Sam McCloud is a rustic country sheriff from a rural part of the United States. He travels to the big city and joins the police force, using his country ways and laid-back approach to nab the bad guys.
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This was the fourth series for Lloyd Bridges. He had previously starred in "Sea Hunt", "The Lloyd Bridges Show" and Rod Serling's "The Loner".
Bridges turned down the lead in "Star Trek". It probably reminded him too much of his B-movie days. Bridges was also considered as a replacement for Jack Lord on "Hawaii 5-0" (apparently CBS found Lord difficult to work with). Bridges was a very hot TV leading man in the 1960's and well into the 1970's. He was probably on the short list for any drama series lead in those years.
Bridges was an ambitious and serious actor. Consider the range of his work: Gary Cooper's cowardly deputy in "High Noon", heroic Mike Nelson in "Sea Hunt", the Joe Di Maggio character in Paddy Chayefsky's "The Goddess" and the hilarious airport manager in "Airplane". He was credible in almost anything that was thrown at him. Bridges always itched for challenges as an actor, but he was usually frustrated.
Bridges aged extremely well. "San Francisco International Airport" was on in 1970 when Bridges was 57. (He had co-starred with Bogart in "Sahara" in 1943.) He looked at least ten years younger than his actual age. Bridges was still very much the dashing, heroic leading man as he closed in on 60.
Pernell Roberts (with toupee) played the airport manager in the pilot movie for this series. The warmer Bridges replaced him for the six episode series. The fact that the series was already sold was probably attractive to Bridges.
This series had a similar set up to Universal's smash hit movie "Airport" (1970). Burt Lancaster played the airport manager in that movie.
"San Franciso International Airport" was very competently done, even if it wasn't particularly compelling. The creators were William Read Woodfield and Allan Balter, who had been writer/producers on "Mission Impossible". The producer was Paul Mason, who would do "McMillan and Wife" the next season. The executive producer was Richard Irving, who helped develop "Columbo" and "The Six Million Dollar Man".
Clu Gulager, always interesting, co-starred as the airport head of security. Lovely Barbara Werle was in too few scenes as Bridges' secretary. Guest stars included Robert Webber, James Olson, Lew Ayres, Henry Silva, Charles Aidman, Scott Brady, Dane Clark, Albert Salmi and Tim O'Connor.
Lloyd Bridges starred in another series in 1975: "Joe Forrester", where he played a cop on the beat.
Bill Murray, in a "Saturday Night Live" sketch, once asked "Quien es mas macho: David Janssen, Lloyd Bridges o Jack Lord?" The correct answer was Lloyd Bridges, of course.
"San Francisco International Airport" was one of four hour-long shows making up "Four in One". The others were "McCloud" with Dennis Weaver, "The Psychiatrist" with Roy Thinnes and Rod Serling's "Night Gallery".
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