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Thursday, July 9, 2015

THE CONCORDE...AIRPORT '79 -- Movie Review by Porfle

One of the most deliriously stupid movies you could ever hope to see, THE CONCORDE... AIRPORT '79 is the end of the runway for the celebrated "Airport" series.

It all began with Arthur Hailey's classic all-star thriller AIRPORT, and continued through the stupefyingly dumb AIRPORT '75 (the one where stewardess Karen Black flies the crippled plane) and the not-so-bad but still pretty dumb AIRPORT '77 (the one where the plane is underwater). 

This time there's not one but two dicey landings, and the plane is attacked over the Atlantic Ocean first by a guided missile and then by an enemy jet fighter--before finally being sabotaged.  It's almost like a "Road Runner" cartoon but without the good production values or wit.

George Kennedy, whose "Joe Patroni" character (the only one to appear in all four films) is now inexplicably a seasoned pilot, tries to divert the missile by opening a cockpit window and firing a flare gun at it while flying at mach 2.  In another great move, he manages to fire a second flare inside the cockpit, nearly messing up navigator David Warner's hair. 

Why, you ask, is someone firing missiles at the Concorde? Because evil capitalist Robert Wagner must cover up his crimes by murdering ace reporter and former girlfriend Susan Blakely, who's on board the plane.  See?  Told you it all made perfect sense.

There's horrible comedy relief with venerable comedienne Martha Raye in an embarrassing role as a passenger with a bladder control problem.  You'll probably find yourself wishing Jimmie Walker and Charo would just get sucked out of the plane.

Charo gets feature billing for a single scene where she tries to smuggle her chihuahua on board.  ("Please don't miscon-screw me," she tells the stewardess.)  Jazz musician Walker keeps getting high in the bathroom (and tripping over Martha Raye) while fondling his saxophone and acting "stoned."  

Meanwhile, Mercedes McCambridge is elsewhere wondering how she went from James Dean to John Davidson.  Cicely Tyson looks equally perplexed as she nervously guards a human heart in an ice chest (don't ask).

Avery Schreiber is on hand to cuten things up as a doting Russian papa with an adorable daughter who's deaf and dumb.  They're always signing cute things to each other.  Too bad she didn't know the sign for "Help! I'm trapped in the world's dumbest movie."

But fear not, because there's a tender George Kennedy sex scene to make up for it, for all you George Kennedy fans who couldn't wait to see him doing some bare-shouldered spit-swapping with Bibi Andersson.

The romance continues with Alain Delon and Sylvia Kristel as a co-pilot and head stewardess trying to keep it together in more ways than one.  And as a big-time airline exec who doesn't really mind getting sucked halfway out of a hole in the plane, Eddie Albert has somehow managed to end up with Sybil Danning.   

Special effects are worse than in any of the previous films, with the Concorde sometimes resembling a dangling Hallmark ornament.  We get to see several shots of the screaming passenger-extras being rolled around in a tube-shaped mockup of the plane's interior like socks in a dryer.  Most of the model work would make Gerry Anderson sick to his stomach.

Best of all, though, is the scene where villain Robert Wagner watches a news report of the plane's progress on a TV which is nothing more than a glass-covered hole in the wall with the newscaster/actor sitting behind it! 

It looks so stupid, it's almost surreal--which might as well be THE CONCORDE...AIRPORT '79's tagline.  Thank goodness Ed Begley, Jr. makes a ten-second cameo appearance near the end to bring us back to reality.

Original trailer


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