Universal assembled an all-star cast for this film version of Arthur Hailey’s best-selling novel “Airport”, and the result was a critical and box-office smash that earned 10 Oscar nominations. The film is at its basics pure soap-opera built around the impending bomb on a 707 bound for Rome. The workings of a major international airport are well depicted and the cast provides some great performances. Burt Lancaster, Jacqueline Bisset, Jean Seberg, Maureen Stapleton, Dean Martin, and Van Heflin all turn in some of the best performances of their careers, and Helen Hayes (who won an Oscar for supporting actress) is endearing as the stowaway, who has worked out quite a system for flying for free. “Airport”‘s success signaled the beginning of the disaster movie era that was followed over the next several years by such films as “The Poseidon Adventure”, “The Towering Inferno”, “Earthquake”, “Two Minute Warning”, and “Rollercoaster”. “Airport” also inspired three sequels, although none of them even approached the original.
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Airport, This precursor to later “epic” 1970s disaster films presents 12 hours in the lives of the personnel and passengers at the “Lincoln Airport.” Endless problems, professional and personal, are thrown at the various personnel responsible for the safe and proper administration of air traffic, airline management, and aviation at a major US airport. Take one severe snowstorm, add multiple schedules gone awry; one elderly Trans Global Airlines stowaway; shortages; an aging, meretricious pilot; unreasonable, peevish spouses; manpower issues, fuel problems, frozen runways; and equipment malfunctions, and you get just a sample of the obstacles faced by weary, disgruntled personnel and passengers at the Lincoln Airport. Toss in one long-suffering pilot’s wife, several stubborn men, office politics and romance, and one passenger with a bomb, and you have the film from 1970.
Hollywood’s first big-budget as film…and still the best