Enjoy three classic films for the price of one! This month’s Aero Triple Bill is three “Airport” disaster movies.
“Airport” features an all-star cast including the eternally yummy Burt Lancaster as a manager in a fictional Chicago airport who tries to keep the terminals open during a snowstorm while a suicidal bomber, Van Heflin (“Shane”) plots to blow up a Boeing 747. Perpetual gamine Jean Seberg is Lancaster’s lover/secretary and Dean Martin is perfectly cast as the playboy pilot having a hot and heavy romance with the outrageously beautiful stewardess Jacqueline Bissett. But it is veteran actress Helen Hayes (in an Oscar winning performance for Best Supporting Actress) who steals the film as an adorable little old lady stowaway on the ill-fated plane. Not just some schlock catastrophe film, “Airport” is a first class suspense thriller with an impressive roster of talent that’s sure to entertain an audience as much as any CGI-laden bang-em-up film coming out of Hollywood today.
In fact it was the tremendous success of the first “Airport” movie in 1970 that paved the way for a series of subsequent films throughout the decade. “Airport ‘75” followed up with another all-star cast featuring manly man Charlton Heston, the ageless Dana Andrews, silent screen star Gloria Swanson, immortal comic Sid Caesar and Myrna Loy (“The Thin Man”)! This time, a 747 is rendered helpless without a capable pilot after crashing into a smaller plane, so the control tower needs to figure out how to physically get someone from the ground aboard who can fly the jet. The stunts and special effects are pretty exciting, even by today’s standards.
In “Airport ’77”, the third entry in the series, the always-likable Jack Lemmon pilots a corporate jet that crashes into the water when an incompetent hijacker rams it into an offshore oilrig. Once again the cast is full of top notch actors such as the legendary Olivia de Havilland and Joseph Cotten, bad girl Lee Grant, eerily distinctive Christopher Lee, and the one and only constant for every Airport movie ever made: George Kennedy!
If you like the “Die Hard” franchise or even Steven Seagal’s “Under Siege”, you’re guaranteed to love these films. They’re at least as entertaining, if not more so, with clever storylines, engaging characters, and intriguing surprises. And, seen back to back like this, you’ll spot many of the elements so ruthlessly spoofed in the classic comedy “Airplane!” Dollar for dollar, this triple feature (all for the price of one) is by far the best bang for your buck in a long time. And since this is the Aero Theater, don’t be surprised if there are some special guests!