Thursday, October 11, 2012
Airport 1975 (1974)
Airport 1975 (1974)
Despite the title, Airport 1975 actually came out in 1974. Airport 1975 is a sequel to Airport (1970) so why couldn't they just call it Airport II?
Disaster movies were extremely popular in the 1970s thanks in large part to the commercial success of the original Airport which was also nominated for 10 Oscars. Airport 1975 is the second of four films in the series, though this is the only one I've seen at the moment. Like the first Airport movie, Airport 1975 was a box office success and the sixth top grossing movie of 1974 behind a couple of other disaster movies, The Towering Inferno and Earthquake.
The basic plot of Airport 1975 is that a small plane crashes into a Boeing 747, killing and injuring the pilots. A flight attendant flies the plane with instructions from ground controllers but it is eventually decided that a real pilot must be brought in to land it.
Like most disaster movies of its time, Airport 1975 features a large ensemble cast. Pretty much everybody is in this movie such as Charlton Heston, George Kennedy, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Linda Blair, Nancy Olson, Erik Estrada, Norman Fell, Jerry Stiller, Gloria Swanson (as herself!), Myrna Loy (who has showed up in a couple of my Tales from the Archives posts), and many more.
Despite being a hit in its time, Airport 1975 is very dated with references, clothes, and politically incorrect jokes that make this a time capsule of the mid-70s. There is a lot of melodrama which at times makes it feel like a soap opera. Although this was a disaster movie, I never felt that these characters were ever in true danger. There are some scenes full of tension, like those with the flight attendant (Karen Black) being instructed on how to fly the plane, but others fall flat and can be boring. Airport 1975 is competently made with a lot of good actors but just ends up being mediocre and a product of its time.
Airport 1975 was directed by Jack Smight. Although this is the first of his movies I have seen, Smight directed four episodes of The Twilight Zone including The Lonely, a personal favorite of mine.
Airplane! (1980) would later parody disaster movies like this one. Although I already loved that comedy, I appreciate it even more after watching Airport 1975 since I got a better sense of what they were parodying. It was interested to see plot elements of this film that Airplane! would later go on to directly make fun of.