Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Airport '77

Thanks so much to Realweegiemidget for inviting me to take part in this Lee Grant blogathon, although I was reluctant to participate. Longtime readers of my blog will know that I focus on terrible films, or documentaries that explore various subjects in Forteana. Glancing briefly at Lee Grant's filmography, I would be totally out of my element, considering she has been nominated for an Academy Award four times (winning for Shampoo). As far as I can tell, she has never appeared in a film where she is shown crouched behind a boulder in the woods searching for Bigfoot, although she did once get attacked by killer bees.

Ooh, I'm going to have to bookmark this one for later.

My fears were proven misplaced. Case in point: Behold her appearance in the Bermuda Triangle-themed disaster film Airport '77, which fits at least two of my criteria for review, one: the fortean phenomena of The Bermuda Triangle, and two: Airport '77 is pretty darn bad.

A star-studded, sideburned, Dry Look-ed, disaster extravaganza, Airport '77's complicated plot involves the heist of several paintings and other valuables stowed in the belly of an improbably huge plane, as the crooks attempt to steal these items through the use of costume changes, toupees, and knockout gas, which causes the plane to crash into the Bermuda Triangle. 

An improbably huge 3-story jumbo jet filled to bursting with Rembrandts, vintage wines, and antique autos warehoused in its cargo hold, this plane is outfitted with offices, a surprisingly turbulence-proof and chockful-of-breakables lounge area, unseen-but-mentioned sleeping rooms, a laserdisc player, and a table-top Pong video game. Could a plane like this exist? Could it manage to get off the ground? I don't know, and I don't want to do the research to find out. Don't @ me, because I really can't be bothered to care.

Standing out amongst a crowd of stars, one really can't stop watching Lee Grant, and she devastates everyone in eyeshot with more than a few withering glares. It's obvious who the queen is on this flight, so you'd better watch yourself Olivia De Havilland. Ms. Grant is impeccably pantsuited, and brooched within an inch of her life. She requires one brooch on her outerwear, and one brooch underneath.

Mrs. Deathrage commented that this film resembles a 'QVC in the skies'.

Air traffic controllers lose radar contact with the flight, which results in someone tapping the glass screen of the radar (if I recall correctly, this often was a logical fix with cathode-ray TVs at the time), and shrugging their shoulders because, 'Well, they're in the Bermuda Triangle', and that sort of thing often happens with flights, I guess. 

During the painting theft, where the thieves choose between which priceless masterpiece they'd rather burgle with no real place to go, the plane seems to skim across the surface of the ocean in some rather convenient Bermuda Triangle fog, and the plane clips one of those smack-dab-in-the-middle of the Bermuda Triangle oil rigs. The plane's engines flame out, causing someone to crash through plate glass, someone else to fall down the jet's spiral staircase, someone else to get steamrolled by a grand piano, someone else to fly through an intricately carved wooden partition, and someone else to get beaned by a champaign chiller, resulting in some unintentional hilarity.

The plane settles into the bottom of the ocean, everyone becomes remarkably teary-eyed, and Christopher Lee carries an injured passenger past some obvious camera shadows. Then Darren McGavin grabs a handful of soggy shag carpeting.

After a partially successful attempt to release an inflatable raft to the surface, where we're judging the success of the attempt on the ratio of survivors, Christopher Lee's lifeless corpse drifts past the aircraft's windows, causing someone to offer an inconsolable Lee Grant a beverage, and by that I mean they forcefully pour the contents of a mini bottle of J&B down her throat. Lee Grant somnambulantly tries to open the door of the plane, and Brenda Vaccaro decks her, keeping the remaining passengers alive for a few minutes.

Suddenly, the navy shows up, and Mrs. Deathrage comments on the rescuers' short-shorts. The threat that a coxswain might appear is very real.

Meanwhile, the survivors in the plane break out in a sweat, but I doubt it has anything to do with the short-shorts. 

The film ends in a clown-car like fashion, where dozens of people escape the re-sinking of the plane in a frantic fashion, most of whom I don't recall seeing in the previous two-hours of film while Jimmy Stewart looks off into the distance with a look on his face as though he's pinched a nerve. 

Featuring some fairly convincing underwater footage and startling special effects where several Academy Award winners and nominees are threatened with actual drowning, Airport '77 is surprisingly watchable for something so awful. Lee Grant is magnetic throughout, and is compelling even when the script isn't. Not to be outdone, Olivia De Havilland's blue eyeshadow and oversized sunglasses should have been nominated for dueling Supporting Actor Oscars.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Giant From The Unknown

My career has been using the rest of my life as a speed bump, so I'm kicking out some freaked out jams, pushing myself to the limit physically with yoga and T25 as a distraction, burning too much incense to dispel rancorous vapors, getting my diet straight (no more snack cakes?), and trying to plan several family vacations because if I don't take a vacation soon I might flip my gourd. Again. I've been saying this too much lately.

After being nominated to do one of those "10 Films in 10 Days" twitter things where I commented that I'm probably the worst person to do that because I 'have crap taste, the attention span of a two-year old, and a complete inability to follow simple instructions', my dodgy memory was jogged, and  I remembered that I never finished watching Giant From The Unknown because I collapsed in a heap in my chair from physical and mental exhaustion, and I never finished writing the review.

Full disclosure: I never plan on watching this film to its conclusion, and you can't make me. My memories of the film are foggy at best, so just try to keep up. 

Two archaeologists I guess and a typical 50s female love interest with no visible personality whose only attributes seem to be the ability to cook and clean for the male leads hunt for a giant murderous conquistador supposedly in this desperately awful horror film.

The male archaeologist points at a map and says "It should be here" which is where he found some sort of Spanish cross on his expedition, and the map has a big X on it that reads "Cross found here", which is always helpful. Meanwhile the love-interest daughter stays behind at the camp to cook and clean because what else could she possibly be good for except the pivotal discovery of the plot point of the film?

After sweeping the area with a metal detector, the daughter checks her appearance in her compact because accidental archaeology demands a crisp lip-line. After she leaves the compact on a log, a conquistador helmet is found under a thin layer of soil. Science!

After a montage of found artifacts, a conquistador skeleton is found with a gasp. No, a gasp didn't find it, someone found it and gasped. I just said she used a metal detector. Jeez. Please stay focused.

Some stock thunder and lightning effects are shown, then the giant conquistador which is not at all a decomposed 400-year old skeleton rises from beneath a suspiciously convenient log. More easily-accessed metal artifacts are found beneath some fallen leaves because I think that's where the art director left them.

The male lead archaeologist and the love-interest daughter stand in front of a matte painting of a lake for romance because when true love strikes like a stock effect bolt-from-the-blue, no expense is spared except in this and every other aspect of this movie.

The giant conquistador gets an eyeful of the daughter's bullet-brassiered silhouette as she changes clothes in her illuminated tent (va-va-voom, you saucy conquistador!), which causes her to accidentally shoot a hole in her cot with a gun.

At this point, I fell asleep, and wandered away forever from this film. I'm assuming everything turned out for the best, but I really don't care that much, and I'd rather you didn't tell me the ending.