Film Review – AIRPORT 1975 (1974)

AIRPORT 1975 (1974, USA, 107m, PG) **½
Action, Drama, Thriller
dist. Universal Pictures; pr co. Universal Pictures; d. Jack Smight; w. Don Ingalls (based on the novel “Airport” by Arthur Hailey); pr. William Frye; ph. Philip H. Lathrop (Technicolor | 2.35:1); m. John Cacavas; ed. Terry Williams; ad. George C. Webb.
cast: Charlton Heston (Alan Murdock), Karen Black (Nancy Pryor), George Kennedy (Joe Patroni), Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Captain Stacy), Susan Clark (Helen Patroni), Helen Reddy (Sister Ruth), Linda Blair (Janice Abbott), Dana Andrews (Scott Freeman), Roy Thinnes (Urias), Sid Caesar (Barney), Myrna Loy (Mrs. Devaney), Ed Nelson (Major John Alexander), Nancy Olson (Mrs. Abbott), Larry Storch (Glenn Purcell), Martha Scott (Sister Beatrice), Jerry Stiller (Sam), Norman Fell (Bill), Conrad Janis (Arnie), Beverly Garland (Mrs. Scott Freeman), Linda Harrison (Winnie (as Augusta Summerland)), Guy Stockwell (Colonel Moss), Erik Estrada (Julio), Kip Niven (Lt. Thatcher), Charles White (Fat Man), Brian Morrison (Joseph Patroni, Jr.), Amy Farrell (Amy), Irene Tsu (Carol), Ken Sansom (Gary), Alan Fudge (Danton), Christopher Norris (Bette), Austin Stoker (Air Force Sgt.), John Lupton (Oringer), Gene Dynarski (1st. Friend), Aldine King (Aldine), Sharon Gless (Sharon), Laurette Spang (Arlene), Gloria Swanson (Gloria Swanson).
This first sequel to 1970’s AIRPORT follows the same formula. This time an in-flight collision incapacitates the pilots of an airplane bound for Los Angeles. Stewardess Black is forced to take over the controls, whilst on the ground her boyfriend Heston, a retired test pilot, tries to talk her through piloting and landing the 747 aircraft. The all-star cast make up the passengers, but they are a mere diversion from the main action taking place in the plane’s cockpit. Ingalls’ script distributes lines evenly amongst them but to little dramatic effect. The sub-plot regarding Blair’s character, in transit for a kidney transplant, fails to build any drama. Black gives the film’s strongest performance, adeptly conveying the fear and responsibility that rests on her shoulders, whilst Heston delivers his usual square-jawed heroics. The finale, despite its familiarity and inconsistent execution, does create some tension and ultimately the film is a mixed bag lacking the gloss of the original but being more concise. The aerial shots over Heber City, Utah and the Wasatch Mountains are stunningly photographed. Swanson’s final film and she reportedly wrote all her own dialogue. Followed by AIRPORT ’77 (1977).

Film Review – AIRPORT (1970)

AIRPORT (1970, USA, 137m, PG) ***
Drama, Thriller
dist. Universal Pictures; pr co. Universal Pictures / Ross Hunter Productions; d. George Seaton; w. George Seaton (based on the novel by Arthur Hailey); pr. Ross Hunter; ph. Ernest Laszlo (Technicolor | 2.20:1); m. Alfred Newman; ed. Stuart Gilmore; ad. E. Preston Ames, Alexander Golitzen.
cast: Burt Lancaster (Mel Bakersfeld), Dean Martin (Vernon Demerest), Jean Seberg (Tanya Livingston), Jacqueline Bisset (Gwen Meighen), George Kennedy (Patroni), Helen Hayes (Ada Quonsett), Van Heflin (D.O. Guerrero), Maureen Stapleton (Inez Guerrero), Barry Nelson (Anson Harris), Dana Wynter (Cindy), Lloyd Nolan (Harry Standish), Barbara Hale (Sarah Demerest), Gary Collins (Cy Jordan), John Findlater (Peter Coakley), Jessie Royce Landis (Mrs. Harriet DuBarry Mossman), Larry Gates (Commissioner Ackerman), Peter Turgeon (Marcus Rathbone), Whit Bissell (Mr. Davidson), Virginia Grey (Mrs. Schultz), Eileen Wesson (Judy Barton).
The cycle of 1970s all-star, big-budget disaster movies began with this adaptation of Arthur Hailey’s best-selling novel. Lancaster plays the general manager of a Chicago-area airport, who must contend with a massive snowstorm and other issues, both work-related and personal, while the troubled Heflin threatens to blow up an airliner on a flight to Rome piloted by Martin. The first half of the film sets up the characters and their domestic situations and is deliberately paced by Seaton, who uses various split-screen techniques, skilfully edited by Gilmore, to help with pacing. His script is wordy, and dialogue is sometimes stilted as he often feels the need to explain airport protocol through character discussion. Lancaster is imposing and Martin plays the material deadly straight. Kennedy’s confident trouble-shooter, Joe Patroni, would go on to appear in all three sequels. The rest of the cast give solid if often earnest, performances and Hayes won an Oscar for her eccentric stowaway. The tension, aided by Newman’s vigorous score, builds in the final third as Heflin is discovered and the threat to the flight becomes real. The film inexplicably received ten Oscar nominations, but only Hayes picked up an award. Hailey was reportedly paid $500,000 for the screen rights. Henry Hathaway directed some of the outdoor winter scenes uncredited covering for a sick Seaton. This was the final film of both Heflin and Landis. Shot in 70 mm Todd-AO. Followed by three sequels: AIRPORT 1975 (1974), AIRPORT ‘77 (1977), and THE CONCORDE…AIRPORT ’79 (1979).
AA: Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Helen Hayes).
AAN: Best Picture; Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Maureen Stapleton); Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (George Seaton); Best Cinematography (Ernest Laszlo); Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Alexander Golitzen, E. Preston Ames, Jack D. Moore, Mickey S. Michaels); Best Costume Design (Edith Head); Best Sound (Ronald Pierce, David H. Moriarty); Best Film Editing (Stuart Gilmore) and Best Music, Original Score (Alfred Newman).