Out of the whole series of Airport movies, there’s only one that made the cut for MonsterVision's 100% Weird on TNT. This 1977 entry was next to last in the series, and they were looking for ways to jazz up the script. Remember the Bermuda Triangle? It was big in the 1970s, thanks in part to a bunch of pseudo-documentaries by Sun Classic International (known as American International back when Roger Corman and William Castle were making movies for them).
In this one, rich guy Jimmy Stewart is throwing a party for art lovers on his Boeing airliner when it’s hijacked in the Bermuda Triangle. The bad guys sink the plane in the shallow Sargasso Sea and it sits there, a few hundred feet underwater, while ransom demands are sent. Makes you wonder how metal skin thinner than the gap between Dave Letterman’s teeth keeps from collapsing into an aluminum pancake but nevermind, it’s more fun watching the cast chew the scenery or make cameos:
Lee Grant, Brenda Vaccaro of “Supergirl,” Joseph Cotton, Olivia de Havilland, Darren McGavin of Kolchak fame, Christopher Lee, Robert Foxworth, Robert Hooks, Monte Markham, Kathleen Quinland, Gil Gerard of “Buck Rogers,” Pamela Bellwood, Arlene Golonka, M. Emmet Walsh, and Chris Lemmon, with a cameo by his dad Jack.
Jack Lemmon “brings conviction to his role as the dedicated pilot.” The movie version that ran in theaters was 113 minutes, though the commercial tv-version has additional footage so it would fill a 3-hour timeslot.
Two years later, Airport '79: The Concorde nailed the coffin shut on the series (Robert Wagner remembers a scene in that one where a missle following the Concorde is shot down by aiming a handgun out the window). Of “The Concorde,” Leonard Maltin says, “Thank goodness Charo is around for credibility!” A year later, Airplane! came out, spoofing the whole “Airport” series.
Airport ‘77 (1977), rated PG
Last seen on TNT 100% Weird after MonsterVision on 9-18-99
More recently seen on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) following “Airport” (1970), in which a mad bomber plots to get onto an airliner and blow it up. Van Heflin plays the nervous guy, while George Kennedy stars in all the Airport movies as a guy who knows as much about 747s as Scotty does about starships. Dean Martin of Matt Helm movies fame plays the pilot in that one. Not to be confused with that other favorite, Julie, in which Doris Day plays a stewardess who has to land the plane when her deranged ex takes out the crew.
None of the Airport movies are available for sale on video or DVD at this time, though both of the Airplane! movies are available on video and on DVD
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"The story of the wrong guy - in the wrong place - at the wrong time"
Seen on an actual hospital chart:
"The patient was in good health until his airplane ran out of gas and crashed."