The Concorde…Airport ’79 (1979)

George Kennedy in Airport 79.

Directed by: David Lowell Rich
Starring: George Kennedy, Alain Delon, Susan Blakely, Robert Wagner, Sylvia Kristel

If you’ve been looking for a film where one character dies after getting run over by the Concorde, look no further: Airport ’79 is that movie. And the runway incident is just one of many senseless features in this, the fourth and last installment of the famous Airport series.

This time the plot is downright silly. It all revolves around a TV reporter, played by Susan Blakely, who finds out that a wealthy industrialist – who also happens to be her boyfriend – has been involved in illegal arms trading. Susan is about to board the Concorde bound for Moscow via Paris when she gets the documents proving the dirty arms deals delivered into her hands by a woman in a wheelchair who comes rolling out of nowhere. Mr Evil Industrialist, played by Robert Wagner, promises to meet Susan in Paris to explain everything, while secretly planning to silence her in the most discrete way imaginable: by blowing the Concorde up with a missile.

George Kennedy, mainstay of the Airport films, has gone from aircraft mechanic to Concorde pilot, and demonstrates through a series of dramatic rolls and loops that the Concorde can outmanoeuver any jet fighter, not to mention computer-guided missiles.

Robert Wagner’s plot fails. During the stopover in Paris, he meets up with Susan Blakely but fails to convince her of his innocence. Susan breaks up with him, telling him she will expose him – once she gets to Moscow, that is. Meanwhile, George Kennedy, still sad and lonely since his wife died a year ago, sleeps with a French hooker played by frequent Ingmar Bergman collaborator Bibi Andersson.

When the plane takes off for Moscow, Wagner’s henchmen have installed a gizmo that makes the cargo hatch open in midair, causing great big hole being torn open in the belly of the aircraft. Luckily, George Kennedy and his co-pilot Alain Delon manage to land the Concorde on a mountainside in the Alps, where – fortunately – a complete rescue team is waiting to evacuate the passengers before the plane explodes.

This absurd plot is enhanced by really cheap-looking visual effects and a bunch of crap jokes. Just about every character is quite annoying. Among others, we meet a team of Russian gymnasts on their way home, and a few musicians headed for a jazz festival in Moscow (as we all know, the Soviet Union in the 1970’s was a real jazz hotspot). The only passenger worth remembering is Jimmie Walker, who kind of reminds me of Snoop Dogg, and spends a good part of the journey in the bathroom, smoking weed.

Frequently, Airport ’79 feels like watching a parody of a disaster movie. A disappointing end to an entertaining series.

Rating: 1/5

7 Responses

  1. Nick Warren says:

    Let me just say this movie is like HOWARD THE DUCK, its so bad and cheesy you will have the laugh riot of your life! THE Concorde suffers more adversity than Penelope Pitstop in this epic disaster from the director of SST DEATH FLIGHT and HORROR AT 37000 FEET, David Lowell Rich!!

  2. Jeremy says:

    The one thing I really remember about this movie is Martha Raye getting tossed back and forth in the aisle when the plane was experiencing some massive turbulence. I kind of enjoyed those scenes and also getting a chance to see good actors like Cicely Tyson, Eddie Albert, and Susan Blakely embarrass themselves. This film is quite the crapfest.

  3. John michels says:

    Crashed with loss of airframe and everyone on board : July 25th 2000

    Remains are stored in a hanger at Le Bourget Airport, awaiting judicial inquiry. In 1978-79 this Aircraft was the one used in the film “Airport’79 : The Concorde

    I just read this on a Concord web site…the concord that crashed in Paris was the one they used for the cover shots in this movie.

  4. Crippa says:

    That’s a nice bit of trivia. Thanks! I had no idea.

    For anyone interested in learning more, here’s a link:

  5. Jerry Scott says:

    This movie is a guilty pleasure. It is so terrible and nonsensable that I can’t help liking it. It is so enjoyably bad, it has to be my favorite bad movie.

  6. Cleo says:

    Was a couple of years shy of qualifying for the inaugural Razzie Awards.

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