This last film in the 'Airport 'series ends fast - with an SST (supersonic transport); Concorde. Joe Patroni (George Kennedy) Murray deal with nuclear missiles being fired at the'speed-bird... See full summary »
Construction Engineer Stuart Graff is estranged from his jealously possessive wife, Remy, and has an affair with Denise Marshall, the widow of a co-worker. Meanwhile, Remy tries to persuade her father, Sam Royce, who is Stuart's employer, to use his influence to stop Stuart from seeing Denise. Rogue policeman Lew Slade is suspended from the L.A.P.D. for having punched an obtuse officer from another jurisdiction. Embittered, Slade contemplates quitting the police force. Jody, a perverted grocery store manager, lusts after Rosa Amici, sister of Sal, the assistant to Miles Quade, an aspiring daredevil motor cyclist. The lives of all these people are devastated when a major earthquake rips through Los Angeles and reduces the city to ruins.Written by
Kevin McCorry <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Some of the scenes of panicking extras in the movie theater is footage from Torn Curtain (1966). See more »
In the "TV Version," the airliner is cleared to land on runway 25 left; the footage shows it actually lands on runway 13. See more »
Now, Rosa, would you listen to me. Daredevil motorcyclists always have to have beautiful, sexy broads hangin' around.
Rosa, I'm your best friend. What do you want us to look like? Phonies or what?
Sal, I'm your sister! What about Maureen? She's your girlfriend.
Come on, Rosa. Maureen is too flat-chested!
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For the initial network television showing broadcast on NBC in September 1976, additional footage was shot to lengthen the film in order to show it over two nights. The most extensive segment of new footage is a subplot of a newlywed couple (Debralee Scott and Sam Chew Jr.) on a flight to Los Angleles so the husband can interview for a job with Stuart Graff (Charlton Heston). The plane tries to land as the earthquake hits, but the pilots are able to regain control and fly away before the runway breaks up. Other significant segments are new scenes with Jody (Marjoe Gortner) and Rosa (Victoria Principal), which establish Jody's obsession with Rosa, as well as one short scene in a pawn shop with Buck (Jesse Vint) and Hank (Michael Richardson), who play Marjoe's roommates in the theatrical version. Contrary to popular belief, these additional scenes were *not* "leftover" footage from the original 1974 theatrical release. Rather, the footage was filmed almost two years later by NBC to expand the film. These additional scenes were shot without the original director Mark Robson, who opted out, (in fact, he loathed the additional scenes), but they were shot with Universal's approval. In addition, two deleted scenes originally shot for the theatrical release were re-inserted into the television version, including a narrative opening about the San Andreas Fault, as well as a scene of Rosa brushing off a guy (Reb Brown) trying to give her a ride on his motorcycle. Incidentally, the version frequently running on the American cable channel "American Movie Classics" is the television version, and not the original theatrical version. See more »
Ludicrous disaster epic about the razing of LA, with Chuck a top brass engineer who's marriage to bibulously bloated bosses' daughter Gardner drives him to make expressively "angry" love to starlet Bujold, until Earth's Final Fury steps in to sort out his conjugal priorities. Chuck's got his shades though, so he's ready for anything. Elsewhere, put-upon cop Kennedy is having a bad day because he's mown down Zsa Zsa Gabor's hedge, and a pre-Dallas Principal has the unfortunate crosses to bear of a 2-storey afro (the only structure undisturbed by the quake) and the unwanted attentions of crackpot SAS commander Gortner.
Par for the genre's course, death-defying rescues amidst the sawdust and tinsel is very much the order of the day, but here connected by much bizarrely incongruous throwaway padding involving everyone castwise from Kennedy downwards. There are faint intimations that this could be self-reflexive parody, but given that facetious rock bottom is hit with an unintelligible Walter Matthau's "cameo" as an inebriated barfly (who's decision to go incommunicado under his real Panavision-necessitating surname must surely have come about after seeing the finished product), I very much doubt it.
Save for Kennedy's derisory aside "Earthquakes bring out the worst in people", the film has absolutely nothing to say about the psychology of societal collapse; or why, post 9/11, we continue to enjoy watching tall things falling down with people still in them. But any movie in which a pantomime Gardner's first line is "Goddammit!" can't be a total lost cause. And after her and Chuck's opening domestic tussle, which would come pretty close to John Waters, had he yet gained mainstream acceptance and managed to persuade Liz Taylor to star for him - "Of course i'll induce vomiting, I know the rules by now!" - the film finally delivers 2 hours of not-so-solid (like it's "40-storey monstrosities") entertainment value. Even if after all is said and done with the laugh-a-minute dialogue, the Incredible Upside Down Cows, the cartoon blood in the liftshaft, Gardner playing Lorne Greene's DAUGHTER which meant he would have had her at 7 years old etc etc etc, the movie ends up nothing but its own 'Airplane!'.
Sole aesthetic virtue is its naturalistic sound editing (which understandably won that year's Oscar) and subterranean bass pitch which, combined with the short-lived cinematic 'wonder' of Sensurround - ie earthquake-simulating theaters - meant that certain moviegoers got to join in the vicarious fun of mass panic and devastation.
If like me, you like this film for precisely the wrong reasons, you will want to seek out its Japanese rival 'Jishin Retto' (1980) for no doubt 'hours' of endlessly fascinating film-studyish comparison...
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