Film Review – EARTHQUAKE (1974)

Image result for earthquake 1974Earthquake (1974; USA; Technicolor; 123m) **½  d. Mark Robson; w. George Fox, Mario Puzo; ph. Philip H. Lathrop; m. John Williams.  Cast: Charlton Heston, George Kennedy, Richard Roundtree, Lloyd Nolan, Walter Matthau, Ava Gardner, Genevieve Bujold, Lorne Greene, Marjoe Gortner, Barry Sullivan, Victoria Principal, Monica Lewis, Gabriel Dell, Pedro Armendariz Jr., Lloyd Gough. Various stories of various people as an earthquake of un-imagineable magnitude hits Los Angeles. A triumph of special effects over characterisation and plot. Heston plays the square-jawed hero in his usual style. Performances are variable with Gardner and Gortner particularly guilty of hamming up their roles. The finale lacks any real resolution. Oscar winner for Best Sound (Ronald Pierce, Melvin M. Metcalfe Sr.) and Special Achievement Award for visual effects (Frank Brendel, Glen Robinson, Albert Whitlock). Additional footage shot for 160m TV version. [PG]

Film Review – THE TOWERING INFERNO (1974)

Image result for THE TOWERING INFERNOTowering Inferno, The (1974; USA; DeLuxe; 165m) ****  d. John Guillermin; w. Stirling Silliphant; ph. Fred J. Koenekamp; m. John Williams.  Cast: Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Richard Chamberlain, Susan Blakely, Jennifer Jones, Robert Wagner, Robert Vaughn, O.J. Simpson, Susan Flannery, Sheila Allen, Jack Collins, Norman Burton. At the opening party of a collosal, but poorly constructed, office building, a massive fire breaks out that threatens to destroy the tower and everyone in it. Along with producer Irwin Allen’s THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, this is the best example of the 1970s disaster genre. A stellar cast – notably Newman and McQueen – adds considerably to the familiar elements. Top-class production values and excellent score by Williams. Won Oscars for Best Cinematography; Film Editing and Original Song (Al Kasha, Joel Hirschhorn for the song “We May Never Love Like This Again”). Jennifer Jones’s final film. Based on the novels “The Tower” by Richard Martin Stern and “The Glass Inferno” by Thomas N. Scortia and Frank M. Robinson. [PG]

Film Review – THE CONCORDE… AIRPORT ’79 (1979)

Image result for airport 79Concorde … Airport ’79, The (1979; USA; Technicolor; 113m) *  d. David Lowell Rich; w. Eric Roth, Jennings Lang; ph. Philip H. Lathrop; m. Lalo Schifrin.  Cast: Alain Delon, Robert Wagner, Susan Blakely, George Kennedy, Sylvia Kristel, Eddie Albert, Bibi Andersson, Charo, Martha Raye, Cicely Tyson, John Davidson, Andrea Marcovicci, Jimmie Walker, David Warner, Mercedes McCambridge. This film is the last of the AIRPORT genre which stars Kennedy who has to contend with nuclear missiles, the French Air Force and the threat of the plane splitting in two over the Alps! Nonsensical final entry in the series is dragged down by preposterous scenario, risible and often embarrassing dialogue and wooden performances. The series was laid to rest with this one. The film reached UK theatres a year later, and was renamed upon its release there. Raye’s final feature film. [PG]

Film Review – AIRPORT ’77 (1977)

Image result for airport 77Airport ’77 (1977; USA; Technicolor; 114m) ***  d. Jerry Jameson; w. Michael Scheff, David Spector; ph. Philip H. Lathrop; m. John Cacavas.  Cast: Jack Lemmon, Lee Grant, George Kennedy, James Stewart, Brenda Vaccaro, Joseph Cotten, Olivia de Havilland, Darren McGavin, Christopher Lee, Robert Foxworth, Robert Hooks, Monte Markham, Kathleen Quinlan, Gil Gerard, James Booth. Art thieves hijack a 747, hit fog and crash into the ocean, trapping them and the passengers under 100 feet of water. Strong cast adds value to this third entry in the series. Good production values and a tense final act overcome the by now obvious characters and familiar situations. Developed from a story by H.A.L. Craig and Charles Kuenstle. Network TV version added one-hour of additional footage. Followed by THE CONCORDE… AIRPORT ’79 (1979). [PG]

Film Review – AIRPORT 1975 (1974)

Image result for airport 1975Airport 1975 (1974; USA; Technicolor; 107m) **  d. Jack Smight; w. Don Ingalls; ph. Philip H. Lathrop; m. John Cacavas.  Cast: Charlton Heston, Karen Black, George Kennedy, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Susan Clark, Helen Reddy, Linda Blair, Dana Andrews, Roy Thinnes, Sid Caesar, Myrna Loy, Ed Nelson, Nancy Olson, Larry Storch, Martha Scott, Guy Stockwell, Erik Estrada, Austin Stoker, Sharon Gless, Gloria Swanson. A 747 in flight collides with a small plane, and is rendered pilotless. Somehow the control tower must get a pilot aboard so the jet can land. A bland script uses every cliché in the book and invents a few more. Heston and Kennedy struggle manfully to rise above the material whilst a star-studded supporting cast gamely deliver the lame dialogue. Some nice airborne footage and a reasonably tense rescue attempt aside, this would become the basis for numerous parodies. Swanson’s final film. Followed by AIRPORT ’77 (1977). [PG]

Film Review – SULLY (2016)

Image result for sully blu-raySully (2016; USA; Colour; 96m) ∗∗∗½  d. Clint Eastwood; w. Todd Komarnicki; ph. Tom Stern; m. Christian Jacob, Tierney Sutton Band.  Cast: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Anna Gunn, Autumn Reeser, Sam Huntington, Jerry Ferrara, Jeff Kober, Chris Bauer, Holt McCallany, Carla Shinall, Lynn Marocola, Max Adler, Valerie Mahaffey, Ashley Austin Morris, Michael Rapaport. Based on the true story of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who safely crash-landed a plane on the Hudson River in 2009. Efficiently made account of the investigation that followed. Hanks adds depth and dignity to his portrayal of the everyman hero, whilst Eastwood’s no-fuss direction ensures there is no Hollywood-isation of the story. Adapted from the book by Chelsey Sullenberg and Jeffrey Zaslow [12]

Film Review – DEEPWATER HORIZON (2016)

Image result for deepwater horizon blu-rayDeepwater Horizon (2016; USA; Colour; 108m) ∗∗∗½  d. Peter Berg; w. Matthew Sand, Matthew Carnahan; ph. Enrique Chediak; m. Steve Jablonsky.  Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Kate Hudson, John Malkovich, Dylan O’Brien, Gina Rodriguez, Ethan Suplee, Brad Leland, J.D. Evermore, Joe Chrest, Chris Ashworth, Jeremy Sande, Stella Allen, Michael D. Anglin, Ilan Srulovicz, Graham McGinnis, James DuMont, Douglas M. Griffin, David Maldonado. A dramatization of the April 2010 disaster when the offshore drilling rig, Deepwater Horizon, exploded and created the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Efficiently made disaster thriller. Despite occasional Hollywood-isation of events, it produces a thrilling second half. Wahlberg and Russell are excellent as are the effects and authentic production design. [12]

Film Review – TWISTER (1996)

Twister (1996; USA; Technicolor; 113m) ∗∗∗½  d. Jan de Bont; w. Michael Crichton, Anne-Marie Martin; ph. Jack N. Green; m. Mark Mancina.  Cast: Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Cary Elwes, Jami Gertz, Lois Smith, Alan Ruck, Zach Grenier, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Scott Thomson, Todd Field, Sean Whalen, Gregory Sporleder, Joey Slotnick, Wendle Josepher. Advanced storm chasers on the brink of divorce, must join together to create an advanced weather alert system by putting themselves in the cross-hairs of extremely violent tornadoes. Action-packed blockbuster may be made to look familiar through its conventional plotting, but has likeable characters and the pace never lets up. Hunt and Paxton make capable leads and the effects are top-notch. [PG]

Film Review – AIRPORT (1970)

Airport (1970; USA; Technicolor; 137m) ∗∗∗½  d. George Seaton; w. George Seaton; ph. Ernest Laszlo; m. Alfred Newman.  Cast: Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, Jean Seberg, Jacqueline Bisset, George Kennedy, Helen Hayes, Van Heflin, Maureen Stapleton, Barry Nelson, Dana Wynter, Lloyd Nolan, Barbara Hale, Gary Collins, John Findlater, Jessie Royce Landis. Melodrama about a bomber on board an airplane, an airport almost closed by snow, and various personal problems of the people involved. Oft-copied and spoofed, this may now seem overly familiar, but there is plenty of excitement and drama propelled by an energetic cast and a buoyant score. Hayes won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Henry Hathaway directed some of the outdoor winter scenes uncredited. Based on the novel by Arthur Hailey. Final film of both Heflin and Landis. AIRPORT 1975 (1974) was the first of three sequels. [PG]

Film Review – THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1972)

Poseidon Adventure, The (1972; USA; DeLuxe; 117m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Ronald Neame, Irwin Allen; w. Stirling Silliphant, Wendell Mayes; ph. Harold E. Stine; m. John Williams.  Cast: Gene Hackman, Red Buttons, Roddy McDowall, Shelley Winters, Leslie Nielsen, Arthur O’Connell, Ernest Borgnine, Carol Lynley, Stella Stevens, Jack Albertson, Pamela Sue Martin, Eric Shea, Fred Sadoff, Sheila Allen, Jan Arvan. A group of passengers struggle to survive and escape, when their ocean liner completely capsizes at sea. Following 1970s AIRPORT, this was the movie that really began the disaster cycle of the 1970s and made Irwin Allen the king of the blockbuster. It’s all-star ensemble cast ensures investment in the characters as well as the spectacle. Excellent production design and tight direction make this the standard for the genre. Won an Oscar for Best Original Song (Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn for the song “The Morning After”). Based on the novel by Paul Gallico. Followed by BEYOND THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1979) and remade for TV in 2005 and again for theatrical release as POSEIDON in 2006. [PG]