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4-Movie Set Yields Fine Quality! .... Excellent Bargain!,
This review is from: Airport Terminal (DVD)It's nice being able to have the entire "Airport" movie "franchise" located in a compact 2-Disc DVD set, which is what Universal Studios Home Video has provided fans here with the "Airport Terminal Pack".
All four "Airport" disaster flicks from the 1970s are here, and all featuring crisp-looking widescreen anamorphic DVD transfers. This budget-priced collection comes with two dual-sided discs (one movie per side).
"Airport" (1970), stars Burt Lancaster as Mel Bakersfeld, General Manager of the fictitious "Lincoln International Airport", located in snowy Chicago, Illinois. Many scenes in "Airport" were filmed at an actual U.S. airport -- Minneapolis-St. Paul International.
This initial entry in the series is by far the best (IMO), being nominated, in fact, for a whopping ten 1970 Oscars, including Best Picture. It was battling some pretty heavyweight company that year for the Best Picture Academy Award -- with the other nominees being: "Patton" (which took the statue), "Five Easy Pieces", "M*A*S*H", and "Love Story".
"Airport" did manage to garner one of the other major Oscar awards however -- with Helen Hayes winning for Best Supporting Actress (besting Karen Black, Lee Grant, Sally Kellerman, and fellow "Airport" co-star Maureen Stapleton). Ironically, both Black and Grant would themselves go on to co-star in future films in the "Airport" series.
Although clocking in at a fairly-lengthy 2 hours and 17 minutes (2:16:30 to be precise), "Airport" never drags, in my view (even though about half the "action" here takes place on the ground at Bakersfeld's busy and weather-plagued airport). But, for me, I liked it all the better for this type of "ground-based" storyline -- coupled later in the film, of course, with the intertwined plotline of Van Heflin as a disturbed bomb-carrying Rome-bound passenger. The combination of on-the-ground and in-the-air sequences form an overall well-balanced story. And, while the "special effects" are indeed dated (very much so in fact -- the 707 shown climbing out of Chicago is so obviously a toy, complete with alternating blinking lights), they still served their purpose well enough in this movie to convey what needed to be conveyed.
The Boeing 707 aircraft shown in the first "Airport" film was borrowed (leased) from Flying Tigers Airlines, and re-painted to display the livery of "Trans Global Airlines", which also was a name manufactured by the filmmakers. Sadly, that exact 707 crashed in Brazil in 1989, killing three.
Only one 707 was actually used to make the movie, although the impression of THREE different planes is eluded to in the picture -- one being the aircraft that gets stuck in the snow at the very start of the film; another being the plane Dean Martin pilots on the Chicago-to-Rome flight; and the third being the jet that we see take off early in the movie, which causes a Meadowood resident some grief due to the rattling dishes on the dining-room table as the jet roars overhead. Pretty slick "sleight-of-planes" I've always thought.
One thing that strikes me as very odd concerning the first "Airport" film is the "G" rating that it apparently received from the MPAA. In my view, the film should have garnered a "PG" for the several instances of mildly foul language, if for no other reason. Add to this the rather mature subject matter -- involving people being blown to bits by homemade bombs, open conversation regarding abortion, and the THREE separate cases of adultery eluded to in the movie -- and I'd say that a "G" rating was a tad bit on the lenient side.
"Airport 1975" (produced in 1974) is the second of the four films. Charlton Heston saves the day in this "Airport" entry, as he boards a stricken Boeing 747 jetliner in a most unorthodox fashion, via a mid-air transfer, which looks pretty authentic even by today's higher standards. This film isn't any "Casablanca", but it's still a fun movie nonetheless. Plus: It's significant for being Gloria Swanson's 73rd and final film role.
The 747 Jumbo Jet we see in "Airport 1975" was leased from American Airlines for the making of the film (you can easily recognize the American red, white, and blue markings). And that plane is still flying today (at least as of January 2004), operating as a freighter for United Parcel Service (with registration # N675UP).
"Airport '77" (1977) gives us another star-laden cast, including Jack Lemmon, James Stewart, Lee Grant, Christopher Lee, Joseph Cotten, Olivia de Havilland, and a very young-looking 22-year-old Kathleen Quinlan. This time 'round, it's again a Boeing 747 that's in trouble, being hijacked by a band of art thieves into the Bermuda Triangle, with disastrous results. The footage of the watery crash of the doomed 747 looks stunningly realistic.
"The Concorde -- Airport '79" (1979) is the weak link in the "Airport" chain. By far. But it's still good for an (unintentional) laugh or two -- and for George Kennedy's fourth appearance as fiery Joe Patroni (this time as a pilot, "Captain" Patroni).
An additional (and sorrowful) reason you might want to tune in to the '79 "Airport" offering is the fact that the Concorde we see in the movie is the very same aircraft that crashed tragically in Paris on July 25, 2000. In fact, if you look very closely, you can make out the real-life aircraft registration number (F-BTSC), which was not painted out by the filmmakers.
"Airport" features two different multi-channel 5.1 Surround soundtracks on this DVD (a Dolby Digital track, plus a DTS one). The last three movies in the series sport simple Mono audio tracks. They all sound quite nice to my ears.
The 16x9-enhanced widescreen versions we get in this collection all look mighty fine. We also get each film's Original Aspect Ratio -- 2.35:1 for each of the first three movies; and 1.85:1 for "Airport '79".
Extras .... The only bonus features are the Theatrical Trailers, which are included for each of the four films.
Packaging .... The "Terminal Pack" comes in a fold-out "Digipak" case, with an attractive (and relatively-sturdy) outer slipcase cover, which includes raised lettering for the title. Very nice case.
In conclusion .... Universal has provided nice, clear anamorphic versions of four films, with pleasing soundtracks, plus the original trailers -- all in one low-priced, space-saving, two-disc package. Hard to gripe about those stats! I can recommend the "Airport Terminal Pack" highly!