Hurricane Hilda is crashing down on the Gulf Coast and everyone in its path is about to get all wet. While Will Geer and Michael Learned try to warn everyone about the approaching hurricane, coast guard pilot Martin Milner observes the storm from the air and tires to rescue everyone in its path. Some people listen and some people don’t. Milner’s own father, played by Barry Sullivan, ends up getting stranded in a cabin while Larry Hagman and Jessica Walter play a married couple on a boat who find themselves sailing straight into the storm. On temporarily dry land, Frank Sutton (a.k.a. Gomer Pyle’s Sgt. Carter) plays a homeowner who refuses to evacuate because he’s convinced that he knows everything there is to know about hurricanes. He and the neighbors have a drunken party while waiting for the storm. When Patrick Duffy and his wife announce that they’re heading for safety, Sutton demands that they come in and have a beer with him. When Hilda finally makes landfall, some survive and some don’t.
Hurricane is a by-the-numbers disaster movie. It was made after The Poseidon Adventure and during the same year as The Towering Inferno and it hits all the usual disaster movie beats. Survival is determined by karma, with Hilda going after anyone who was too big of a jerk during the first half of the movie. It’s predictable stuff but it does feature footage from an actual hurricane so it’s at least not too dragged down by any of the bad special effects that always show up in made-for-TV disaster films.
This is one of those films where the cast was probably described as being all-star, even though most of them were just TV actors who needed a quick paycheck. Seen today, the film feels like a MeTV reunion special. Years before they played brothers in Dallas, both Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy appeared in Hurricane, though neither of them shares any scenes. Will Geer and Michael Learned were starring on The Waltons when they appeared in this movie and they’re in so few scenes that they probably shot their scenes over a weekend before returning to Walton’s Mountain. The best performance is from Frank Sutton, who died of a heart attack just a few weeks after this movie aired. He’s a convincing hothead, even if he doesn’t have Gomer around to yell at.
Hurricane may be bad but it’s still not as terrible as most made-for-TV disaster movies. People who enjoy watching TV actors pretending to stare at a tidal wave of water about to crash down on them will find this film to be an adequate time waster.