10 Things I Appreciate About Airport 1975

I like Airport. There hadn’t been anything quite like it until it came out in 1970, and it won the Best Picture Academy Award, kickstarting the disaster-movie craze for the rest of the decade. I have a soft spot for big spectacles like The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno. But I had never watched any of the sequels to Airport until recently.

I watched Airport 1975 expecting to be underwhelmed. Which I was, in many ways. It falls short of the original by failing to be about anything more than landing a badly damaged airplane. The original has all kinds of plotlines interweaving a group of interesting characters. The second lacks any kind of nuance or deeper meaning. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to like about it. Here are 10 things I appreciate about Airport 1975.

1. The Crash Scene

If there’s nothing else that Airport 1975 does slightly better than Airport, it’s the scene where the cockpit gets struck by another airplane. We actually get to see one of the pilots get sucked out by the sudden change in air pressure. And the other gets brutally injured. It adds that tiny bit of visceral payoff to the tension that the first film lacked. I mean, I like it when the bomb goes off in Airport, but there’s something about seeing the actual explosion that makes it that much more real.

2. The Stewardess Isn’t Perfect

And speaking of realism, I absolutely love the fact that the stewardess isn’t some kind of girl-power lady who rises to the occasion to save the day. She’s just a regular woman who doesn’t know any more about flying a 747 than I do. As a result, she’s incredibly relatable. When she panics and calls for help, it feels authentic. There’s never a moment when she is suddenly imbued with knowledge or experience she had no way of attaining. Her whole goal is to hold out long enough for help to arrive. She has to rely on a damaged radio and a badly hurt captain to advise her on what to do at all times. She couldn’t land the plane, and someone else had to do it. That’s admirable in this world of unrealistic heroines.

3. Utah References

I wasn’t raised in Utah, but I’ve lived there for the past 15 years. It’s fun that so much of this film revolves around the Salt Lake City Airport. Because of that, we get all kinds of fun references to Utah culture and sites. The people on the damaged airplane get help from Hill Air Force Base, which I’m familiar with. I’ve driven fairly close to it many times north of Salt Lake City. Plus, one character mentions seeing the Mormon temple, and another refers to Brigham Young. Good stuff.

4. Exterior Shots of the Airplane

The exterior shots of the Boeing 747 look absolutely gorgeous, especially after the plane gets struck. It really looks like the plane is damaged, and it’s jaw-dropping how close to the ground they managed to get it for certain shots. Not since the airplane scene in Cliffhanger have I been so impressed by aerial stuntwork as by Airport 1975.

5. Airplane! Inspirations

Of all the Airport movies, this one seems to be the most lambasted by the makers of Airplane! The girl needing an operation, the nun with a guitar singing to the little girl, autopilot, and the plane skidding out of control on the runway all directly inspired great jokes in Airplane! I realize that Airplane! takes its plot from an old movie called Zero Hour! But that doesn’t mean that it lifted everything from that film. It’s just hilarious watching scenes I’m used to being played for laughs instead being played totally straight.

6. They Didn’t Reuse the First Film’s Score

It would have been so easy for the makers of Airport 1975 to just reuse the first film’s iconic main theme, or at least hint at it in its own original score. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that this film leaves the first film’s score completely alone and manages to do its own thing. I don’t find the results particularly impressive, but I still admire the attempt at doing something different.

7. George Kennedy

One thing I am glad that they reused is the character of Joe Patroni. George Kennedy is the only actor from the first film to appear in this sequel. In fact, he went on to be in every Airport movie, and he was sad that the Zucker brothers and Jim Abrahams didn’t cast him in their Airplane! spoof. Thankfully, they cast him as the Police Chief in the Naked Gun trilogy. He’s great in this movie. Putting his wife and son in peril adds a bit of weight to the movie where it would otherwise be sorely lacking.

8. Charlton Heston

Speaking of great actors, let’s not forget the star of this picture, Charlton Heston. Between this and Earthquake, Heston is no stranger to the disaster-movie genre. And he performs admirably. He doesn’t have much to work with in terms of his character motivation, but that doesn’t matter much. He’s got a job to do, and he does it with his customary toughness.

9. Ed Nelson

I doubt anyone else in the world remembers actor Ed Nelson by name, but I sure do. I got excited when I saw that he was going to appear in this movie. He plays an older pilot who suffers a heart attack midflight and accidentally collides with the larger airplane. Ed Nelson has been in too many great pieces of entertainment for me to name, but I’ll list two of my favorites: Night of the Blood Beast and the “Dialogues with Death” episode of Thriller.

10. Linda Blair

I can’t end this list without mentioning Linda Blair. I’ve never seen the first two Exorcist movies, and I’m not much of a horror fan, so seeing her name in the opening credits didn’t pique my interest. However, it is rather funny to see her playing the part of the little girl in need of an operation. Thinking of her face puckering up when the IV gets plucked out by the guitar did make me chuckle as I watched the nun sing to her.

Time to Take Off

Some articles are a total delight to write. This is one of those. I needed to write something fun and upbeat. Anyone’s enjoyment of it is a nice byproduct, but this has mostly been for my own entertainment. I certainly hope you enjoyed reading it. Give Airport 1975 a watch if you’re interested in seeing a serious version of Airplane! that actually has some decent moments.

This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.

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About Robert Lockard, the Deja Reviewer

Robert Lockard has been a lover of writing since he was very young. He studied public relations in college, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 2006. His skills and knowledge have helped him to become a sought-after copywriter in the business world. He has written blogs, articles, and Web content on subjects such as real estate, online marketing and inventory management. His talent for making even boring topics interesting to read about has come in handy. But what he really loves to write about is movies. His favorite movies include: Fiddler on the Roof, Superman: The Movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Back to the Future, Beauty and the Beast, The Fugitive, The Incredibles, and The Dark Knight. Check out his website: Deja Reviewer. Robert lives in Utah with his wife and four children. He loves running, biking, reading, and watching movies with his family.
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2 Responses to 10 Things I Appreciate About Airport 1975

  1. jesse james says:

    ’77 is my favorite, don’t even bother with ’79.

    Liked by 1 person

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