17 September 2014 | virek213
Little Crises (And A BIG One) At L.A.X.
No one's going to mistake the 1985 made-for-TV air disaster film INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT for, say, THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY or ZERO HOUR, that's for sure. But for what it sets out to do, which is to more or less continue the trend begun by Arthur Hailey's 1968 novel "Airport" and continued through four films (AIRPORT; AIRPORT 1975; AIRPORT '77; THE CONCORDE: AIRPORT '79), it succeeds all the same.
Gil Gerard stars as David Montgomery, the general manager at L.A.X. (basically reworking Burt Lancaster's role from the original 1970 film AIRPORT) who is confronted by any number of crises on this particular day, including a very overworked air traffic control chief (Bill Bixby), who is made even more antsy by a the presence of a rookie, not to mention female, air traffic controller (Connie Selleca); the break-up of a marriage between a pilot (Robert Reed) and a stewardess (Susan Blakely); and so on. But the real crisis comes when a flight from L.A.X. to Hawaii becomes the target of a bomb threat, and the possibility that not only is the bomb onboard in the plane's cargo hold, but that the bomber may be onboard as well. Most of these particular crises can't help but be rather predictable, including the fact that the bomb threat turns out to be a hoax perpetrated by a passenger (Vera Miles) to frighten a fellow passenger (George Grizzard) as revenge for having killed her son in a drunk driving incident. That said, though, the climax, in which the plane is forced to make a straight-in return approach to LAX from the west with its fuel tanks pinned at empty and risk taking a dive into the Pacific, is handled reasonably well.
INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, which, incredibly, required two veteran TV directors (Charles S. Dubin; Don Chaffey), is, again, not overtly spectacular; but it is hardly the worst film of this particular kind ever made. But it does benefit from at least two solid performances, namely George Kennedy (who of course played Joe Patroni in all four original "Airport" films), and Robert Vaughn (THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN; BULLITT) as the pilot of the aircraft in peril. It also helps that a great deal of this film was made on location at L.A.X. itself (this being more than a decade and a half before 9/11, of course).
For the things it sets out to do, and manages to accomplish them as well as any TV film of this kind can, I'm giving a '7' to INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT.