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Cutlass Aircraft has just completed America's first supersonic jetliner, and a host of celebrities and other important people have booked tickets for the maiden voyage, including former sportscaster Lyle Kingman (Martin Milner) and his ex-wife (Susan Strasberg), CEO Paul Whitley (Peter Graves), a soon-to-be married couple (John de Lancie and Season Hubley), Cutlass PR man Tim Vernon (Bert Convy) and his girlfriend Angela (Misty Rowe), television reporter Carla Stanley (Barbara Anderson), grounded pilot Hank Fairbanks (Doug McClure), and legendary aircraft designer Willy Basset (Burgess Meredith). Unfortunately the plane's hydraulic system has been sabotaged by a disgruntled Cutlass engineer (George Maharis), and last-minute passenger Dr. Therman (Brock Peters) has brought a deadly strain of influenza aboard. With no working controls at 60,000 feet over the Atlantic, Captain Walsh (Robert Reed), McClure, Meredith, and Cutlass VP Marshall Cole (Lorne Greene), have to find a way to get ... Written by
Christopher M. Buckey
Let me say straight away that this movie is toxic waste for the mind. This movie is not watchable because it has a good story; it doesn't. It's not watchable because there's good acting; there is none. It's watchable because of the cast. This will take you down TV memory lane...how many former TV stars can you pick out?
As with any TV "Movie of the Week", the drawing power is in the stars. The story involves the inaugural flight of "Maiden One" the first supersonic transport plane. (The movie ignores the fact that it was a British-French conglomerate that first built the Concorde, and had to sue for the right to land in America during this time.) In this movie, we have a disgruntled worker who sabotages the flight by putting detergent in the hydraulic lines in order to get revenge on his boss (Burgess Meredith).
We also have Doug McClure trying to get back into Tina Louise's pants, Billy Crystal playing a rather fey steward, John Delancie in training for his future role as Q, and Peter Graves as one half of a former May-December romance. Did I mention that there also happens to be a plot line about the airplane carrying the Senegal flu, which is now spreading among the crew? If you don't have sabotage, you've got the untamed strain of flu floating around.
There are two references that date this movie. One is a reference to the "Swine flu". The other is the way that Burt Convy discusses abortion with his bimbo girlfriend -- the concept is mentioned, but she won't let him say the word.
The movie does have a reverse natural selection -- the megastars like Meredith & Graves die, but losers like Convy, McClure, etc. live to make another bad TV movie. Check out the cameo of Regis Philbin (and his hair) as an annoying TV reporter.
Sterno says SST Death Flight is a guilty pleasure.
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