Film Review: Airport ’79

Perhaps I should be reviewing the other three Airport films first, but having watched all four in the space of a week, Airport 79 The Concorde is by far the most outrageously silly and blatantly stupid of the four and so therefore wins the “must be reviewed first” award. Air disasters have never had it so bad (or good, if you’re like me) from heat seeking missiles to loop the loops, this is possibly one of the laughable disaster movies in the 70’s era and I love it!

The Premise

Susan Blakely (rescued from that burning building) is now lovers with Robert Wagner (who now must have the worst survival rate of any disaster film star to date – has he actually lived to tell the tale in ANY of them?!) however when Wagner’s dodgy dealers are exposed, he decides to blow up his lovers Concorde being flown by our loveable George Kennedy. Cue one lines and antics stage left.

The Disasters Faced

A plane, a crazy American pilot, a floor with more holes in that a slice of swiss cheese, a menacing toilet, errant missiles, an open door *gasp* and the spa of death! If they don’t get you, the STD’s from the hookers will!

The Execution

First things first, this film screams budget! It also screams two hour advertisement for Concorde. Everyone stares lovingly at it and its gravity defying moves and stunts can’t even be performed in a real stunt plane probably.

The other big problem is the dire script and bizarre pacing. George Kennedy is reduced to saying things like “That’s why they call it the cockpit baby”, sleeping with hookers set up by his slutty captain and the laughable “that will be enough to ruin his whole day” as a fighter jet crashes into the ocean in flames. However one liner award goes to one poor man who dangling out the plane in his seat is rescued screaming “I’ve got the best seat in the house!” As a result, with that combined with the 360 spins, the upside down flying and the winding down of windows (?!?!?!) to fire flare guns – I really did wonder if this was not a precursor for the Airplane movies instead! The pacing is strange. It takes 37 minutes before the plane takes off for the first time, during which we watch poor Susan Blakely hang from her green house and present an entire news reel (not at the same time sadly), various attempts of comedy from various actors who are of such higher calibur than this film. Monica Lewis, having escaped Earthquake is now a swinging jazz singer with a drugged up sax player. God its just awful, you can almost feel her cringe with every line she’s given. That’s what makes it so watchable, for all the very wrong reasons!

The Effects

The film suffers heavily for trying to use superimposed explosions and special effects which never work. The films that survive the test of time far better are the ones that actually use real fire or live footage. As a result, the effects range so greatly from sheer awful to documentary footage.

Why It’s Worth Watching

To see what completely stupid predicament they’ll be in next and how these poor actors and actresses are mildly amused at what they have to do in the film. This is one of the best examples of how to make a disaster movie completely awful yet still be compulsive viewing!

Favourite Character

Joe Patroni wins again, as the series mainstay, he finally gets top billing after mysteriously turning into a pilot in the last two years! Kennedy deserved a lot of respect for sticking it out!

Best Death

Only one character definitely dies and can you guess who it is? Yep, Wagner continues his death spree, adding up to four with The Swarm, Tower Inferno and Titanic and probably some other films I’ve yet to see. Not going well is it!

Weirdest Moment

Apart from the impromptu concert boogie in the plane and “I sleep with my saxophone … oh and the everyone laugh at me, I slept with a hooker, possibly the weirdest moment is the “comic genius” of the lady who spends the entire film in the bathroom getting battered around to shreds. When the plane lands she stumbles out roughed up a limpidly cries “The bathrooms broken”

Conclusion

Airport ’79 is helerious. It knows it can’t compete with its bigger brothers but in trying to cover up for that, makes itself so awfully out of its depth in trying, its compulsive viewing to see just how outrageously unreal the next situation could possibly be. Should be billed as a comedy!

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2 Comments on “Film Review: Airport ’79”

  1. Nancy Wiess April 22, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

    I have a question. What was the real name of the blind piano player?

    • Higher Plain Music April 26, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

      His names Tom Sullivan but its from Airport 77 not 79 🙂 Most of his roles cut out the theatrical release but in the three hour version, his story is much more fleshed out

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