Condominium (film)

Condominium is a 1980 American two-part, four-hour made-for-television disaster film starring Barbara Eden, Dan Haggerty, Steve Forrest and featuring an all-star supporting cast: Ana Alicia, Richard Anderson, Ralph Bellamy, Larry Bishop, MacDonald Carey, Dane Clark, Linda Cristal, Elinor Donahue, Don Galloway, Pamela Hensley, Arte Johnson, Jack Jones, Dorothy Malone, Mimi Maynard, Lee Paul, Nehemiah Persoff, Nedra Volz, Carlene Watkins and Stuart Whitman. The film is based on the 1977 novel of the same name by John D. MacDonald.[1]

Based onCondominium (novel) by John D. MacDonald
Written bySteve Hayes
Directed bySidney Hayers
StarringBarbara Eden
Dan Haggerty
Steve Forrest
Ana Alicia
Richard Anderson
Ralph Bellamy
Larry Bishop
Macdonald Carey
Dane Clark
Linda Cristal
Elinor Donahue
Don Galloway
Pamela Hensley
Arte Johnson
Jack Jones
Dorothy Malone
Mimi Maynard
Lee Paul
Nehemiah Persoff
Nedra Volz
Carlene Watkins
Stuart Whitman
Music byGerald Fried
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)Robert A. Cinader
Producer(s)Gian R. Grimaldi
Hannah L. Shearer
Production location(s)Panama City, Florida
CinematographyFrank Thackery
Editor(s)John Kaufman Jr.
Running time195 minutes
Production company(s)Universal Television
DistributorOperation Prime Time
Original networkHBO
Picture formatColor
Audio formatMono
Original releaseApril 6 
7, 1980

Condominium was originally broadcast on HBO on April 6 and 7, 1980,[2] and then broadcast commercially seven months later in syndication on November 20 and 21, 1980 as part of Operation Prime Time, a syndicated block of television programming offered to mostly American independent stations.[3]


The film is divided into two parts: the first part depicts events in the lives of the residents at Silver Sands Condominium in the fictional city of Fiddler Key, Florida – a complex built by a greedy and irresponsible corporation – and the problems that occur when an impending hurricane threatens to destroy Silver Sands; the second part begins with the hurricane approaching Fiddler Key while residents struggle to reach the mainland for safety, followed by a powerful tidal wave which eventually destroys Silver Sands Condominium and the aftermath of the storm.[4]


Part 1

The residents of Silver Sands Condominium in Fiddler Key, Florida are dealing with rising condominium association fees, as well as interpersonal relationships and conflicts taking place within their building. Barbara Messenger (Barbara Eden) is the younger wife of wealthy retired industrialist Lee Messenger (Ralph Bellamy) who is dying of cancer. She develops an attraction to hydraulics engineer Sam Harrison (Dan Haggerty), who is visiting his friend Gus Garver (Steve Forrest), a retired engineer acting as Chairman of the condominium homeowners association and whose wife is recovering from a stroke in the hospital. Sam is the one who first discovers the cracks in the building's foundation and notices the poor materials and workmanship characterizing the construction of the building.

Meanwhile, Jack Messenkott (Don Galloway), a middle-aged man and his emotionally fragile younger wife Thelma (Ana Alicia) are an unhappily married couple: Jack is frustrated with Thelma and does not share her love of the natural environment surrounding the condominium while he prefers spending time playing tennis. Julian Higbee (Larry Bishop), a playboy and the sleazy manager of Silver Sands, is married to the beautiful Lorrie (Mimi Maynard) but is having an affair with nurse Bobbie Fish (Carlene Watkins).

Sam begins working closely with Gus, the Messengers, Henry Churchbridge (Richard Anderson), a former CIA agent, and his wealthy aristocratic Italian wife Carlotta (Linda Cristal) to try to make unscrupulous construction magnate Marty Liss (Stuart Whitman) pay for a seawall and other repairs that might help provide reinforcement for the building. The residents of Silver Sands do not realize that Liss and his construction operation are a front to launder syndicate money and that construction of the condominium was the result of these endeavors. Liss cut corners on the building's construction in order to pocket some of the budget for the construction costs for himself.

Part 2

As Sam and Gus try to raise the consciousness of the other Silver Sands residents regarding the potential safety issues concerning the building, they must eventually deal with the impending arrival of the deadly Hurricane Ella. Conlaw (Nehemiah Persoff), a ruthless Miami mobster that Marty Liss works for who financed the construction of Silver Sands, is outraged when he learns Liss embezzled money from the construction budget for his own personal gain, especially since his elderly mother Mrs. Conlaw (Nedra Volz) is living in the building. Meanwhile, Lorrie and Bobbie are both fed up with Julian and turn to each other for emotional support; when Lorrie mentions to Bobbie that she is leaving Julian once and for all, Julian walks in on them and Lorrie stands up to him and both women walk out on Julian for good.

As the storm approaches with winds of 130 miles an hour, most of the residents vacate to the mainland for safety, while other residents who refuse to vacate decide to stay behind and throw a "Hurricane Party". Hurricane Ella powerfully generates a storm surge that strikes Fiddler Key and crashes into the condominium, causing the building to crumble into the ocean. A guilt-stricken Marty Liss commits suicide as he overhears the horrible events of the storm being reported on the radio. One month later, Gus's wife is still recovering at the hospital; Henry and Carlotta Churchbridge have relocated to Switzerland to begin a new life; Barbara and Sam are reunited in Fiddler Key and, still shocked by the destruction of Silver Sands Condominium, they realize they must continue to live their lives with the after-effects of Hurricane Ella.


Barbara EdenBarbara MessengerAn attractive young woman; married to wealthy retired industrialist Lee Messenger
Dan HaggertySam HarrisonA hydraulics engineer; a friend of Gus Garver
Steve ForrestGus GarverA retired engineer acting as Chairman of the condominium homeowners association
Ana AliciaThelma MessenkottAn emotionally fragile young woman; Jack Messenkott's wife
Richard AndersonHenry ChurchbridgeA former CIA agent; Carlotta's husband
Ralph BellamyLee MessengerA wealthy retired industrialist; Barbara's older husband
Larry BishopJulian HigbeeA playboy and sleazy building manager; married to Lorrie and having an affair with Bobbie
MacDonald CareyDr. Arthur CastorAdministrator of the local hospital where Gus's wife is recovering from a stroke
Dane ClarkPete McGinnity
Linda CristalCarlotta ChurchbridgeA wealthy aristocratic Italian woman; Henry's wife
Elinor DonahueAudrey AmesA resident of Silver Sands; Brooke's wife
Don GallowayJack MessenkottA middle-aged man; unhappily married to younger wife Thelma
Pamela HensleyDrusilla ByrneAn associate of Marty Liss spying on Silver Sands residents; attracted to Gus Garver
Arte JohnsonBrooke AmesA resident of Silver Sands; Audrey's husband
Jack JonesCole KimberA building contractor working for Marty Liss; attracted to Drusilla Byrne
Dorothy MaloneMolly Denniver
Mimi MaynardLorrie HigbeeA resident of Silver Sands; Julian's wife
Lee PaulVic York
Nehemiah PersoffConlawA Miami mobster who financed the construction of Silver Sands for Marty Liss
Nedra VolzMrs. ConlawAn elderly resident of Silver Sands; Conlaw's mother
Carlene WatkinsBobbie FishA nurse having an affair with Julian
Stuart WhitmanMarty LissAn unscrupulous construction magnate of a greedy and irresponsible corporation

Production notes

Condominium was filmed from August to November 1979 on location at Pinnacle Port Condominiums in Panama City, Florida and Playa del Rey in Los Angeles, California; interior scenes were shot at Universal Studios in Universal City, California.[5]

According to production notes, in the scene where Barbara Eden, Dan Haggerty and Ralph Bellamy are struggling to reach the mainland during the hurricane which was filmed at Falls Lake on the backlot of Universal Studios, executive producer Robert A. Cinader had a real challenge to create hurricane-like forces on a beautiful sunny California day. Combining the forces of the Los Angeles County Fire Department in the use of three fire engines, a deluge truck, a portable deluge gun and eight firemen, Cinader was able to pump 9,500 gallons of water per minute into the lake toward the boat housing the cast; with the aid of special effects coordinator Dave Lopez and his crew, water cannons, large wind machines, wave and rain-making machines were all put into action. Although the skies were blue and cloudless, and the sunshine was enough to burn the skin, the result was a stormy, dark effect with crashing, water-swollen waves which ultimately capsized the boat. Much of this equipment was driven to the Florida location also to be used in creating dramatic hurricane scenes at the actual condominium site.[6]

The interiors and the exterior of the condominium were duplicated in miniature size for the hurricane scenes. To get the realistic effect of a hurricane tidal wave crashing into the condominium, a sixty-man crew at Universal Studios' Soundstage 27 created an 8-foot high replica of the actual Florida condominium, complete with swimming pool. The tidal wave effect called for 10 wind machines, six wave-makers and four dump tanks that unleashed 80 tons of water down three chutes.[7]


  • "A playground for the rich, poised on the brink of destruction!"
  • "They thought they were buying Paradise. What they got was a killer hurricane!"
  • "Mammoth tidal wave puts Condominium residents on a collision course with disaster!"

Condominium was one of the many TV movies, miniseries and other shows syndicated to local independent television stations in the USA in the late 1970s-early 1980s as part of a project known as Operation Prime Time, in an effort to compete with the three major broadcast networks.


  1. Condominium - TV miniseries at The New York Times, retrieved February 1, 2015
  2. Sarasota Journal, retrieved January 20, 2015
  3. The Evening News, retrieved January 28, 2015
  4. Encyclopedia of Television Series, Pilots and Specials, Volume 2, retrieved January 20, 2015
  5. Sarasota Herald Tribune, retrieved January 30, 2015
  6. Sarasota Herald Tribune, retrieved January 28, 2015
  7. Chaos and Catastrophe in the Movies, retrieved February 1, 2015
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