They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore. Airport is an incredibly entertaining film (in a soap opera-ish kind of way) about twelve hours in the life of a Chicago airport. If you’re watching it just for the airplane disaster part, you’ll have to wait until the movie’s half over before the plane gets into the air. From that point on, though, it’s pretty much a slow, non-stop ratcheting-up of suspense.
The cast is awesome as well: Burt Lancaster is the airport manager who’s having marital problems with his wife, Dana Wynter, and is just skirting having an affair with another of the airport’s employees, Jean Seberg. His sister, Barbara Hale, is married to pilot Dean Martin, who’s having an affair with stewardess Jacqueline Bisset. Helen Hayes is a little old lady stowaway, Maureen Stapleton is married to demolitions expert Van Heflin (who carries a bomb on board the plane), who gave Lloyd Nolan as a customs agent bad vibes, and George Kennedy is Joe Patrioni, who is the king of the ground crews. There’s a lot more going on, but I don’t want to spoil anything for you.
Based on the bestseller by Arthur Hailey, Airport was a big hit for Universal in 1970—so big that it eventually spawned three sequels of varying competence. Give Airport a shot if you’ve never seen it—it’s a working definition of a popcorn movie.
Here’s the trailer from YouTube: