A supersonic airborne disaster. In order to survive a flight headed for the Moscow Olympics, passengers of the Concorde must endure aerial acrobatics to dodge missiles and survive a device that decompresses the plane.
Mr. Phillip Stevens is flying in a load of V.I.P.s to the grand opening of his art collection when a trio of hijackers knock out the passengers with gas and try to steal the priceless cargo of art treasures. But everything goes wrong for the hijackers when the 747 crashes in the Bermuda triangle. While the passengers remain alive in the shallow water, a daring rescue operation is planned to bring the plane up without breaking it in two.Written by
Adam Carpenter <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The name of the private aircraft company was the "Stevens Corporation". The make and model of the airplane was a jumbo jet Boeing 747-100. The call name for its private flight was "Stevens' Flight 23", the flight's call sign being "Two-Three Sierra". See more »
Just before one of the hijackers hits the on-flight security guard on the back of the head, you can see the actor playing the security guard flinch before he is actually hit on the head. See more »
We're us! We're us. That's your problem: you think everybody is us. Can't you forget about other people for once and think about yourself?
Other people thinking about themselves got us down here in the first place, Karen.
You've got a lot of brains, Martin, but you're not a smart man.
See more »
Before the end credits, this text appears. "The incident portrayed in the film is fictional; the rescue capabilities utilized by the Navy are real". See more »
Network TV version features one hour of additional footage not included in either the theatrical release or home video release. Footage only seen in the network version includes:
Alternate opening credit sequence involving Banker and Wilson breaking into a laboratory.
A flight attendant cabin mock-up where the crew practice an evacuation using an escape slide. Shortly after, Anne introduces the crew to Joe Patroni.
Dialogue between Patroni and Anne.
A scene where Joe Patroni introduces Anne to Don Gallagher, who's working on a flight simulator of the plane he will fly.
Flashbacks of several characters. including Martin and Karen Wallace, Steve and Julie, Jane and Bonnie Stern, and Lisa with Ralph Crawford.
Extended dialogue throughout the film.
Gallagher and Eve discovering the plane's navigator is dead.
Scene involving Joe Patroni and his son, Joe. Jr. Patroni has been informed of the disappearance of the 747 and has to cancel plans to attend Joe Jr's graduation ceremony.
Brief additional footage of Martin Wallace's body floating outside the plane.
Emily attempts to console Karen, after the drowning of Martin.
As Gallagher and the scuba team make their underwater preparations to raise the plane, they discover Banker's body.
Amount of time for the plane to rise to the surface is longer than the theatrical version.
After the plan has risen, Gerald Lucas attempts to get out of the plane first, only to be stopped and pushed back by Buchek.
Dialogue between Philip Stevens and Eddie aboard the USS Cayuga. Stevens hands Eddie a piece of paper, which reveals Eddie's wife has given birth to twins. Stevens hands Eddie a cigar to celebrate the occasion.
Dialogue between Stevens and Buchek aboard the USS Cayuga.
How do you get a 747 widebody to the ocean floor without filling it completely with water? Modern jets will float for a half-hour or more, but once they start flooding, they don't stop until the cabin is uninhabitable. The intricate solution to this problem is just the first in a long series of hoops the producers had to jump through after saying, `Let's do a film about a jumbo jet that sinks in the Bermuda Triangle with the passengers still alive inside!'
Airport '77 is the gloomy response to this challenge. Art thieves hijack a specially equipped and highly luxurious private 747 to loot her expensive cargo. In the process of flying stealthily below radar, the copilot/thief (Meredith) strikes an oil drilling platform and loses control of the airplane. After a brief struggle to stay aloft, the jetliner settles onto the surface of the water, but not before a massive storage container tears loose and punches a fatal hole in the forward cargo compartment.
And therein lies the solution to the first problem. Like the customization of a conversion van from the same era, this private jet has been modified to contain a series of individually pressurized cargo holds. When the forward cargo compartment floods, the rest of the plane is left dry. Within minutes, however, the weight of the water pulls the plane to the floor of the ocean, with most of the passengers still alive and plenty of doors and windows leaking ominously.
Airport '77 starts with heavy-handed drama and never lets up. There's not much room for humor in a 747 several hundred feet under the water, but Airport '77 doesn't even attempt to lighten the mood occasionally. Better disaster movies pull the audience from one emotional extreme to another, but on this plane, the dialogue is suffocating even before the oxygen starts to run low. There isn't anyone in charge of bringing hope to the survivors (and the audience).
And despite their occasional humanitarian efforts, this group of super-rich, mostly white passengers does little to elicit sympathy from the audience. Only the head flight attendant (Vaccaro) invites compassion. Her romance with the pilot (a mustache-laden Lemmon) isn't adequately explored, particularly when he volunteers to leave the plane in a risky maneuver that might easily kill him. Meanwhile, virtually the entire support staff of the plane magically disappears so that the drama can focus on the wealthiest and presumably most interesting group aboard.
The tone of this film is gloomy right from the start, and bad cinematography doesn't help. Every room (on the plane or elsewhere) is dark, and every cast member seems to be covered with a thin layer of reflective slime even before the plane sinks! It's as though good lighting and decent makeup were dispensed with just to darken the mood.
The sun-drenched rescue operations offer the possibility of relief from the closed quarters of the plane, but instead we receive an abundance of stock Naval rescue footage. Generous thanks are paid to the men and women of the armed services who assisted in the production of this movie, and we know this to be true because the final third of the movie is so boring.
Airport '77 has the most elaborate special effects of any Airport movie, and they are enjoyable to watch. All of the external effects are clear, and the flooding inside the plane is done as well as can be expected. Aside from the abundance of dark brown furniture (and carpet, and paint, and wallpaper) it's the relentlessly dim lighting that clinches the claustrophobia. Though possibly necessitated by the depth of the plane underwater, the resultant sense of suffocation only disengages the viewer further. The cheap special effects of The Concorde: Airport '79 indicate that the lesson was learned that good effects won't save a mediocre film.
In short, Airport '77 just isn't fun enough. It's a clever premise and the producers went to great lengths to get the plane underwater in a satisfactory manner. But if it's not the weighty dialogue, it's the unengaging Naval training footage, and so the audience quickly discovers that there's really not that much to enjoy here after all. Airport '77 is fun to watch for the crash and flooding sequences (as well as Darren McGavin's dependable character acting), but seat-of-your-pants thrills are best found elsewhere.
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