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When the pilot of a small aircraft has a heart attack and crashes his plane into the cockpit of a Boeing 747, several members of the flight crew are killed and the pilot is blinded. Miraculously, the 747 stays in the air on auto-pilot with flight attendant Nancy Prior at the controls. Ground controllers, including her boyfriend Alan Murdock, try to teach her the basics but they soon realize they will have to get a trained pilot into the cockpit. Their first attempt fails and Murdock realizes he will have to do it. Meanwhile, various passengers have their own problems including a young girl who is destined to a life saving operation. Written by
The 747 used in the film cost $30,000 per day to rent from American Airlines. All exterior shots of the aircraft (and one interior shot of Charlton Heston at the controls) were completed in two days (landing shots in Salt Lake City, aerial shots over the Wasatch mountain range in Utah, evening and early morning flight shots, and a stunt shot involving engine #1 ramming into an outbuilding). The evening taxi and takeoff shots were filmed as the plane, with the re-badged "Columbia Airlines" logo on the fuselage, was being delivered to Salt Lake City for the two days of filming. See more »
The first shot of the plane's film projector shows it not illuminated when the film is being shown, but in the following shots it is illuminated. See more »
Airport '75 was definitely the funniest of that series. It was not as soap opera-esque as the original, nor was it as cheerless as '77.
Humorous elements abounded: The lewd young navigator (Erik Estrada, who at that point could not speak a word of Spanish, despite his seeming mastery of it here). The three obnoxious business passengers (Conrad Janis, Norman Fell, and Jerry Stiller; who would all later, as we know, go on to co-star in highly successful TV comedies) The hapless Cid Ceasar character, who only attended this flight to see the in-flight movie, which promptly broke right before his favorite scene.
The passenger areas look surprisingly comfortable, with ample space for individual passengers. Much better, it seems, than what we are subjected to today (the mid-seventies decor notwithstanding).
The mirthful subtones aside, this is a serious movie. The pivotal point happens when a small private plane goes astray, hitting the 747 right above the windshield. The navigator is killed, the co-pilot is sucked out through the hole (in a manner reminiscent of the commander of the imperial walker being pulled out by Chewbacca in "Return of the Jedi"; and the captain is incapacitated. Poor Nancy the Stewardess (Karen Black) must seize the controls!
It is up to Charlton Heston (before he became a conservative) and George Kennedy, with some help from friends in the U.S. Air Force, to save the day.
Verdict, hardly a brain challenger (If you want your brain challenged, read a book, I always say!) but worth seeing.
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