Monday, February 18, 2019

Movie Review: "Airport" (1970)

Director: George Seaton
Year: 1970
Rating: G
Running Time: 2 hours, 17 minutes

The general manager of Chicago's Lincoln International Airport has a lot to deal with, including a massive winter storm, a stalled out jumbo jet blocking a runway, an ornery old stowaway, a depressed suicide bomber, as well as personal issues plaguing his day.

Airport 1970 movie Helen Hayes Van Heflin
"I don't think it'd be very good public relations for a big airline to prosecute a little old lady just because she wanted to visit her daughter." (Image Source)
If "Airport" is an accurate representation of the daily life of an airport general manager, well, we're glad we don't fly because the main character in this movie sure seems distracted by all of the hullabaloo going on in his life. This film is an adaptation of a novel by Arthur Hailey, and is written for the screen and directed by George Seaton, who is known for writing and directing movies like "Miracle on 34th Street," "The Country Girl," and "Apartment for Peggy." The story revolves around the happenings at Chicago's Lincoln International Airport and mainly focuses on general manager Mel Bakersfeld (Burt Lancaster), who is having a rough day at the office. Chicago has been hit by a big winter storm, and now, a plane has gotten stuck in the snow and is blocking the primary runway. To top off Mel's problems, a crotchety, ornery elderly woman keeps trying to stow away on various flights, a suicide bomber has boarded one of the planes that will be leaving his airport, and worst of all, his wife at home keeps nagging him about a dinner he will miss because he has to stay at work. Oh, and one more thing. Mel also wants a divorce so he can be with his much younger widowed co-worker. Oh wait, wait, one more issue. He keeps butting heads with his brother-in-law Capt. Vernon Demerest (Dean Martin), who also is having an affair with a younger woman and is about to get a surprise he didn't expect. What's a boy to do?!
Airport 1970 movie Dean Martin Jacqueline Bisset
"What else could go wrong?" (Image Source)
The disaster movie genre has become quite a spectacle over the last few decades. It is a genre full of high stakes tension and excitement......usually. "Airport" is commonly referred to as the first big-budget disaster flick, and it's an entirely different kind of disaster flick because it only succeeds in boring audiences to death. The film, which clocks in at 143 minutes long, drags along at a snail's pace and is loaded with situations and characters that are wholly unnecessary. There is an entire subplot about a group of nearby residents complaining about the noise caused by the airport, which doesn't need to be in the movie at all. Hey, here's a thought that might shock you: if you don't like the noise caused by an airport, maybe, just maybe, don't buy a house right next to a goddamn airport!! This is not the only plot point with which we take umbrage. Many others could have easily hit the cutting room floor, and it would have vastly improved the movie's pacing. Do we really need not one but two storylines about two husbands who hate their wives and are looking to leave them for younger women? It seems excessive. The only real excitement comes from the storyline about a depressed man named D.O. Guerrero (Van Heflin) who wants to blow up an airplane so his wife can cash in on an insurance policy since they are broke. Even then, the thrill factor only lasts for a few minutes. Beyond that, the only other good thing about "Airport" is the performance of Helen Hayes, who offers up some much needed comedic relief without which would have left this project dead on arrival.
Airport 1970 movie
"This plane is built to withstand anything except a bad pilot." (Image Source)
We understand that we can't go back and watch "Airport" the way it was meant to be experienced since we don't have a time machine to erase the dozens of disaster movies that have been sprung from the ashes of this single film. Still, we have no idea how people thought this was titillating stuff back in 1970. We sat watching this slog with the constant desire to check the time to see when it would finally end. How it got nominated for 10 Academy Awards will forever remain a mystery to us. It's a product of its time that is better left in the '70s. If we had to pick between this and some cheesy modern disaster flick, we would take a stupid, mindless spectacle like "Geostorm" over this bore any day of the week. Yeah, we said it. DUTCHBOIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!

My Rating: 4/10
BigJ's Rating: 4/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.6/10
RT Rating: 80%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

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