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Airport (movie)

Airport is a 1970 film which tells the story of an airport manager trying to keep his Midwest airport open during a snowstorm, whilst a bomber plots to blow up an airplane (a Boeing 707 in this movie).

Although it had a complex plot, Airport paved the way for the disaster movie genre and established many of the conventions for that genre.

It stars Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, Jean Seberg, Jacqueline Bisset, George Kennedy, Helen Hayes, Van Heflin, Maureen Stapleton, Barry Nelson, Dana Wynter, Lloyd Nolan, Barbara Hale and Gary Collins.

The movie was adapted by George Seaton from the novel by Arthur Hailey. It was directed by Seaton and Henry Hathaway.

It won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Helen Hayes), and was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Maureen Stapleton), Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design (Edith Head), Best Film Editing, Best Music, Original Score, Best Picture, Best Sound and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.

Several sequels were made, the first of which, Airport 1975, was a big-budget blockbuster featuring an all-star cast, including Charlton Heston, Karen Black, Gloria Swanson (who played herself), Myrna Loy, Linda Blair, Helen Reddy, George Kennedy, Ephraim Zimbalist Jr. This film featured the passengers and crew of a Boeing 747, and the events following a mid-air collision with a light aircraft. The pilots are incapacitated and the stewardess (Black) has to fly and land the aircraft. This movie, directed by Jack Smight, fell firmly into the blockbuster disaster movie category at the height of the genre's heyday, and established many of the "standard" plot devices and motifs that were later widely mocked in the Airplane series.

A further follow up, Airport '77, pushed the suspension of disbelief to ever more bizarre levels, in this case a 747 which crashes in the atlantic and sinks, trapping everyone on board under water. Again, a notable cast - Jack Lemmon, Lee Grant, Brenda Vaccaro, Olivia de Havilland, James Stewart, Christopher Lee, Kathleen Quinlan and of course George Kennedy - the only actor to appear in all four of the series. This sequel is generally considered the best of the four as a movie, though perhaps the first two were more technically accurate from an aviation perspective.

The final episode of the series was Airport '79 - The Concorde, which was the last and widely considered the poorest effort of the series. The cast was high profile but perhaps not as stellar as the previous movies - Robert Wagner, Susan Blakely and Silvia Kristel starred, as well as George Kennedy. The film did less well than the others, and the disaster movie era was winding to a close by this time. In a chilling coincidence, many of the flying sequences in this movie use the Air France Concorde F-BTSC which crashed in Paris in July 2000 killing all on board.

The final death-knell of the entire genre was the release of the first of the spoof series Airplane the following year.

See Also: List of movies - List of actors - List of directors - List of documentaries - List of Hollywood movie studios