Sunday, January 20, 2013

the concorde. . .airport '79

not with a bang but a whimper.  thus the end of the 1970s and its fascination with disaster films winds down with this last entry of the airport movies.  george kennedy is the only actor brave enough to star in all four films as captain joe patroni.  the rest of the cast, well. . .a mix of u.s. has-beens and european explotiation stalwarts.

still, if you like cheese then this pic is a moldy one for you.  the plot concerns the mistress -- girlfriend? -- of arms dealer robert wagner, who plays the baddie with such a lack of effect you'd swear he's taken hits of thorazine, who uncovers wagner's illegal arms dealings and subsequent murder of a former employee.  the woman has the incriminating documents and boards the concorde.  how does wagner stop her from going to the authorities?  by trying to shoot down the concorde!  first with his company's unmanned drone, then with a couple of fighter jets and finally with a bomb in the cargo hold.

even with such action packed plot-lines there is so much exposition, a lot of dialogue and un-character development that the movie is simply a hard slog to get thru.  such was the problem with most disaster movies that the filmmakers tried to create sympathetic characters so that when the shit goes down we'd care for them.  except that we viewers don't.  the reason disaster movies exist was for us viewers to see things blow up.

this movie is a study in bad filmmaking.  and barely enjoyable as well.  i must confess i fell asleep before it ended.  nick was the brave one.  we watched it together and he managed to stay awake.  kennedy as patroni is enjoyable to watch.  he's an under-appreciated actor.  alain delon is the concorde's co-pilot.  the script gives him barely anything to do.  sylvia kristel, who gained famed starring in just jaeckin's sexploitation film emmanuelle [1974], plays a flight attendant.  she's a beautiful woman but the decor and the dress of these characters makes everything butt-ugly. 

that's one of the big problems of the 1970s: it was an era of ugly.  even beautiful people and things were made grotesque by bushy mustaches, permed hair, wide lapels, muted earth tones, and shag carpets.  if you don't believe me seek out this film.  but when it was released we were heading to neo-romantic, post-punk 80s.  this pic was a box-office bomb.  the explosions were left off-screen as we who lived thru the '70s couldn't wait to shake off the chains of the horrible-looking '70s and its cheesy disaster films.  watching this movie is like staring into the abyss and not finding your character.  proceed at your own risk. 


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