Look who’s flying the plane, as Joe Patroni’s career takes him – and his “humour” – to supersonic heights…
A ruthless arms dealer plans his journalist mistress’s murder – after she discovers he’s not as nice as he seems – in a flight with an all-star cast.
The Concorde … Airport ’79 Official Trailer #1 – George Kennedy Movie (1979) HD, Movieclips Classic Trailers
When I was asked what film I’ve watched umpteen times, my mind went automatically to those two much-reviewed films with Christopher Plummer. I’m sure many of you are now poised for my ramblings albeit in a different slant on the much reviewed International Velvet (1978) or Somewhere in Time (1980). But I’m not going to journey there but to the Airport films. Avid readers will know this is my favourite film franchise, where there’s no need to go on a tangent, as up until now only the final one hasn’t been reviewed.
And so today it’s the turn of The Concorde… Airport 1979 (1979) – or as it was released for we Europeans the following year, Airport ’80: The Concorde (1980) – to get the Realweegiemidget treatment. So read on for this post about this the last of the airborne
soap disaster movies… and if you don’t know what I am gittering about – or want a refresher – check out my posts on the other three here, Airport (1970), Airport 75 (1974) and Airport 77 (1977).
This film’s only cast member in common with those other films is the inclusion of everyone’s favourite, with a new job in every movie in this franchise, Joe Patroni
sing (George Kennedy) who is now FLYING the plane. Kennedy shows his versatility as an actor as the drama unfolds around Patroni.
Patroni flies the plane, puts it on automatic pilot to shout health and safety instructions at the passengers, reassures damsels in distress, gives character assassinations on the passengers and is your resident – albeit the late 1970s / early 1980s sexist – comedian for the flight.
And now in a revelatory script and character development, Patroni is an ex-Nam pilot who says he’s been flying for over 25 years. This fact has never been mentioned in the rest of this franchise but is weirdly just relevant now. And in a pointless detail, he flew in Nam with the owner of this plane, Eli Sands.. played by Eddie Albert.
or us, Patroni is now a widow. Halfway through the film Patroni gets a new love interest of sorts in a scene you may want permanently erased from your memory. But yay, his irritating young son, Joe Patroni Jnr – seen in the 1974 movie – is now at college after only 5 years. This annoying child looked about 7 or 8 when we last saw him and was on par with irritating Emile from The Wild Geese (1978) and is now thankfully off-screen.
Anyway, onto the plot where this soapy drama unfolds both in the sky and on land… the land scenes are seen, only for those loved up and sexually implied moments. As apparently, Air France who loaned the plane for the film requested the crew of this fictional film to be professional at all times as read HERE. So obviously Patroni’s sexist “jokes” went over their head, but more on that later.
After the Concorde brand inspired credits – with creative inspired crimson coloured and a similar font to that on the plane – the accompanying opening footage is like an in film advertisement for Concorde. So we see the plane
model from various angles, and this is accompanied by majestic and dramatic music. The all-star cast is displayed as an alphabetical guest star list. This I found quite amusing as listing those “guest stars” gave it a TV pilot (no pun intended) kind of ambience before it even started. Like its predecessors, you’ll recognise more than a few acting names.
Then we see the Concorde flying along with two familiar faces in the cockpit, Alain Delon as French, Capt. Paul Metrand in a pilot’s uniform, which is as sexy as it sounds – and David Warner as Peter O’Neill, the second officer and flight engineer. This is just as sexy if tall and rakey Englishmen with lovely accents float your boat. Then Metrand asks the crew for a coffee and the air hostess,
Emmanuelle Isabelle (Sylvia Kristel) obliges and boy can you feel the friction between them.
Metrand wants this coffee black and you can just tell he and Isabelle have a history, and probably a sexual one. Turns out this plane will be heading to the Olympics in Moscow via Paris the next day with the owner of the air company Eli and his fourth wife Amy (Sybil Danning) and some Russian coaches and athletes.
Then zut alors! there is a hot air balloon in front of the plane. I mentally hear Herve Villechaize as Tattoo shouting “Da plane Boss, da plane” in his wee French-accented voice and then ringing a bell. Cut to
Ricardo Montelban Metrand, as this 70s manly man masterfully avoids the hot air balloon. This plot is all regurgitated again as we cut to a newsroom. Then a pretty blonde journalist, Maggie Whelan (Susan Blakely) gives another in film commercial for Concorde and she also hints heavily at the main points of the plot. Seems these hot air balloonists were environmentalists and making a protest.
And in other news, she tells us that Harrison Industries have created a highly successful drone weapon for the American army. This drone is instinctive and can travel undetected at supersonic speeds and is efficient at killing the enemy. And the head honcho of this company,
Jonathan Hart Kevin Harrison (Robert Wagner) is up for an award as the Man of the Year and he is married and has a wife and three kids.
Meanwhile her journalist pal, Robert Palmer (John Davidson) – I kid you not – is like the 80s singer “addicted to love” as he makes advances – apparently on live TV – to the 24-year-old Russian gymnast, Alicia Rogov (Andrea Marcovicci). This is as she bathes (seemingly nude) in a huge jacuzzi. The age of this gymnast character is “justified” HERE with this film quote;
“I want to show the whole world that you don’t need to be 15 and have the figure of a boy to win a gold medal.”
There’s more implied innuendo between them than your average Carry on film, and this 24 year old pushes him under the water and then she gets an earful from her coach. Palmer reappears from the water after the coach leaves, and he is also apparently naked.
Meanwhile, Patroni (Kennedy) flies in by private plane, to fly the Concorde. Metrand chats up Isabelle, and they both have très sexy French accents. Metrand is wearing a chunky jumper… sigh and is très, très, très sexy. Cue unsexy accompanying lounge music and she’s très emphatique that he won’t hurt her again…
Carl Parker (Macon McCalman), a Harrison Industries employee visits Maggie’s home to tell her about some incriminating papers. These papers show Harrison worked with some dodgy countries and terrorists. Carl tells her his wife will deliver the papers to her before she catches the Concorde flight the next day. Then an assassin appears out of nowhere – was it Mr Benn (1971-2005)? – and shoots Carl.
Cue a chase scene through the house and the plucky journalist avoids death narrowly after escaping to her rooftop garden. Then she is found hiding outside, holding onto a pane of her rooftop greenhouse. This man follows her onto the roof – instead of just shooting her – and she is saved by an alarm set off on the street after they are seen by a random passer-by.
Then Isabelle and Metrand are interrupted in possibly a romantic moment after Patroni knocks on their hotel room door. Paul answers and Patroni says he’s looking forward to flying with him. Patroni – the old dog – comments cryptically that he’s heard about him.. as a pilot? lover?? son?? (we never know). Then Patroni suggests that he knows Metrand has a girl in his room as he makes a wee smart alec comment about smelling some perfume…
The next day Maggie meets her boyfriend and tells him about Harrison, and she tells him everything… and her boyfriend is KEVIN HARRISON. And
this fool she loves him, but his soulless eyes and Wagner’s cold script delivery indicate Harrison now wants her dead. And she is so blissfully in love she doesn’t notice. Harrison claims to her that he’s being framed and he is secretly reassured she hasn’t got the papers.
After Maggie toddles off, Harrison meets with another employee and tells him everything and then asks if it is possible to reprogram the drone. As if Maggie gets the papers it “will destroy everything we’ve worked for” (muahahaha)… Then just before her flight, Carl’s wife appears and gives Maggie the papers… and this is witnessed by Harrison. As Harrison came to see her off on her plane, instead of hiring another assassin to shoot her.
