A Flight to Remember, it’s like a soap in the skies…

 

Probably the best of the Airport movies franchise, with OTT plotlines including the Bermuda Triangle and characters including Christopher Lee as a deep-sea diver…

 

Airport ’77 Official Trailer #1 – James Stewart Movie (1977) HD, Movieclips Trailer Vault, http://www.tube.com

Personally after rewatching Airport 77 (1977), the disaster flick of the third of the Airport films franchise, here crossed with The Poseidon Adventure (1972), I felt the Abrams, Zucker and Abrams trio didn’t really need to parody these movies. As the Airport franchise increasingly parodied themselves over the subsequent years, with each plot more outlandish than the last and with an even more dream all-star cast. This one has it all , an aeroplane disaster, priceless relics on board and the Bermuda Triangle. These all add up to this guilty pleasure of a movie that I sadly would rewatch over any Superhero movie. Apart from possibly an Antman (2015) or Deadpool (2016) sequel, but then Airport 77 would more likely to be watched for the comic value, plot lines and the all-star cast.

The all-star cast includes the then big names of Hollywood – James Stewart, Olivia De Havilland (in her disaster movie years where The Swarm (1978) was added to the list the following year) and Jack Lemmon. It also has two prime time soap stars in the making for the sad eagle eyed soap fan, Pamela Bellwood (Claudia Bleisdale from Dynasty (1981-89)) and Monte Markham (who played Sue Ellen’s married lover Clint in Dallas (1978-91). Throw in plot lines including the Bermuda Triangle, an incurable illness and an illicit affair and its full tilt prime time soap. Characters include every stereotype ever from a couple of kids, and a lounger singer to a one time deep-sea diver Martin Wallace (Christopher Lee) and his drunken lush of a wife, Karen (Lee Grant). Even Airport franchise favourite George Kennedy pops in as Joe Patroni. And Buck Rogers.

Watching this with me, under duress was my Darlin’ Husband who impersonated the leads and riffed it mercilessly. So what’s the plot? In a nutshell, with the characters mentioned so far you have all the ingredients for a crime in the skies, which falls apart after the plane crashes in the sea in Bermuda Triangle. So from the beginning, the film tells of the fate of the plane owned by Philip Stevens (played by James Stewart), a millionaire who has invited his guests including estranged daughter Lisa (Bellwood) and her son to stay with him. Also aboard are some priceless paintings – echoes of Terror at 37,000 (1973) feet – and the plane is hijacked to steal these.

We meet most of the characters, Jack Lemmon the pilot, his love interest, airhostess Eve (Brenda Vaccaro), who adds to the drama telling Steven’s daughter he’s dying adding to her distress. There is Emily Livingston (De Havilland) who reunites with an old flame. And the lounge singer, also with a foreboding song as in The Towering Inferno (1974) and the Poseidon Adventure. In this luxurious plane, with a wee natty tour guide of the plane for us viewers, there is an office where Martin (Lee) tries to talk business with his adulterous, with his drunk wife (Grant) getting in the way and other object of her affections Frank Powers (Gil Gerard from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979-81)). There’s a couple of annoying kids, but then luckily for us sleeping gas puts all to sleep. Then the hijackers, who wearing primitive Bane masks attempt to land the plane to make off with the goods. An oil rig is clipped on its descent and the plane plummets into the sea…. and disappears into the murky depths of the Bermuda Triangle.

So this movie like the Towering Inferno, has a wee in-film education film for the actual operations carried  by the Navy for the later rescue scenes in such an emergency. But without instructions given by Steve McQueen. Lemmon plays a great Head Pilot, with a firm and reassuring gruff voice and additional qualifications in deep-sea diving he’s the best kinda pilot you could ask for. Christopher Lee is also great in his part, although small, the looks given to his screen wife reflect those given by us, the audience in his scenes with her. However with Grant as the stereotypical pathetic, annoying drunk wife role – much found in disaster movies – to perfection. The other roles include a paid break from a golf game as filmed at the 18th hole with James Stewart and a wee cameo by Kennedy.

The combination of these disasters of course is a bit far-fetched. As the plane falls from the sky, all the furniture in the plane moved from the poker table from the lounge players piano, trapping guests in its wake. And including the lounge singer in a unlucky twist. The mysterious curse and conspiracies relating to the Bermuda Triangle of course was played to the hilt, and this curse made even more enigmatic in a number of 1970s movies. This film could only have been improved with the lounge singer played by Barry Manilow playing the lounge singer, singing his Bermuda Triangle song as the film plummets from the sky. And with the despair of the cast, taking we the viewers onboard as we sink to the depths of despair the sea, Then with Manilow’s musical lyrical warning “Bermuda Triangle, Don’t go too near” ringing in our ears”  the plane hits the water… and “So Bermuda Triangle, Here we come!” before this particular lounge singer met his watery grave.

Weeper Rating:  😦 😦 😦 /10

Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂  🙂 🙂  🙂 🙂   /10

Hulk Rating: ‎ mrgreen ‎/10

Bonus Trailer: Yes, Fan Trailer

 

airport 77 fantrailer, Sz. Lenci, http://www.tube.com

 

The Jack Lemmon Blogathon 2017, No 12

This review was added to the Jack Lemmon Blogathon run by Critica Retro and Widescreen World.  Other reviews with this cast include Pamela Bellwood in Dynasty, Monte Markham in Dallas and Christopher Lee in Dracula AD 1972. I wrote a remembrance tribute to George Kennedy here. Olivia DeHavilland stars in The Swarm (1978).

 

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4 thoughts on “Airport 77 (1977)

  1. Confession: I like the “Airport” movies far more than I should, and I can’t explain why.

    I did see this one for the first time a few months ago, and it’s everything you said it was. The script really is a bit sad, but the acting is superb – especially Jack Lemmon.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is my favourite of the “Airport” series, if only because Lee Grant steals the show as the boozing bitch, and plays it to perfection. There are so many things to love in this one. The great Jack Lemmon takes about 30 bullets for the team here. Jimmy Stewart just oozes cool in the face of a stupid script, and the scene where M. Emmet Walsh jams booze into a panicked Lee Grant’s mouth is Oscar worthy!
    Great selection for the blogathon. It put a smile on my face reading this!

    Liked by 1 person

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