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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
A terrified stewardess (Karen Black) is forced to take the controls of a Boeing 747 after it's struck by a private aircraft in mid-flight, incapacitating the entire air crew.
Anyone who's seen the likes of AIRPLANE! (1980) is going to chuckle in all the wrong places whilst viewing this opportunistic melodrama, which was ripe for parody long before the Zucker brothers tore it apart in their landmark comedy. On its own terms, Jack Smight's film - devised in the wake of such ultra-successful disaster spectaculars as THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1972) and THE TOWERING INFERNO (1974) - is a surprisingly routine affair, directed with complete indifference, and played to the hilt by a commercially-dictated 'all-star cast', including Helen Reddy, Gloria Swanson (her final screen appearance), Linda Blair, Dana Andrews, Sid Caesar, Myrna Loy and Charlton Heston as an experienced pilot summoned by authorities to help land the plane safely. Black gives a truly committed performance as the frightened stewardess forced to confront the situation head-on, and she's matched by disaster-movie stalwart George Kennedy as a flight engineer charged with overseeing the rescue operation, knowing that his wife and child are aboard the stricken plane. As with all Universal movies of the period, it looks like a widescreen TV feature, and the cheapskate production values are obvious throughout. That said, it's much more entertaining than its mediocre predecessor AIRPORT (1969); followed by AIRPORT '77 (1977).
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