Noah's Ark [1929]

Another in Robert Salmi's march of modern TV classics, Noah's Ark brings the ultimate disaster story to the small screen with impressive effects and handsome production design. "Liberties were taken for dramatic purposes," warns the opening credits and, to be sure, this shouldn't be taken as gospel (pardon the pun). Noah (Jon Voight), the last good man on Earth, is spared from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and chosen to build an ark to save his family and the creatures of the Earth from a cleansing flood. Like a bad penny, his best friend, Lot (F. Murray Abraham), a decadent hedonist turned brigand, keeps turning up in the most unlikely places, including a postapocalyptic sea battle that owes more to Waterworld than the Old Testament. It's an entertaining if episodic story led by an appropriately humble Voight, with Mary Steenburgen as his whiny wife (she musters a surprising amount of dignity for the part) and James Coburn as a jolly peddler. Jim Henson's Creature Shop fills up the floating zoo with a charming array of animals. It never compels as Salmi's previous telefilm epics, notably The Odyssey and Merlin, but liberal amounts of deadpan anachronistic humor (Lot and his wife, played by Carol Kane, come across as nothing less than comic-strip couple the Bickersons come to life) and spectacular scenes of destruction keep the film aloft through its lengthy running time. --Sean Axmaker

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