"There's no one left to fly the plane!"
Ok, so I've been on an "Airport" binge. I started by watching "Airport '75" and liked it so much I quickly went on to "Airport '77", and then the original "Airport". I have yet to see "Airport: Concorde", but now that I know JJ "Dino-mite" Walker is in it, it's next on the list. My favorite of all of them is definitely "Airport 75". This one gives you all the Hollywood star-power, and thrilling action you could ask for. Throw in a great 70's movie score and a performance by Helen Reddy as a singing nun, and you've got a completely entertaining experience!
These movies are like the Towering Inferno and Poseidon Adventure in that you see old, glamorous Hollywood stars mingling with the young and the hip 1970's celebrities. In "'75" you've got Myrna Loy (from the incomparable "Thin Man" series of the 1930's) and freaking GLORIA SWANSON fer chrissake, playing HERSELF, as well as Karen Black the ultimately spunky stewardess who gets to fly the plane (and who wears the cutest polyester stewardess outfits), and Eric Estrada ("Chips") who is hilariously "Hispanic" and an ass-grabbing pilot. Even little Linda Blair is onboard as the sick child passenger.
One of my favorite older actors, Dana Andrews, who gave a touching performance as a World War II vet in the great movie"Best Years of Our Lives" plays the unfortunate pilot of a small plane who has a heart attack and collides with the 747 jet. Poor Dana Andrews is history.
Airport 77 is another bizarre mix of old and new stars. Jack Lemmon of all people, one of the best comedic actors of our age, plays the heroic pilot. In a moustache! Brenda Vaccaro, hottie-stewardess in a green turtleneck is his love interest, and then there is Joseph Cotten, of the classic noir"The Third Man", one of the greatest movies of all time, as an elderly passenger. Joseph *%# Cotten! What a shock! I've never seen him old, before. He was always this dangerous younger man in Hitchcock films.
In this movie there is another in-flight performance by a truly awful blind singer, complete with big black shades and singing "If you close your eyes, maybe you can see the beauty in me".I couldn't. And his character didn't make it. The tragedy in "77" is that first the plane is hijacked, then it flies into the BERMUDA TRIANGLE (remember that? Whatever happened to the Bermuda Triangle?) and then it crashes and becomes submerged. That sounds like a lot of action, but surprisingly it's a bit slow, so unless you really like watching Jack Lemmon in a moustache (which I do), it's not the best choice.
"Airport" isn't that good, frankly, even though Dean Martin is in it and it was nominated for several Oscars, including Best Picture. Helen Hayes actually won a best-supporting actress award for her role as the little-old-lady-stowaway. The corniest roll ever, it must have been a slow year at the movies. Fortunately, all four movies star George Kennedy as Joe Patroni ("They don't call them 'emergencies' anymore, they call 'em 'Patronis'!")
So do yourself a favor and rent "Airport '75". You'll spot some other stars who are still working today....I won't ruin all of the surprises. If you feel like splurging, or if you get really drunk and are shopping online, you can pick up the "Airport Terminal Pack", all four movies on dvd.