September 01, 1980 12:00 PM

The irresistible drama surrounding the sinking of the unsinkable liner remains undiminished 68 years after it went down off Newfoundland. To capitalize on that interest, Britain’s lord of the potboilers, Lew Grade, reportedly spent $33 million on this semi-epic. It’s adapted from Clive Cussler’s bestseller, which hypothesizes a monumental coincidence: On board the Titanic, it seems, was a load of a rare ore that now can be used to build an impregnable antimissile system. As Richard Jordan, the hero in charge of the raising, admits, “I’m not going to say it will be easy.” But the process itself is interesting, and there are a few predictable crises, though nary one giant octopus shows up. Jordan, Jason Robards and David Selby are accessories in this film: They dryly crack out snippets of dialogue, included just to tie together the special effects. The effects, credited to production designer John De Cuir, are mostly convincing, and John Barry’s often balletic music is reminiscent of his evocative James Bond scores. A romantic subplot involving Anne (Hero at Large) Archer is irrelevant—though she is a lovely and substantial presence—and some plot turns don’t bear scrutiny. Yet, pending the results of a real-life search for the Titanic (PEOPLE, Aug. 4), this is a diverting, seaworthy adventure film. (PG)

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