1 August 2003 | jimu63
So bad they advertised it as a comedy!
"The Concorde--Airport '79" is truly one of the worst films ever made. It is tacky, imbecilic, and inept, with some of the most inane plotting ever committed to celluloid. It comes complete with what is probably the worst script ever by an Academy Award Winner (Eric Roth of "Forrest Gump" fame). It is so dumb it is laughable. It is stupid. In fact, it is so bad they advertised it as a comedy!
The plot is inane: wealthy weapons manufacturer (Robert Wagner) is confronted by television anchorwoman/girlfriend (Susan Blakely), who tells him she has evidence that he is selling secrets to the Russians and is going to expose him. Does he kill her then? No. Since she has been assigned to cover the inaugural flight of the Concorde (Washington, D.C. to Paris to Moscow), he decides to shoot down the plane with the anchorwoman in it. So when the plane takes off with the usual "Hollywood Squares" cast of television has-beens as passengers, and the two most unlikely pilots in the business (Alain Delon as Capt. Marquand and George Kennedy as Capt. Joe Patroni--that's right, airline mechanic turned executive turned Concorde pilot), he tries to shoot it down with a wayward missile, which he could conveniently blame on equipment failure. After the pilots elude the missile by flipping the plane over a half-dozen times and firing a flare out the window while flying at mach 2 (!!), they survey the damage and decide to fly on to Paris, since noone is hurt and structural damage evidently not a concern. Then they get to Paris, where they are attacked by a couple of fighter jets, which they manage to elude. They then crash land (in one of the most cheesy uses of obvious miniatures I have ever seen in a supposedly big-budget film--even the trees are obviously plastic) and disembark. That's the end, right? Wrong. The movie is only half over, so after an overnight layover, in which the cast couples as if the Concorde is Noah's Ark, everyone reboards the plane to go on to Moscow, even though they know someone is trying to bring it down.
Anyway, let's just say the second leg of the trip ends even worse, with the plane crashing into a snowdrift without a single passenger or crew fatality. So what does our wealthy weapons manufacturer do? He shoots himself in the head. Fade to Black.
Where do I start? Obviously this is absolutely ridiculous from start to finish. And then there are the actors: soft-core porn star Sylvia Kristel as a stewardess, Jimmie "J.J." Walker a saxophonist, Mercedes McCambridge looking ridiculous as a Russian gym coach, Andre Marcovicci as a gymnast who appears to be six feet tall, John Davidson as a TV reporter, Bibi Andersson a prostitute, Eddie Albert the idiot Concorde owner and Sybil Danning his trophy wife, David Warner the flight engineer, etc. etc. There's even a cameo by Charo (yes, Charo) as a passenger who tries to smuggle a chihuahua onto the plane by pretending to be blind and saying it's her "seeing eye Chihuahua." And, sadly, we're treated to the sight of the great African-American actress Cicely Tyson, reduced to picking up a paycheck as the mother of a heart-transplant recipient who's accompanying the heart to Paris where her son waits. (In the late '70's, the two most highly regarded TV performances of the decade were Sally Field in "Sybil" and Cicely Tyson in "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman." Field was rewarded for her performance with a film career that was capped by two Oscars. Tyson disappeared after appearing in this travesty. How sad.)
Yep, the stupidity runs rampant: Kennedy and Andersson make love by a fire. Kennedy tells stewardess Kristel: "They don't call it the cockpit for nothing, honey," a line that would get you fired in a second nowadays. Albert says upon disembarking in Paris: "Nobody is keeping us from going on the Moscow!" Martha Raye adds unfunny comic relief as an old lady with weak bowels. When she's nervous, she runs to the bathroom. She spends the entire film in the bahtroom. (Ho! Ho!) And no one even mentions lawsuit once, even after the plane turns upside down. And the cast? Dreadful. All the way down the line. Paychecks, paychecks, paychecks. That's all anyone was after on this one.
Incidentally, the "director" of this mess was yet another television hack, David Lowell Rich, who may as well be named Ed Wood. But he's the least of the problems. No, the problem is a studio that insisted on dumping cheapjack product like this on an undemanding public instead of taking the time to hire truly talented visionaries who could come up with a decent premise, or better yet, not make the darned film in the first place. The only good thing about "The Concorde--Airport '79"? Released at the same time as "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure" and the year before "When Time Ran Out...," it delivered strike two in the at bat that mercifully ended the disaster craze of the '70's. And not a moment too soon. no stars (out of *****)