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Goliath Awaits
(1981)

Director: Kevin Connor   
Cast:
Mark Harmon, Robert Forster, Christopher Lee


A while back in one of my reviews, I brought up the topic of obsessions - namely stuff that happened in your childhood that continues to more or less stick with you today as an adult. These kind of memories can be pleasant memories, or they can be unpleasant memories. Either way, they more or less haunt you to this day. I gave some personal examples of this, like the first time certain things happened to me. But there are also in my life, and in other people's lives, haunting memories of stuff that may be considered routine and not warranting of such obsessive behavior by people on the outside. A good example of this can be memories of stuff that was simply entertaining you all those years ago. I can give personal examples of this. I was practically obsessed with reading as a child (when I was not watching movies), and I have memories of books that, as time went on, I forgot the title of and I was obsessed with finding out just what book it was I read. There was this book about a wimpy kid who was determined to make good, but he kept being humiliated by stuff like always getting the "Most Improved Player" trophy every year by the little league baseball team he was in. I remember in the big game he was eventually in he yelled "BOOGA BOOGA!" while running between bases in order to confuse the other team. (I finally remembered years later this book was Skinnybones.) Then there was this story about a kid whose parents get divorced. His mother makes macaroni and cheese every night, which causes him to run away from home until his mom makes some soup. His father also makes macaroni and cheese when he visits him. (An inquiry on the Internet quickly answered this - it was the book Don't Make Me Smile.)

While I am pretty sure that many of you out there might have some vague memories of books that you can't remember the titles for, I think that when it comes to entertainment that you experienced as a child, there is one medium that has given you more haunting memories than any other, and that is motion pictures. Even before starting this web site, and even before I started to cruise the Internet, I learned that seemingly everyone has at least one movie that they saw as a child that they don't remember the title of, and they are looking for the answer to that question. Being obsessed with movies even as a youngster, I have had plenty of "What was the name of that movie?" questions swimming in my head throughout my life. I remember one World War Two movie where in the climax, some resistance fighters were fighting German soldiers coming into their church, and when the resistance fighters took refuge in the basement, the Germans flooded it. (I found out years later that movie was Operation Daybreak.) Then there was this foreign animated movie I saw at a theater in the '70s which had a little blue dog in it; I did find out the name of this movie years later, but darn it, as time continued to progress, I forgot the title again! (Come on, someone out there in cyberspace must know the name of this movie!) Some of these memories I have mentioned before on this web site. In one review, I recalled this haunting western where a guy was tortured by Indians while tied to a wagon wheel, and when help arrives the next day, he was so burnt and hurting that he asked for a gun so he could shoot himself. (That movie was Duel At Diablo.)

Over the years, I have heard plenty of other people who have seen a movie in their childhoods that they just can't remember the title of, and they are looking for someone to help answer that question. Either I would come across their pleads of help as I surfed the Internet, or they would come to my web site and e-mail me directly. I used to offer my help in both of these cases before I became too busy to help these people. During those years when I would read the cries of help from these stuck people, I came across two movies that more from any others were haunting the memories of people since their childhoods. The first movie involved a gigantic turtle - a real big turtle that, when it was much younger and smaller, had the initials of two children who found it carved in its shell. And during the climax of the movie, the turtle dragged a human to his death down in the depths of the sea. The movie also had a haunting musical score. For those of you who haven't found the title of that movie, I'll tell you now - it's the TV movie The Bermuda Depths. The second movie is the one being reviewed here, Goliath Awaits. Here is the plot that has stuck with certain people all of these years: In 1939, just days after the Second World War has started in Europe, the British luxury liner Goliath is torpedoed by a German U-Boat. The ship sinks to the bottom of the sea, but there are survivors... but not the kind you are thinking of. An air bubble in the ship keeps several hundred passengers alive, and through the ingenuity of some of them, they and their descendants survive for the next forty plus years. Then one day, divers from the surface world discover the ship and all of its inhabitants...

