FILMS… Airport 77 (1977)

#1970s #AllPosts


A flight to remember, it’s like a soap opera in the skies…


OTT plotlines and characters include Christopher Lee as a deep-sea diver as a plane crashes into the sea at the Bermuda Triangle.


Airport ’77 Official Trailer #1 – James Stewart Movie (1977) HD, Movieclips Trailer Vault and photos © Universal Pictures


Now time for some guilty pleasure gold, from that Airport films franchise… this with Airport 77 (1977). This film was the third of those disaster flicks. It is an Airport movie crossed with The Poseidon Adventure (1972), which makes it the best of these films. Personally, after rewatching it I felt the Abrams, Zucker and Abrams trio didn’t really need to parody these movies. As it feels that the Airport franchise increasingly parodied itself 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, an all-star cast 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. Who am I kidding? You know me and yes, the 1970s made Airport 77  would more likely be watched for the comic value, plot lines and 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 to a lounge singer. The best of these characters is (for plot convenience) a one-time deep-sea diver. This is in the priceless on-screen double act of 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 so does Buck Rogers.

Watching this with me, under duress was my Darlin Husband. He impersonated the leads and riffed them 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. This plan falls apart after the plane crashes into the sea in the Bermuda Triangle. Then the film is The Poseidon Adventure all the way…

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 here – and the plane is hijacked to steal these.

We meet most of the characters, Jack Lemmon the pilot, his love interest, and air hostess Eve (Brenda Vaccaro). Eve adds to the drama by telling Steven’s daughter he’s dying, adding to her distress. There is Emily Livingston (De Havilland) who reunites with an old flame (Joseph Cotten) and is a bit of a card shark. The blind lounge singer also sings a foreboding song in the style of The Towering Inferno (1974) and The Poseidon Adventure.

In this luxurious plane -with an in-film wee natty tour guide of the plane for us viewers – there is an office. This room is commanded by Martin (Lee). Here he tries to talk business but his adulterous, drunk wife (Grant) gets in the way of business. He works with another object of her affection Frank Powers (Gil Gerard from the TV series and movie that was Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979)). This love triangle is set within the Bermuda Triangle, should have made more movies together.  But only with this cast.

There are a couple of annoying kids, but then luckily for us sleeping gas through the vents, puts everyone to sleep. Then the hijackers – who are 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 instead…. and then 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 out by the Navy. These are seen in later rescue scenes showing what would happen in such an emergency. But sadly without instructions or narration as 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 and contempt given to his screen wife reflect those given by us, the audience in his scenes with her. And no one can emote contempt like Christopher Lee… Lee Grant is 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 (not as Joe Patroni).

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 to the lounge player’s piano, trapping guests in its wake. And including the lounge singer in an unlucky twist. You’d think these would be secured down, so this wouldn’t happen…

The mysterious curse and conspiracies relating to the Bermuda Triangle, of course, were added to this plot. This curse was 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.

Add that to the despair of the cast, taking us the viewers onboard as we sink to the depths of despair the sea, Then as Manilow’s musical lyrical warning “Bermuda Triangle, Don’t go too near” ringing in our ears”  as the plane hits the water. Then “So Bermuda Triangle, Here we come!” just before this particular lounge singer met his watery grave.


Weeper Rating:  😦 😦 😦 /10

Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂  🙂 🙂  🙂 🙂   /10

Hulk Rating: ‎ mrgreen ‎/10


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 stars in Dallas and Christopher Lee stars in this guest post of The Man with the Golden Gun, The Devil Rides Out and Dracula AD 1972. I wrote a remembrance tribute to George Kennedy here. Olivia DeHavilland and Joseph Cotten star in The Screaming Woman and The Love Boat. She also stars in The Swarm. Jack Lemmon stars in The Apartment. Lee Grant also stars in Voyage of the DamnedOmen II and in Buona Sera Mrs Campbell. She also features in her blogathon starting HERE. Brenda Vaccaro stars in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood and Water.




10 thoughts on “FILMS… Airport 77 (1977)

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. “However with Grant as the stereotypical pathetic, annoying drunk wife role – much found in disaster movies – to perfection. ”

    It’s like she’s the antithesis of Ava Gardner in “Earthquake” because I spend that whole movie wanting a building to fall on her.

    Liked by 1 person

Love you to leave your thoughts on this content... No personal attacks and / or no spoilers please... Offenders may be blocked.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.