Maggie takes the papers and catches the bus to her flight as Carl’s wife then calls Harrison a killer. Then we see Kevin watch Maggie read the incriminating papers as an ominous shadow appears over the airport gate highlighting Harrison in a great tracking shot…
This event leads to cat and mouse scenes throughout the world as Harrison tries to stall for time- He even tries to sabotage Maggie’s plans to reveal all about his illegal doings on live television. This as she learns he’s not the man she thought he was… but she still loves him. Cue lots of scenes with gnashing of teeth from Harrison, and a morally confused Maggie…
And long story short, there are other less riveting storylines. These include a singer, Charo with a stowaway seeing (chihuahua) dog, who says he was shocked it isn’t a much bigger dog as she clutches said wee dog in her cleavage. She then stomps ofF the plane and then I assume booked The Love Boat instead (where she got to sing the theme tune).
There are also a sax player and a singer who was born in Moscow but is as American as Fran Drescher, a woman with a pee problem, dramatic music, turbulence, O’Neill’s breaking of his strict diet with no food poisoning repercussions, and even more, dramatic music and a shed load more flight problems on the apparently doomed connecting flight…
Not forgetting other calamities in both these flights including a mother and her child’s doctor transporting a heart for a 7-year-old child’s heart transplant (stored in a cupboard), missiles, upside-down cockpit scenes, endearing scenes with a Soviet Union coach – who looks like the Harry Enfield parody of Terry from Brookside (1982-2003) – and Irina, his wee deaf daughter, flares set off in the cockpit, the Alps and more awful character exposition from Patroni on the passengers with his expose on his Nam friend Eli and his wife, Amy described HERE in the script as;
She’s his fourth wife. He always was a horny bastard. There’s this story that back in the 20’s when he was barnstorming he made a bet that he could put it to this good lookin’ wing walker. He boffed her right out on the wing a thousand miles above El Paso. His ass got so sunburned he couldn’t sit down a week!
And la piece de resistance… after Metrand proves that he has either the right connections or money to burn as he pays 40,000 francs (38,233.52 in today’s money) to an empathetic – and obviously hard up – prostitute to “service” Patroni for a night of debauchery. So Patroni gets a happy ending, and we get post-coital scenes.
As for Patroni’s “joke”, this comes after Isabelle sexily (as this is how Kristel talks throughout the film to both crew and passengers) comments to those manly men in charge of the flight HERE,
Isabelle: You pilots are such… men.
Capt. Joe Patroni: They don’t call it the cockpit for nothing, honey.
Oh, how we laughed. Prick.
This fourth film really goes with a bang and is an explosive ending to the series… As much as I wish it had continued with more films and more guest stars and sexy pilots (and here I refer to M. Delon), it’s hard to tell to what depths it would go next.
Perhaps with a Brat Pack twist, in an aircraft collision with all the characters from St Elmos’ Fire (1985). This would be in the sequel everyone wanted and but never got with Rob Lowe’s Billy, here as a co-pilot as he reunites with those Uni friends one more time. But it’s just a shame really, that this flight of fantasy was never ignited…
Weeper Rating: 😦 😦 /10
Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 /10
New Rating! Eye Candy Rating: (check out definition HERE): 😍 😍 😍 😍 😍 😍/10 from me (for Alain Delon)
The Umpteenth Blogathon 2022, No 1
This film review was added to CineMaven’s ESSAYS from the COUCH’s The Umpteenth Blogathon. Other reviews here include Andrea Marcovicci stars in Thriller and The Hand. Charo in The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. David Warner in Hart to Hart, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, The Man with Two Brains, London Comic Con and The Omen. He is remembered HERE in a number of his roles. Eddie Albert in The Heartbreak Kid, Murder She Wrote, Hotel, The Love Boat, The Fall Guy and Dreamscape. George Kennedy in this tribute HERE, Dallas, Airport, Airport 75 and Airport 77. John Davidson in The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. Martha Raye in McMillan and Wife. Mercedes McCambridge in Magnum PI and Charlie’s Angels. Monica Lewis in Earthquake and Airport 77. Robert Wagner in The Towering Inferno, Madame Sin and Hart to Hart. Susan Blakely in The Towering Inferno and Hotel. Sybil Danning in Meteor.