Airport Terminal Pack
Okay, so no "serious" viewer will buy -- or, at least, admit to buying -- this double-disc set containing the four Universal Pictures' Airport movies, from the big-budget, high-profile original, Airport (1970), directed by George Seaton, through the sequels Airport 1975 (directed by Jack Smight) and Airport '77 (the work of Jerry Jameson), to the final entry, Airport '79: Concorde, helmed by David Lowell Rich. Only the first was taken seriously by audiences and, in fact, the second and third movies were among the early manifestations of the creeping "sequel-itis" that would afflict American movies from the '70s onward. (It was but a short jump from Airport 1975 to Jaws 2 [from the very same studio, Universal], etc., and from there to the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street series.) That doesn't mean, however, that the four movies here don't all bear at least a look, even if the points-of-interest lie outside the boundaries of their cinematic virtues. The first movie, George Seaton's Airport (1970), was one of the last gasps of the old Hollywood, doing what it still did better than any other moviemaking colony, parading major, recognizable stars and a screen icon or two (Burt Lancaster, Helen Hayes) across the screen -- and a super-wide Todd-AO-proportioned screen at that -- in a story that encompassed adventure, suspense, romance, and infidelity (interspersed with some very carefully placed comic relief), around the work of the top veteran craftsmen of the period. Seaton was nearly at the end of his career, and composer Alfred Newman never lived to see his Oscar nomination for the score here; it was all superficial, if not outright silly, but also downright spellbinding. By the time we get to Jack Smight's Airport 1975, there is no old Hollywood veneer, and the cinematic content is absolutely minimal; the movie has a decidedly low-rent look, shot in Panavision but, in its production values and design, and most of its casting beyond its one real star (Charlton Heston), looks like an expensive made-for-TV feature. What is interesting from a sociological standpoint is the effort by the makers, in keeping with the sensibilities of the day, to acknowledge feminism -- whereas the 1970 movie's screenplay didn't quite know what to do with the idea of a female character in a position of authority, making Jean Seberg's character unattractive at times, and the butt of certain jokes in the script, Airport 1975 manages to put a stewardess played by Karen Black in the pilot's seat without hesitation, until stalwart hero Heston gets dropped into the stricken plane in mid-air. Airport '77, directed by Jerry Jameson, reached deeper into Hollywood's past, somewhat effectively in the case of Jack Lemmon as the pilot, and mixed the basic notion of suspense in the air with a caper plot about a heist gone wrong. And, finally, on its last gasp, David Lowell Rich's Airport '79: Concorde simply abandons all self-respect. Photographed in an anemic 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen and looking like a B-movie that wouldn't rate a prime-time showing on network TV, it's saddled with a script that's more jokey and obsessed with casual sex (and casual drug use) among its characters than the original movie's screenwriter or original author Arthur Hailey ever dreamt of; and it carries a cast that mostly (with all due respect to Eddie Albert, Bibi Andersson, and Andrea Marcovicci, none of whom belonged here), couldn't make an interesting episode of The Love Boat -- the salacious hot-tub scene between Marcovicci and John Davidson is particularly gross (as is the notion of any big-screen work by Davidson, clothed or not). Its visual highlight is a series of ridiculous aerobatics (including upside-down flying) by the Concorde, with accompanying shots of havoc among the passengers that look like test footage for Airplane! But the real value in the final film may be as an artifact of mainstream Hollywood's belated discovery of the sexual revolution, and a look back at pop-culture's flirtation with casual sex, before the election of Ronald Reagan and the advent of the AIDS epidemic, and awareness of other sexually transmitted diseases all contrived to put a damper on the mood and the behavior -- when characters, including heroes and heroines (at least, when one of the heroines was Sylvia Kristel), could engage in lives filled with recreational sex (and sex with prostitutes) without a seeming care in the world. On a technical level, each film gets 18 chapters, which is too little for the first and too many for the sequels, and each comes with its original trailer. All four movies are presented their original theatrical widescreen aspect ratios, and their soundtracks are rendered in the original mono and remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. Subtitles are available in English, French, and Spanish, and each of the double-sided platters opens automatically to a simple, easy-to-use menu.