ABC Movie of the Week
Original Air date: Oct. 24, 1972

With James Brolin, Don Mitchell, James McEachin, Abbey Lincoln, Brooke Bundy, Lázaro Pérez, Suzanne Charney, Laurette Spang, Franklin Cover
Directed by Barry Shear
Reviewed by JB

This review is based on the original version of  this film, and not the expanded version shown on television later.

"How many more LIIIVEEESSS????"      A disaster movie clearly inspired by the blockbuster film THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE of the same year, SHORT WALK TO DAYLIGHT, about a group of subway passengers stranded in the tunnels after an earthquake hits New York City, may lack the star power of POSEIDON but remains one of the more impressive, and surprisingly least mentioned, disaster movies of the 1970s. That it was made for television makes it all the more impressive.  Although such a film could not afford a Hollywood budget, the special effects are completely convincing, displaying everything from the earthquake itself to a building cave-in to the East River pouring in from a hole in the tunnel from Manhattan to Brooklyn.

     James Brolin, who had also appeared in the 1972 theatrical disaster film SKYJACKED, is the only name star of the film.  His performance, as well as those of several others, may leave a little to be desired at times, but the situation, the constant moving ahead toward the unknown, and the obstacles placed in the way of the group, override any shortcomings of the actors. As in every disaster movie, there are power struggles, clashes between characters, and stereotyped characters (the "Junkie", the "Angry Black Man", the "Racist Cop") but most of the actors rise above the material, especially in the quieter moments of the film.  However, the less said about the performance of the actor playing "The Junkie" the better!

    Because of the necessary running time of  73 minutes - leaving 47 minutes of a two hour time slot for commercial advertising - SHORT WALK TO DAYLIGHT has little time for anything but moving ahead.  We get to know the characters only as they forge on through the tunnels, hoping to find an exit.  THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE had a half an hour of character exposition before the tidal wave hit; SHORT WALK TO DAYLIGHT has the earthquake hit New York City by minute eight.

    Many people who have seen this film remember a subplot about terrorists setting off a bomb in New York.  During a later airing of this film, ABC added this new footage to make the film longer and more interesting to viewers.  They shouldn't have bothered.  The original version is still gripping and in no need of any stupid terrorist subplot. 4 - JB   

TV Terror!     The Secret Vortex


    As so often happens, when people make films about famous cities such as New York, they get the geography all wrong. The passengers get on at 50th Street, which is in Midtown New York.  The train takes off, makes no stops, and in eight minutes, they are stranded just shy of the Bowling Green station, at the tip of Lower Manhattan. If I could get from the heart of Midtown to far Downtown in eight minutes, I wouldn't mind the every-rising train fare!  That must have been some express train they took! 

    Also, I could find no subway line that included both 50th Street and Bowling Green in their route. However, the film was made over 40 years ago so I will admit that some subway lines could have changed since then,


I know I'm not the first one to notice this, but the young James Brolin and Christian Bale look almost exactly alike.


"Hey, Transit Authority - I want my 35 cents back!"