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The burning question all you avid AIRPORT aficionadoes who already own most of these titles on their previous Goodtimes Home Video dvd incarnations probably have is: is it worth your spending your hard-earned dollars for this, the second release of these titles? My answer, after carefully comparing both versions of these titles (with the exception of THE CONCORDE: AIRPORT ‘79 which I don’t have), is a resounding "YES!"

Why? There is simply no contest as far as the transfers are concerned. Goodtimes version of the first AIRPORT is, in actuality, a not too terrible 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer that is somewhat soft, and with fleshtones that are slightly too reddish. There is a rather timid 2:0 stereo track which seems satisfactory until you hear the far richer and more encompassing 5.1/DTS tracks on this Universal release,(Alfred Newman’s great final score benefits immensely!) which is also visually  a more accurate and confident anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer.

The Goodtimes transfers of AIRPORT ‘75 and  AIRPORT ‘77, on the other hand, are  non-anamorphic, grainy, and artifact-ridden widescreen calamities, while the spotless, crystal-clear, distortion-free anamorphic 2.35:1 Universal versions are perfection pesonified and a true pleasure to watch. Even the mono soundtracks on the Universal releases sound superior to the Goodtimes tracks.

I have nothing to compare THE CONCORDE : AIRPORT ‘79 to, but I can tell you that this anamorphic 1.85 :1 transfer, while it seems just a trifle "squeezed", is very good indeed, and the mono soundtrack is as rich as a mono soundtrack can be.

As for the movies themselves, they have to be watched in the proper spirit for maximum enjoyment.  the original AIRPORT is a good, traditionally made "Grand Hotel"  with wings. No expense is spared, it’s first class in every department, courtesy of producer Ross Hunter. The cast is headed by soon to be ex-superstars Burt Lancaster and Dean

Martin in what would prove to be their last major success. (Lancaster, famously, hated the project, and gives the only sloppy and lazy performance of his career.)  The acting kudoes go to Van Heflin and Maureen Stapleton, both of whom are nothing less than superb in their portrayals of a would-be bomber and his pathetic wife, and to watch the great Lloyd Nolan animate what could be a nothing role as a customs man is a joy indeed.

AIRPORT ‘75: Nothing the Zucker brothers dreamt up in their subsequent AIRPLANE films can match this film for downright fall-down-laughing hilarity. This is the one about a mid-air collision between a private plane (piloted by Dana Andrews) and a 747 (piloted by Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) that has to be flown by its stewardess (sorry, flight attendant) who is played by the atrociously inept (and cross-eyed!) Karen Black (they couldn’t get Marty Feldman?). [NOTE: fifteen years before Warner’s released THE CROWDED SKY in which a private plane (piloted by Efrem Zimbalist Jr.!) crashes into a airliner piloted by—Dana Andrews!! I did some looping on this film for director Jack Smight, and when I told him of the above fact he was flabbergasted!] Remember the scene in AIRPLANE between the singing nun and the young girl on dialysis? This is the original! The amazingly awful Helen Reddy plays the nun, a much too robust-looking Linda Blair is the young girl, and trust me, folks, it’s much funnier here! A cadaverous-looking Gloria Swanson wrote her own dialogue for this (a condition of her participation) and it’s hilarious! Example: (FAWNING REPORTER): "Miss Swanson, how do you stay so young?" (SWANSON): "I never touch sugar or processed foods!" Through it all, Charlton Heston manages to keep a straight face—which is more than I could! Great, cheesy fun!

AIRPORT ‘77: This one, about a 747 trapped underwater in the Bermuda Triangle, is the saddest of the lot. It’s depressing to see the great James Stewart, looking dllapidated and disheveled, shuffle through one of many demeaning "cameos" that he was relegated to, and to watch distinguished two-time Academy Award winner Olivia De Havilland struggle through the rubble. (Ms. De Havilland would further demean herself a year later in the legendary stinker THE SWARM.) But have no fear, in this one the heroic pilot is none other than—JACK LEMMON!?!?

Lemmon, at a temporary low-point in his career, is hilariously clueless in this type of role , and for some reason elected to wear a thick, black mustache similar to the one he wore as the dastardly villain in THE GREAT RACE. Go figure.

THE CONCORDE: AIRPORT ‘79: The wackiest of the series, as the Concorde must evade a vicious attack by  a traitorous arms smuggler, played by—ROBERT WAGNER!?!?  Mr. Wagner’s approach to this role is a simple one—he never smiles, which is somewhat unfortunate, as Wagner’s entire fifty-year career is based on his ability to smile on cue. As for the rest of the cast: in what other film can you see Charo, Martha Raye, John Davidson , Sylvia Kristel, Jimmy Walker etc. all together in the same movie?

All things considered, this AIRPORT TERMINAL PACK is great fun. Be sure to include it with your portable dvd player on your next flight out of town.

--DICK DINMAN

 

 

Thrown off The Love Boat and into The Concorde

 

 

 

 

 

 

"This is what we get for flying coach!"

"When the moon hits your plane like a big--c'mon, everybody now!"

Heston: "Frankly, I felt safer in a chariot."

Heston saving Black but not her future in films.

"Oh, all right, Olivia. I'll get rid of my mustache if you'll get rid of yours."

"Don't worry about me, honey, maybe I'll get my third Oscar for The Swarm."

"They say that every time a plane crashes, an angel gets its wings."