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Harry Walker, X-military pilot, works for a radio station in Salt Lake City as a traffic helicopter pilot. While on his rounds he observes a bank robbery taking place and the abduction of a female teller. He follows, 1st the criminals in their car, then they transfer to a helicopter. Harry is running out of fuel so he stops on the road to flag down a tanker truck, gets fuel then continues the pursuit. Written by
Robert Fiedler <email@example.com>
The Hughes 500C that "Walker" flew throughout the film is one of the few turbine-engine helicopters (worldwide) which is flown single-pilot from the left seat. Since people tend to scan visually from left to right... the same way they read a book... it was more effective to have Walker in a left-facing helicopter like the 500C, as opposed to say, a Bell JetRanger, or a Fairchild FH-1100 which are flown from the right seat. Director William A. Graham shot all of the close-ups from the left side of the ship, usually looking slightly upward, with a tight depth-of-field. This threw everything behind Walker's shoulders out of focus. However, this was a dual-control ship! Note particularly the take-off after Walker fueled-up from the tanker truck. If you look closely (despite the fuzzy focus) you can readily see that the right-seat position looks unusually lumpy. That's because the film pilot who was doing the actual flying, was crouched in there, under a black shroud. See more »
[after Walker saves him by ramming the robbers' helicopter]
Damn it, Walker! Nobody asked you to do that!
See more »
It's an action/chase thriller from the '70s with helicopters instead of cars.
This film was part of the edge-of-your-seat action/chase genre made popular in the '70s. Films like Vanishing Point, and Smokey and the Bandit, where nothing more than a car chase sequence with a little cohesive drama or comedy thrown in.
The makers of Birds of Prey obviously had the same thing in mind, but they added an interesting twist; helicopters instead of cars.
David Janssen plays Harry Walker, an ex-WWII fighter pilot longing for the glory days of dog fights and heroic aerobatics. He is a now twice divorced, lonely, and somewhat bitter, Salt Lake City helicopter traffic reporter. Ralph Meeker plays Jim "Mac" McAndrew, a former war buddy of Walker's who prefers to stay on the ground, forget flying, war planes, and the past, to focus on the his career as a Salt Lake City cop.
On a routine day Walker witnesses a bank robbery from the air. He calls it into Mac who thinks he's pulling a gag. The robbers kill a bank guard and take a hostage then get away in a stolen car. The chase begins. The police join the chase as car and chopper scream through urban Salt Lake City.
This was a pretty good film for a made-for-TV movie. The flying sequences are well done and well coordinated. The flying stunts, including diving under overpasses, flying into and out of buildings, tumbling (auto-rotating), and flying between sky scrapers, are all done with real helicopters. No toys on strings or models with goofy trick photography were used. The acting and drama aren't bad, but that's not what this movie's about. Like Top Gun, this movie's about flying.
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