Plot: At a busy airport, any number of stories are in motion at once, as the countless passengers, pilots, and airport staff engage with each other and their personal stories unfold, both on the ground and in the air. A pilot copes with the news that a woman he toys around with has gotten pregnant, an old woman schemes to secure free air travel, and a rugged technician works to keep the planes in order, but these are just some of the tales involved here. As these people and many others cross paths in the crowded airport, some wind up on the same flight and this is one trip they will never forget. A disgruntled man is aboard the same flight, with a shabby suitcase that houses a bomb, though no one else on the plane is aware of this. What will become of this fateful flight, not to mention all the intersected lives of the airport visitors?
Entertainment Value: Airport helped launch the disaster movie boom, despite being more of a melodrama that happened to involve a bomb scare. This movie was nominated for ten Oscars, but time has turned into a this drama into a campy comedy for the most part. This is due in large part to the cast, most of whom put little to no effort into their roles, which results in disinterested, bland performances. This combines with a mostly overly melodramatic script to forge an unintentional comedy of sorts, though not one that is consistently fun to watch. The bomb thread isn’t a prominent element until the finale, the rest is more interactions between the all star cast members, with slight, often silly story lines. I mean, an old woman who sneaks on planes is a crucial narrative piece, if that tells you much. The pace is glacial at times and there’s little reason for a lot of the movie’s scenes, but there is a cheaply made charm to Airport, if just seeing so many familiar faces in one place. But if you’re looking for edge of your seat disaster cinema or a super fun, campy ride, you might be let down. As this is more a curio if its time than anything else, but it has some charm in there.
The cast is packed with famous talent, but aside from the novelty of such a star studded lineup, the volume of fame does little for Airport. Most of the cast sleepwalks through their roles, which leads to some unintended humor at times, but usually just dull efforts that don’t enhance the movie. Perhaps the emphasis on volume of names over fewer, but more interested stars bit the movie in the ass, as you can tell a good amount of these folks couldn’t care less about Airport. Helen Hayes won an Oscar for her work here, which isn’t all that memorable, but she does provide one of the more entertaining efforts in the movie. Dean Martin, Burt Lancaster, and Jean Seberg more or less just go through the motions, with Martin in particular in mediocre, sometimes even laughable form. I did think Van Heflin, Jacqueline Bisset, and Maureen Stapleton were solid, while George Kennedy is grizzled and over the top, in a fun role. But even beyond all those stars, you will recognize a wealth of familiar faces in Airport, as even small roles seem to have attracted at least fairly well known players.