Starring: Burt Lancaster, Jean Seberg, Dean Martin
Director: George Seaton
Running Time: 137 mins
Airport is an American film about the day-to-day operations of a Chicago airport up against the odds in the middle of a heavy snowstorm, as errant passengers and cancelled flights cause chaos for the airport’s bosses.
One of the first in a long line of 1970s disaster movies starring Hollywood A-listers, Airport is a thoroughly enjoyable movie, complete with an entertaining cast of characters, some good blockbuster action and an enjoyably hyperbolic look into the day-to-day workings of an airport. The film does at times feel a little stationary for a big Hollywood blockbuster, but for the most part, it still delivers solid fun from start to finish.
There’s a lot to like about Airport, but the biggest positive comes in the form of the film’s brilliant ensemble cast. Starring Burt Lancaster, Jean Seberg, Dean Martin, Jacqueline Bisset, Helen Hayes and more, the film is chock-a-block with famous names from 1970s’ Hollywood, and all are great value here.
Top-billed Lancaster, Martin and Seberg are all great leads, and offer a good blend of Hollywood theatrics and level-headed, no-nonsense competence in the middle of a day of chaos at their airport. The star of the show, however, has to be Helen Hayes, who hilariously plays a mischievous elderly woman who sneaks her way onto planes all around the USA.
Hayes is the embodiment of what’s really great about Airport as a film. She’s funny, plays a rather silly character, and still seems grounded enough in reality for the movie not to turn into a full-blown comedy.
There’s no denying that Airport presents the most melodramatic view of life running an airport, with seemingly every bit of chaos unfolding in just a matter of hours, and almost all around one flight. However, the film manages to strike a nice balance between fun-loving, blockbuster action and a slightly more level-headed look at its subject matter.
As a result, the film does still offer an engaging look at the inner workings of an airport, from controlling the runways to dealing with passengers and everything in between, even if everybody on screen is working on the highest state of alert throughout.
Coupled with a good bit of action and an entertaining high-wire third act, there’s a lot of fun to be had with Airport, although it isn’t always the brilliant blockbuster that it ought to be.
That’s because, in the first two acts at least, the film feels really rather stationary for what could be a big, action-packed blockbuster. Sure, the film’s name is Airport, not Airplane!, so it’s understandable why everything takes place in one location, however it does hurt the film’s pace, which does occasionally drag over its two-and-a-quarter-hour runtime.
Incidentally, fans of classic comedy Airplane! will love a lot of the details in Airport, many of which were the butt of the jokes in the deliriously funny Airplane!.
Overall, then, I enjoyed Airport quite a lot. Though not a perfect movie, the film is a thoroughly entertaining blockbuster with good action, fun characters, great performances and some interesting insight into life at an airport. It’s an unashamedly melodramatic and hyperbolic movie, but it’s a lot of fun to watch, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.4.