Airport ’77

AIRPORT ’77 is somewhat better than Airport 1975. Neither are as good as 1970’s Airport, but any of the three beat The Concorde…Airport ’79, the tail end of the squadron that made up a wing of the 70’s fleet of disasterpieces. This one adds The Bermuda Triangle to the manifest.

Art thieves hijack a luxury Boeing 747-100, carrying a load of masterpieces and a select lot of characters with issues, played by actors with bills to pay. When the heist goes awry, the jet belly flops into a shallow section of The Bermuda Triangle, settling to the bottom with numerous casualties, limited air supply and some doom-portending leaks. Can a salvage operation be mounted in time? Will several of the co-stars perish, including the nasty bitch who tries to open the hatch and gets socked by the head stew?

Calculated Written by Michael Scheff and David Spector, the $6,000,000 113-minute escapism was directed by Jerry Jameson, who seemed to have, not exactly a gift, but more like a penchant, for lifting hulks: three years later he helped sink Raise The Titanic. This works as a diverting time-passer thanks to the novelty of the setup and mostly decent work from the game cast. Jack Lemmon gets a rare man-of-action role as the pilot, and he pulls it off convincingly, Brenda Vaccaro plays it straight down the line as the chief stewardess and Lee Grant looks to be having fun as the venomous dame who has something mean to say to everyone. Her cuckold husband is Christopher Lee, and this flight’s ‘prestige guest seats’ are occupied by Olivia de Havilland and Joseph Cotten. The wealthy guy who owns the plane is walked through by James Stewart, 69 in one his last roles, calling for little energy, just practiced gravitas. Back for the third time as ‘Joe Patroni’, George Kennedy has three scenes that amount to about 90 seconds of screen time.

Not as vapid as Airport ’75, the cardboard silliness of it all didn’t prevent it becoming a hit, 17th in ’77, grossing a whopping $91,000,000 internationally. Somehow it wresting unwarranted Academy Award nominations for Art Direction and Costume Design.

With Darren McGavin, Robert Foxworth, Robert Hooks, Kathleen Quinlan, Monte Markham, Monica Lewis (married to the producer, the one-time hot number jazz singer was best known as the voice of ‘Chiquita Banana’), Pamela Bellwood, M. Emmet Walsh, Arlene Golonka, James Booth, Gil Gerard (did this land him his gig as Buck Rogers in the 25th Century ?), George Furth and Chris Lemmon (Jack’s son).

 

 

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