"Skyjacked," one of many "air disaster" films from "The High and the Mighty" to "Airport", is one of the best in the genre. Featuring a star-studded cast headed by Charlton Heston (as the pilot, of course) and Yvette Mimieux (head stewardess), it's a fast-paced, efficient study in suspense. Basically a story involving the attempted hijacking of a commercial airplane, it focuses on a small group of first class passengers who provide both the drama and occasional (intended) humor. Among them are a middle-aged couple (Ross Elliot and Jeanne Crain) worried about yet another job transfer, a senator and his son (Walter Pidgeon and Nicholas Hammond) a "hippie girl" (Susan Dey, on leave from "The Partridge Family" in her screen debut), a jazz musician (former football great Rosey Grier) and of course, a pregnant woman (Mariette Hartley), who is due any minute (apparently, the nun missed this flight). Also aboard is a young sergeant (James Brolin, who fit this in between seasons of "Marcus Welby MD). Last, but not least is Leslie Uggams making her film debut, as an assistant stewardess.
Despite the occasionally unintentionally funny dialogue and predictable situations which, let's face it, go with the territory, the film has enough action and melodrama to be consistently entertaining. The cast give it their all. Far more interesting than the love triangle between Heston, Mimeux and co-pilot Mike Henry (which is established in a few ludicrous, but mercifully short flashbacks) are the performances of those who play the passengers. Crain, as lovely as ever, (in her first film in five years,and her last) gets to assist in the delivery of Hartley's baby, as well as a chance to attack the villain. Pidgeon doesn't have to say much to give his character authority, Hartley is charming, and Susan Dey is both natural and appealing. As for Grier, he displays a genial screen presence while Brolin even evokes a bit of viewer sympathy.
"Skyjacked" was a big hit when it was first released and got a big audience rating when it was shown on television as "Sky Terror". The photography is excellent, the music by Perry Botkin, Jr. ("Nadia's Theme") is unobtrusively effective, and the main theme is beautiful. Although "Airport 1975" was waiting in the wings, so to speak, "Skyjacked" holds it's own. It will be released this June on DVD in it's original Panavision aspect ratio. I for one, can't wait!
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