Goliath Awaits is one of the most confusing movie experiences I have had in a long time. The confusion I got from the movie started even before I watched the movie, when I finally got a copy of the movie in my hands that the now defunct video company Vidmark put out. For starters, take the big picture of Mark Harmon that takes up much of the front of the video box. It shows him with what appears to be a few days growth of beard, but in the movie itself, he is shown to be clean-shaven except for a bushy mustache. Then there is the running time of the movie. On the back of the box, there is the claim that it is one hundred and ten minutes long, but according to my VCR's timer, the actual running time from start to finish is about ninety six minutes. I'm sure that some readers will insist those two things can be easily dismissed - Vidmark may have wanted a recent picture of Harmon that potential viewers would be more able to identify with, and the wrong running time may have just been an honest mistake. But as you will soon see, things just get stranger and stranger with a further examination of the box. Take a look at the rating that the movie got from the MPAA that's plastered on the box - PG-13. That may not sound strange, until the fact comes up that this movie was made for television - and in the early 80s, no less! TV then was a lot tamer than it is today, and there's nothing in the movie to warrant such a rating. Then there is the plot description at the back of the box. It says, "The torpedoed luxury liner 'Goliath' entombs a Nazi file whose secrets could destroy the free world... Eddie Albert sends [Mark Harmon and Robert Forster] on a covert mission to retrieve the demonic document."

Further on, the plot description reveals that, "the bestial ship's insatiable boiler feeds on human blood." Well, guess what? There is no Nazi document in the movie, actually seen or even mentioned. As for the ship's boiler, there is nothing in the movie to suggest it is spiritually possessed in any manner. Maybe this stuff was in the movie originally. I say that, because of a fact that I uncovered during my research of the movie. I found out that this movie originally aired in two parts, and ran two hundred minutes long. Yes, around half of this movie's running time was cut for its video cassette release. This may also explain why this version of the movie had a lot of unanswered questions. How, for one thing, were the inhabitants of the ship able to keep the air fresh in this air pocket for all of these decades? For that matter, how were they able to get a large and steady supply of fresh water? How were they able to have a diet of food that did not give them scurvy? (While it is shown at one point that they able to grow an indoor garden of various foods, judging from its size there is no way it could feed hundreds of people day after day for years.) How was their supply of oil able to be spread out for years to give them, among other things, a steady supply of electrical light? Why have "The Bow People", the outcasts of the ship, been banished? Why has the ship's doctor been poisoning certain people of the ship for years? How come the majority of the people on the ship be able to be clean-shaven and able to wear clean clothing that shows no signs of being worn out that also happens to be more than forty years old? We never get the answers to these questions, at least in this version of the movie. 

Even during the parts of the movie that make a lot more sense, the chopped-up editing of the movie still hurts. Take the first few minutes of the movie, for instance. After establishing that there is a group of divers searching for something (whether it was originally the Goliath or for something else is not revealed), by the six minute mark they are diving down and headed for the ship they have discovered at the bottom of the sea. Previous to their diving, we do not get to learn anything about these men - what their personalities are like, or anything else. When they are at the ship and discover there is life aboard, they immediately surface, go to Puerto Rico for about fifteen seconds, then head back to the sunken ship. Then there is the ending of the movie. I won't reveal what happens in the final few seconds, except to say that they all of a sudden cut to the closing credits before we get the expected payoff for all the time we have put into watching the movie. As you have probably guessed by now, Goliath Awaits, at least in this version, is a serious mess. Is there any reason to watch it all the same? There will be some people who will point to the cast. Besides Mark Harmon, Eddie Albert, and Robert Forster, there are also roles for people like John Carradine and Christopher Lee. But of those five actors, only Harmon and Lee get serious screen time. It's always a treat to see Lee, and he does try hard, but even his performance isn't enough to save this edited junk. As for Harmon... well, he gives a typical Harmon performance, but even his fans may be embarrassed if they see him in this version. If someday I get to see the unedited version, I'll revisit it and add my thoughts of it to this review. But as for now... well... I think you get the idea of the disaster that's here.


UPDATE: A couple of readers were kind enough to tell me that the "little blue dog" movie I saw as a child was the animated movie Once Upon A Time. My thanks to those readers for solving the mystery!


UPDATE 2: Nick Johansen sent this in:

"I was looking up reviews in regards to the Telefilm Goliath Awaits. You mentioned that you were forced to watch a heavily edited version of the film, which left a variety of plot holes. Thanks to youtube, someone has generously uploaded the entire 200 minute series. The link to it is here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6fF7l-Xf_0

"I will tell you though, that the back of the box description you spoke of in the review is still hideously wrong, even in the 200 minute version. The "Nazi Document" Actually details an issue between the U.S Navy and the Royal Navy, and the "Boiler that eats blood" is where they cremate their dead members. "

Check for availability on Amazon (VHS)

See also: City On Fire, Dr. Cook's Garden, Pandemonium

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