No, all the mass destruction is caused by an monstrous, 3,000-mile long earthquake triggered by a solar eclipse -- an event which captures the world's scientists by surprise. They obviously missed the newspaper headline featured in Deluge screaming WORLD DOOMED!
|"Now you stay here, sweetheart, while|
Daddy goes back to higher ground."
|Because, well, why the hell not?|
|"Shoot now, sex later, right?"|
|"Darling! Thank God I interrupted your affair!"|
While Helen is ready to calmly work things out with her husband's girlfriend -- something all wives would do, right? -- Claire isn't so liberal-minded. Eventually, she decides to leave the same way she entered: half-naked in the ocean. This dame knows how to make an entrance and an exit, that's for sure.
Deluge's legendary status is due to its opening 20-minute mass-destruction scene, which climaxes with New York City being wiped out by an earthquake and tsunami that makes Fukushima look like a puddle of dog urine.
While it's not necessarily realistic to 21st-century eyes, the sequence is genuinely remarkable. The set is huge by 1933 standards, and the amount of water used to flood it is incalculable. No CGI here, folks; this was clearly one of those rare moments where the crew had only one chance to get it right.
Buildings shake and fall; railroads are destroyed; waves wipe out the Battery Park area, Midtown and the West Side. Only my Upper East Side neighborhood is apparently unscathed. I knew I lived here for a reason.
|"Now let's get laid, pronto."|
|Behind the scenes of Deluge: the crew puts finishing touches on the|
Manhattan set before wiping it out.
And so, Deluge was doomed to survive only in old movie magazines until a battered print with Italian subtitles turned up in 1988. A better, non-subtitled copy was discovered in 2016, and released on Blu-Ray last month.
Despite Deluge's shortcomings, fans can take heart. First of all, it exists. When you consider that half of movies made before 1950 are allegedly missing, that alone is worth celebrating.
Second, there's plenty of welcome pre-code hijinks to liven things up (semi-nudity, sex, violence, death by makeshift spike, etc.). And, of course, its rasion d'etre, the lengthy destruction of New York City, which can still electrify even today. Deluge might not quite live up to its legend, but it creates a flood of gratitude for movie fans today.