presentation style whose origins are more theatrical and literary than cinematic. 88 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

Directed by Ronald Neame. Cast: Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons, Carol Lynley, Roddy McDowall, Stella Stevens, Shelley Winters, Jack Albertson, Pamela Sue Martin, Arthur O'Connell, Eric Shea, Leslie Nielsen. One of the most gripping disaster films of all time follows ten survivors as they struggle to reach safety after an ocean liner is capsized in mid sea by a tidal wave. Suspenseful terror, combined with the victims' intimate stories, results in compelling and heart-stopping drama. Based on the novel by Paul Gallico. 117 min.