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 – THE STONE KILLER (1973)

THE STONE KILLER (1973, USA, 95m, 15) ***
Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller
dist. Columbia Pictures (USA), Columbia-Warner Distributors (UK); pr co. Dino de Laurentiis Cinematografica / Produzioni Cinematografiche Inter. Ma. Co. / Rizzoli Film; d. Michael Winner; w. Gerald Wilson (based on the novel “A Complete State of Death” by John Gardner); pr. Michael Winner; ph. Richard Moore (Technicolor | 1.85:1); m. Roy Budd; ed. Frederick Wilson; ad. Ward Preston.
cast: Charles Bronson (Lou Torrey), Martin Balsam (Al Vescari), Jack Colvin (Jumper), Paul Koslo (Langley), Norman Fell (Les Daniels), David Sheiner (Guido Lorenz), Stuart Margolin (Lawrence), Ralph Waite (Mathews), Alfred Ryder (Tony Champion), Walter Burke (J D), Kelley Miles (Geraldine Wexton), Eddie Firestone (Armitage), Charles Tyner (Police Psychiatrist), Byron Morrow (Station Commander), Lisabeth Hush (Dr. Helen Torrey), Frank Campanella (Calabriese), Gene Woodbury (Paul Long), Robert Emhardt (Fussy Man), David Moody (Gus Lipper), John Ritter (Hart).
A decent gritty action thriller vehicle for Bronson as a police detective who learns a 1930s mobster (Martin Balsam) has formed a killer elite to settle an old gangland score. Winner handles the tough and violent action scenes well, but he is less adept with the actors, who give variable performances. The location shifts from New York to Los Angeles are jarringly edited at times and the screenplay lacks clarity of focus. Roy Budd’s energetic score helps to keep things moving and the climactic shootout is well-staged. John Gardner’s 1969 source novel was set in the UK.

Film Review – THE PARK AVENUE RUSTLERS (TV) (1972)

Image result for mccloud the park avenue rustlersPark Avenue Rustlers, The (TV) (1972; USA; Technicolor; 74m) ***  d. Jack Arnold; w. Sy Salkowitz; ph. William Cronjager; m. Lee Holdridge.  Cast: Dennis Weaver, J. D. Cannon, Eddie Albert, Roddy McDowall, Diana Muldaur, Brenda Vaccaro, Lloyd Bochner, Norman Fell, Terry Carter. A partner poses as McCloud’s lover to help him infiltrate a car-theft ring. Strong entry in NBC’s McCloud series, which formed part of the Mystery Movie wheel. Veteran Arnold directs with added vigour – notably during the climax involving a hair-raising helicopter stunt. Weaver is excellent, as ever, with his laconic charm and Cannon is a great foil as his world-weary superior. Weaver was actually dangling from the helicopter skid as it left the top of the 20-storey building, having missed the cue to be replaced by a stuntman. [PG]