The Concorde…Airport ’79

THE CONCORDE…AIRPORT ’79 cancelled future bookings for the ‘Airport’ franchise when this 4th entry in the series inspired by Arthur Hailey’s novel and the 1970 blockbuster flick landed with a thud, clobbered by critical brickbats and the lowest attendance of the quartet. The $14,000,000 spent on it didn’t show in the cheesy special effects or terrible script. A US gross of just $13,000,000 placed 57th in ’79, (tag one for the jet-lagged home team) though international bookings pushed it aloft to $65,000,000.

This is when George Kennedy, flying a jet at hundreds of miles per hour, shoots a flare out the window to distract a heat-seeking missile.

When his reporter girlfriend (Susan Blakely) learns that his company sold arms to hostile powers, the cornered CEO (Robert Wagner) makes three different attempts to silence her. They involve bringing down the luxury Concorde airliner on which she’s a passenger. Only the skills of the pilots dodge the drones and missiles of the first attacks, but will a hidden device make the third attempt succeed? You’ll hope so, long before the 113 minutes skid to an abrupt and ridiculous conclusion.

The hoots start with the cast scroll when you see that the lineup of guest-star passengers include John Davidson (with hair helmet), Jimmie Walker (toking up), Martha Raye (her last movie) and Charo (who hides a pooch in her boa). The pilots are Alain Delon (looking bored to be paid) and George Kennedy (again as ‘Joe Patroni’), the lead stewardess is Sylvia Kristel (of ‘Emmanuelle’ fame), with slots reserved for Eddie Albert (who gets gorgeous Sybil Danning for his squeeze), Cicely Tyson (her kid needs a heart transplant, said ticker’s on the plane with her), and a Russian Olympic team—represented by Andrea Marcovicci, Avery Schreiber (!) and Mercedes McCambridge (!!) Subsidiary roles, all poorly conceived, are bravely inhabited by David Warner, Bibi Andersson and Monica Lewis. Fans of the classic 60’s TV series Combat will smile spotting ‘Caje’ (Pierre Jalbert) in the mob. Ed Begley Jr. is in there for a few seconds.

David Lowell Rich directed (badly), Eric Roth wrote the awful script (not his finest hour). A real waste of Blakely. You do get to twinge uncomfortably when Wagner says “I’ve done a lot of things I’m ashamed of, but I’m not a murderer!”

When later shown on TV, added footage padded it out to fit a three-hour slot: it would be less painful to spend three days in a life raft. Finally, irony dealt further punishment: not enough that this De Gaulle-schnozzed jalopy crashed and burned the series, the very plane used in the film would be destroyed on July 25, 2000, killing 114 people.



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