Film Review – EARTHQUAKE (1974)

EARTHQUAKE (1974, USA, 123m, PG) ***
Action, Drama, Thriller
dist. Universal Pictures (USA), Cinema International Corporation (CIC) (UK); pr co. Universal Pictures / The Filmakers Group; d. Mark Robson; w. George Fox, Mario Puzo; pr. Mark Robson; ph. Philip H. Lathrop (Technicolor | 2.35:1); m. John Williams; ed. Dorothy Spencer; pd. Alexander Golitzen; ad. E. Preston Ames.
cast: Charlton Heston (Graff), Ava Gardner (Remy), George Kennedy (Slade), Lorne Greene (Royce), Geneviève Bujold (Denise), Richard Roundtree (Miles), Marjoe Gortner (Jody), Barry Sullivan (Stockle), Lloyd Nolan (Dr. Vance), Victoria Principal (Rosa), Walter Matthau (Drunk (as Walter Matuschanskayasky)), Monica Lewis (Barbara), Gabriel Dell (Sal), Pedro Armendáriz Jr. (Chavez), Lloyd Gough (Cameron), John Randolph (Mayor), Kip Niven (Walter Russell), Scott Hylands (Asst. Caretaker), Tiger Williams (Corry), Donald Moffat (Dr. Harvey Johnson).
A major earthquake hits Los Angeles and various stock characters are thrown into the chaos and destruction. Successful architect Heston argues with his drunken and demanding wife, Gardner, who is also the daughter of his boss Greene.  Bujold is Heston’s distraction from his marriage. Kennedy is a cop suspended for insubordination. Roundtree is an Evel Knievel copyist assisted by Principal. Gortner is a loner army reservist who has fascist tendencies. As the personal dramas are explored, the city is shaken by tremors leading to the inevitable titular event. This is the kind of movie Roland Emmerich has made his fortune producing in more recent times. Here, pre-CGI, the scenes of huge destruction are technically well achieved for the period with some effective matte work and wall-shaking sound (Sensurround was a much-touted new approach to sonics, which ultimately never took). The cast is solid, although Gardner’s histrionics veer toward melodrama. The movie ends abruptly with most of the personal stories left unresolved. Additional footage was shot, without the involvement of Robson, for the 152m TV version.
AA: Best Sound (Ronald Pierce, Melvin M. Metcalfe Sr.); Special Achievement Award for Visual Effects (Frank Brendel, Glen Robinson, Albert Whitlock)
AAN: Best Cinematography (Philip H. Lathrop); Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Alexander Golitzen, E. Preston Ames, Frank R. McKelvy); Best Film Editing (Dorothy Spencer)

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 – MAGNUM FORCE (1973)

Image result for magnum force 1973MAGNUM FORCE (USA, 1973) ***
      Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures (USA), Columbia-Warner Distributors (UK); Production Company: The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 25 December 1973 (USA), 26 December 1973 (UK); Filming Dates: 24 April–late June 1973; Running Time: 124m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Ted Post; Writer: John Milius, Michael Cimino (based on a story by John Milius and original material by Harry Julian Fink and Rita M. Fink); Producer: Robert Daley; Director of Photography: Frank Stanley; Music Composer: Lalo Schifrin; Film Editor: Ferris Webster; Casting Director: Nessa Hyams (uncredited); Art Director: Jack T. Collis; Set Decorator: John Lamphear; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Joe McKinney; Sound: James R. Alexander; Special Effects: Sass Bedig.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Harry Callahan), Hal Holbrook (Lt. Briggs), Mitchell Ryan (McCoy), David Soul (Davis), Tim Matheson (Sweet), Kip Niven (Astrachan), Robert Urich (Grimes), Felton Perry (Early Smith), Maurice Argent (Nat Weinstein), Margaret Avery (Prostitute), Richard Devon (Ricca), Tony Giorgio (Palancio), Jack Kosslyn (Walter), Bob March (Estabrook), Bob McClurg (Cab Driver), John Mitchum (DiGiorgio), Russ Moro (Ricca’s Driver), Clifford A. Pellow (Guzman), Albert Popwell (Pimp), Christine White (Carol McCoy), Adele Yoshioka (Sunny).
      Synopsis: Eastwood’s Inspector Harry Callahan is on the trail of vigilante cops who are not above going beyond the law to kill the city’s undesirables.
      Comment: Sequel to DIRTY HARRY lacks the style and efficiency of the original, suffering from a sluggish pace at times. However, the set pieces are well-handled and Eastwood commands the screen in his signature role with much to enjoy in his verbal jousts with immediate superior Holbrook. Soul also makes an impression in an early career appearance as one of a group of four rookie cops, which also include Urich, Niven and Matheson. The story would have benefited from tighter editing – alterations and additions had been made to Milius’ original script adding some filler and unnecessary scenes. Schifrin’s memorable propulsive score riffs on his similar work on the first film.
      Notes: Suzanne Somers makes an uncredited appearance as one of the victims in the pool scene early in the film. Film debut of Urich. Second of five films in the series and followed by THE ENFORCER (1976), SUDDEN IMPACT (1983) and THE DEAD POOL (1988).