Starring: Dean Martin, Burt Lancaster, Jean Seberg, Jacqueline Bisset, Helen Hayes, Van Heflin (his final film), George Kennedy, Maureen Stapleton, Barry Nelson, Lloyd Nolan, Dana Wynter
Director: George Seaton
Summary: A mad bomber plots to blow up a jet on a snowy night
Other Nominations: Supporting Actress (Hayes)*, Supporting Actress (Stapleton), Adapted Screenplay, Original Score, Sound Mixing, Costume Design, Art Direction, Cinematography, Film Editing
-While the acting varies wildly, I really liked some of the performances. Hayes is easily the most memorable thing in the movie playing a wily old woman who repeatedly finds ways to stow away on flights and I can see why she won the Oscar (although I’ll be able to judge better later, as 4 of the 5 nominees were also in BP nominees). Stapleton and Kennedy don’t get a ton of screentime, but both were good as well, with Kennedy having way more fun with his role than anyone else besides Hayes.
-Most everything else. The dialogue is horrendous, it’s boring and lifeless most of the time, feeling like a really expensive B-movie from the 50s or a TV movie with the amount of cheesiness it has (including how many times they mention how amazing the Boeing 707 is, clearly as compensation for access to the planes), but somehow lacks camp value, and it does a very poor job of building suspense. While it is nice that they spent a good chunk of time with the characters before we get in the air, they’re way too many storylines for most of them to feel properly developed; we have: Heflin has a bomb on the plane (the main conflict), Martin & Bisset’s relationship and her pregnancy, the Lancaster-Seberg-Wynter love triangle, the airport trying to get one of the planes out of the snow so it stops blocking a runway, the plane noise causing pressure on the airport from locals (which gets no payoff at all) and Hayes life as a stowaway. It fails in most aspects and is one of the weakest Best Picture nominees since the mid 1930s, but it made tons of money so there you go.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jmb0IbuBowl. I’m probably being overly-harsh on this movie, but man we should be past having movies like this get BP nominations in 1970-it doesn’t even have the great disaster spectacle at the end that the 30s disasters movies San Francisco and In Old Chicago had. On the other hand, nothing about it really made me angry, and without it we would have never gotten Airplane! Here’s hoping the other disaster movie Best Picture nominee, The Towering Inferno, is better.