Wednesday, 6 February 2008
A Successful Disaster
I was browsing through HMV the other day, seeing what special offers they had, and came home with the box set of "Airport" (1969), "Airport 1975", "Airport 1977" and "Airport 1979" (only £15). I've never seen any of these films. I've seen some of the imitations and spoofs, but never these films. I've always imagined they wouldn't be very good.
So the other night I watched the first one. I was very pleasantly surprised. Unlike, say, "The Poseidon Adventure" or "Towering Inferno", there's a lot of (intentional) fun - the old biddy who's pretty much a professional stowaway, for example. And it was nice to see Myrna Loy and Jessie Royce Landis.
The disaster is caused by a man trying to pull off an insurance fraud. He takes out life insurance then gets on a transatlantic flight carrying a bomb, intent on detonating it once they're over the water.
He is spotted by an eagle-eyed customs official, but by the time they find out he's just bought insurance, the plane is in the air. However, they get the insurance company to void the policy, and tell the desperate man that, but he blows himself up anyway, taking the toilet with him.
Since the idea of a plane load of people on an 8 hour flight with no toilet doesn't appeal, not to mention the problems caused by having a large hole in the fuselage, they decide they'd better make an emergency landing back where they started (Chicago). But, just for a change, it's snowing there and in addition they've got a plane stuck on the runway.
The would-be suicide frauster could have saved everyone a lot of trouble if he'd seen "Double Indemnity" - he could have just thrown himself off a train. But presumably he couldn't afford to go to the cinema because he was saving all his money for a plane ticket.
He got the explosives for his bomb from his last job on a building site. You'd have thought that the easiest thing of all would have been to stage some kind of industrial "accident", but unfortunately he couldn't stick any job long enough to manage that.
One interesting thing I noticed was how little flying appeared to have changed in the last 40 or so years. Other than airport security, of course. Hopefully someone with a briefcase full of dynamite would get stopped sooner...