Thursday, March 12, 2015

Old Movie Review - "Airport" (1970)

Last night we watched, don't ask me what made me DVR this one, the 1970 movie "Airport", which was a big blockbuster movie that was based on Arthur Hailey blockbuster novel from the late 1960's.  This movie had a huge cast of stars - Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, George Kennedy, Helen Hayes (who won an Oscar for this one), Jean Seberg, Jacqueline Bisset, Maureen Stapleton and on and on.   I think that I saw this when it was released, but I have not seen it since, and man, am I glad I watched.  It was so wonderfully cliched and cheesy, that you just have to love this movie.  And it was played straight by such terrific actors like Lancaster, Martin, and Kennedy.  I wonder what they were thinking when they were making this one.

There was so much overwrought dialog that I don't even know where to begin, but I will just give you one sample.  This is a scene involving Kennedy as the ace airport maintenance guy, Joe Patroni,  as he attempts to get a stuck-in-the-snow airplane off of a runway in order that the crippled incoming jet piloted by Martin can land, and thus save the lives of all on board (hey, I told you it was cliched):

Mel Bakersfeld: Joe, this is Mel. There's no more time. Stop all engines and get out. Repeat. Stop all engines. 
Cockpit qualified young man: Mr. Patroni, she won't take much more. 
Joe Patroni: Well anyway, she's gonna get it. 
Mel Bakersfeld: Joe, the plows are moving. Shut down and hold on! Joe Patroni! Do you read me? Acknowledge! 
Mel Bakersfeld: Joe! Shut down! 
Cockpit qualified young man: Mr. Patroni? Don't you hear him? Shut down. 
Joe Patroni: I can't hear a thing. There's too much noise. Hold on. We're GOIN FOR BROKE! 
Cockpit qualified young man: [after the plane gets out of the ditch] The instruction book said that was impossible. 
Joe Patroni: That's one nice thing about the 707. It can do everything BUT read. 
[throws his chewed and soggy cigar over his shoulder]

Really now, does it get any better than that?  I don't think so.

"Airport" was obviously a huge success, because it went on to spawn not one, not two, but THREE sequels.  I don't believe I saw any of them, but I just may have to search them out.

One thing that seeing "Airport" does is that it reinforces the sheer brilliance of this 1980 movie...

...which satirized "Airport" and played it for laughs with such brilliant performances from Robert Hays, Julie Haggerty, Leslie Nielsen, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Peter Graves, and especially Lloyd Bridges.  I just may have to pull that one out and watch it today.


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