Just because the movie is the first of its kind, the one to launch an entire genre, doesn't mean it has to be great. It doesn't even have to be good. It just has to be wildly popular and a box office blockbuster. Case in point: Airport, the first epically budgeted, all-star disaster vehicle that spawned a decade-long fad. Airport might not be the worst of the lot, but it is certainly the most boring.
If you're expected nail-biting suspense, you will be very disappointed. Aiport takes place at Lincoln International Airport during a blinding snow storm. Our first complication involves a jet skidding on the icy runway and getting stuck in a snow bank. It will take the entire length of the film for a digging crew, led by George Kennedy, to get the jet unstuck.
Meanwhile, the bulk of Airport takes place, well, in the airport while we slog through endless and pointless plot developments that revolve around extramarital affairs. Airport manager Burt Lancaster is unhappy in his marriage with bitchy Dana Wynter and is flirting with his secretary Jean Seberg. Dean Martin is a pilot maried to Barbara Hale who is spending most of his time getting busy with flight attendant Jacqueline Bisset. Also on hand is depressed and recently terminated Van Heflin and his wife Maureen Stapleton, as well as too-cute-for-words Helen Hayes as a stowaway.
So, these dreary characters keep talking and talking, the snow keeps falling, Kennedy keeps digging, and we wait and wait for something, anything, to happen. Airport is two-thirds of the way over before the airliner that carries our motley crew even gets off the ground and when it finally does we realize we'll be waiting even longer for the bomb Heflin is carrying on board to finally explode. The bomb does go off causing only minor damage to the jet and an eye injury to Bisset; then, of course, the jet must fly back to Lincoln and land, just missing the other jet that's been stuck in the snow. The real concern Airport has isn't the action or the disaster but whether or not all of these breaking hearts can be mended.
Despite the extremely tedious 140 minutes that is Airport, it was a massive hit and garnered 10 (10?!?) Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Hayes also snagged the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in yet another example of the Academy's usual mantra of "You're old and we like you. Here's an Oscar." Airport not only spawned three sequels, the much more exciting Airport 1975 and Airport '77, as well as the wretched Airport '79-The Concorde, but the entire disaster film genre that brought the world such highs as The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno and the lows of Earthquake, Hurricane, Avalanche, The Swarm and When Time Ran Out...
So see Airport only because of its place in film history. If you're in the mood for some cheesy fun action, you'll only get the cheese.