Top 10 Disaster Films Of All Time


Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,114
14
198
>Did it have a part where a crazy skinny guy pulled a plug out of and outlet and accidentally kill the power.

No, but "Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking" is there, and so is the doctor advising the stewardess "Try to find someone who can fly the plane~ but don't cause a panic." A man offers a prim woman a hit from his flask and gets an icy "certainly not!" "Because of my mistake, six men didn't return from that mission" (and you secretly hope to hear Linda Darnell say "Seven. Lieutenant Zipp died this morning.") "That's what I've been telling you. I have NO experience flying this sort of plane!" is there, but the Robert Stack character does not say "Oh s. There's no WAY he can land this thing. Why dont we route them into Lake Michigan- avoid killing innocent people" into the open microphone. And, the long stupid monologue from the final scene, beginning with "That was the sloppiest landing in the history of this airport. But there are a lot of guys who want to shake your hand and buy you a drink...." is intact.

When it comes out on DVD next week, find a copy!
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
4,986
221
193
We oldies remember Morning Departure, which is about the peacetime loss of a British submarine. It's from the era of ANTR. Not spectacular, but gritty.
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,046
59
208
UK
Jim, I can clearly remember watching Zero Hour in the local fleapit when it was first released (the advantage of being geriatric!) and, like the rest of the audience, being enthralled by what we all thought was an excellent drama. But perhaps our judgement was suspect. We also marvelled at the special effects in Creature from the Black Lagoon, and thought Jerry Lewis was the funniest man on Earth. :)

For me, the best moment in all the mainstream Airport movies is in Airport '79, when George Kennedy (I think) wards off pursuing jet fighters by opening a cockpit window(!) on the Concorde and leaning out to fire a pistol at them. With his other hand steering, if I remember right.
.
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,046
59
208
UK
Dave, Morning Departure and ANTR have quite a lot in common. Roy Ward Baker, who directed both films, preferred to work with serious drama based on real-life events and situations. The films have a similarity of 'atmosphere', not just from the Director's touch but also from having the same art director (Alex Vetchinsky) and in each case a William Alwyn score. Neither won the BAFTA award for Best British Film - but at least Morning Departure got a nomination, which suggests that the members of the British Academy thought more highly of it.
.
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,114
14
198
>being enthralled by what we all thought was an excellent drama. But perhaps our judgement was suspect.

Well...it is actually a better paced, more competently plotted drama than Titanic,(1997) so your judgement was not all that bad! It was just knee-capped by the worst dialogue ever to appear in a drama. "Go back into the passenger compartment. Try to find someone who can land the plane. But you mustn't start a panic." when said with a straight face has no equal in screen history. All that it took to make the jump into comedy was having the stewardess make the announcement "We've run into a little problem in the cockpit. But, don't worry, everything is under control. By the way, is there anyone on board who can fly a plane?" But, unlike the elephantine Titanic, there is not a wasted second onscreen and it makes one nostalgic for a time when the concept of 'pace' was still grasped.

>the best moment in all the mainstream Airport movies

I like seeing Brenda Vaccaro punch Lee Grant, myself. The musical interlude between the singing flying nun and Linda Blair as the girl kidney patient (which turned up in Airplane)was a special moment. Gloria Swanson, at 175 years old, hurtling down an escape chute at 150MPH and briefly exposing her white cotton old lady panties is something most film buffs never dreamed they would see. Monica Lewis playing the world's oldest stewardess in Airport 1977 is only surpassed by Monica Lewis as the jazz singer in Airport 1979 ("Tell me the truth, am I losing it?" she asks after singing and not a soul says "need you ask?") and let us not forget Christopher Norris as the rookie stewardess not afraid to shoot down Eric Estrada's attempts at sexual harassment. So many wonderful memories. I'm sorry the series ended with the 1970s.

Back to Zero Hour- part of its weird appeal is similar to that of the Poseidon Adventure. Had bad actors been delivering the beyond bad dialogue, the film would have sunk like a stone. But, since Dana Andrews and Linda Darnell and most of the supporting cast actually turn in credible performances, it becomes hilarious to watch. Every leaden bomb of a line is delivered with the utmost sincerity by people who obviously have a lot invested in their respective performances. Sad to see is that Linda's once remarkable good looks had faded quite a bit by 1957~ shot from straight on she was still stunning, but in profile she looked sadly like Divine.
 
Feb 14, 2011
2,447
3
68
The 1970s were an interesting time- there were a slew of good- and dreadful disaster movies that decade, films such as
'The Poseidon Adventure', 'Towering Inferno', 'Earthquake, 'Airport', & 'Airport 77'.

One film I really liked was 'Airport 77'. The storyline was an implausible chesnut that involved a hijacked jetplane crashing into the ocean in the Bermuda triangle. Rather than being obliterated on impact, it sank perfectly intact. The jet sank in 100 feet of water, yet somehow the entire cabin remained watertight..

It was Jack Lemon's shining role!
Jack proved to be the be the greatest character actor-turned leading man since Gene Hackman's role in 'The Poseidon Adventure'.
(although Gene Hackman's greatest role was the blind man in 'Young Frankenstein'.)

"The Poseidon Adventure" was a classic-I have a hard time accepting Ernest Borgnine as a foul mouthed bully though, as to me he'll always be the mild mannered butcher we saw in the 1955 multi Oscar nominated film 'Marty'.
At least Ernest didn't have a nude scene....
It's hard enough trying to picture Ernest Borgnine and his one time bride Ethel Merman in the heat of passion- THAT would have been a disaster film...
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,046
59
208
UK
"Go back into the passenger compartment. Try to find someone who can land the plane. But you mustn't start a panic." That sounds perfectly reasonably to a matinee audience of 10-year olds, Jim. For weeks afterwards the film was re-enacted in the school playground. The kid chosen to play the aircraft would run round in circles with his arms outstretched while making suitable engine noises. The rest of us ran behind, waiting for the moment when the snakehead looked over his shoulder and shouted in a very bad American accent "We're all gonna die unless one of you can fly and didn't have the fish & chips." At that moment in theory one of us was supposed to rush forward while most of the others clutched their stomachs and competed to deliver oscar-winning death throws. But generally the designated hero would be overtaken by at least ten other kids who would run to the front shouting stuff like "I can fly Lancaster bombers and I had toad-in-the-hole". Usually the biggest kid won. And that's the way it should have been in the film. That's the trouble with the movies, they never imitate life.
.
 

Paul Rogers

Member
Nov 30, 2000
1,244
2
168
56
West Sussex, UK
I have always felt that the best bit of Airplane! was the outside shots of the plane itself. If you listen, you can hear that the jet plane is tootling along to the sound of WWII-style propellor engine noises. Never fails to bring a smile to my face!

"I just want to tell you both good luck. We're all counting on you."
 
Jan 28, 2003
2,525
5
168
Now what's that follow-up air disaster movie where the jumbo is in a collision with a small plane, and Karen Black (the stewardess) is in charge (all pilots dead or unconscious) until someone else is airlifted through a hole in the wrecked cockpit to land it safely to massive passenger applause?

Karen Black's eyes had a slight squint, and in the Regal cinema we had loads of facial close-ups of her emoting alarmingly in the cockpit, and everyone's eyes started watering as we blinked in empathy. Ludicrous tale, of course, but I just remember poor old Karen. What happened to her career?
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,114
14
198
Monica- that was Airport 1975.

Paul- both of those plot devices are lifted from Zero Hour.

Dan Andrews, who played Ted Stryker in Zero Hour, also portrayed the pilot who has a heart attack and crashes his plane into the jet in Airport 1975.

A classic Zero Hour interlude that did not make the jump into Airplane is Janet-the-stewardess handing out vomit bags and administering ipecacs to passengers hoping t "bring up the fish" before it does any more damage. Another demented moment comes when the pilot, Sterling Hayden, broadcasts the emergency warning to ground control and then, after a dramatic pause, says "Doc...I ate the fish." Doc gives him a classic pep talk ("Dont worry......it MIGHT not happen to you.....these things effect everyone differently.... you'll be fine....") in the most unconvincing "sincere" voice you've ever heard. One fully expects his nose to begin growing, Pinocchio style, as in Airplane.

Bob- Playground re-enactments are a dying art form. In my day, girls invariably reenacted the previous week's episode of Charlie's Angels, while boys invariably recreated C.H.I.P.S. Boys who actually wanted to be girls were invariably drawn into the elaborate playground ballets composed by the girls who did not aspire to Charlie's Angels like excitement and instead chose to recreate, through dance, songs with linear storylines like "Run, Joey, Run" "Billy, Don't Be A Hero" or "The Night Chicago Died." Dozens of girls singing "Run Joey Run" in non-harmonic unison while the prettiest girl and most fey boy danced the plotline is a memory that still causes me to wake up screaming in the dead of night.
 
Jan 28, 2003
2,525
5
168
Well, having looked at Karen Black's CV on ImD, I think she's done very well, and continues to do so, even as a comparatively old lady. Which is nice. Two days ago I just found out that Jane Russell is still with us - having recently just bought and much enjoyed "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes". I was really pleased to discover this. Mind you, the book was better....

More about these tough old girls, please!
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,046
59
208
UK
The problem with Karen Black was that in a group shot you could never be quite sure who she was talking to. Whichever way she faced, she was looking in several directions.

Ah, Jane Russell. Long before anybody had heard of that blonde that gentlemen preferred, Jane's famous 'haystack' photo was one the three 'most-requested' by US servicemen pining for home comforts during WW2. But my favourite Jane Russell anecdote is really a Howard Hughes anecdote (and probably untrue like most anecdotes). Hughes of course had trouble with the Breen Office (the Hollywood censorship bureau) with many scenes in The Outlaw, particularly those in which Miss Russell's distinctive features were well to the fore. One particular line of script to which they objected was "You borrowed from me; now I borrowed your gal". Hughes re-submitted the scene with the offending line changed to "Tit for tat". On reflection, the censors relented and approved the original version.
.
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,046
59
208
UK
All of these airplane dramas would be much improved if they left in the out-takes, which are always the best bits. Especially that scene in Flying Leathernecks where John Wayne's stirring action at 20,000 feet is interrupted by a stagehand strolling casually past the cockpit. "Cut! There's a guy walking across the sky!"
 
Feb 24, 2004
907
2
86
Hi, Bob!

>>The problem with Karen Black was that in a group shot you could never be quite sure who she was talking to. Whichever way she faced, she was looking in several directions.

Ouch! Double ouch!! Well, sir, there's an old Sea Chantey/Music Hall number ("The Drummer and the Cook") with the memorable line: "...With her one eye on the pot and the other up the chimney..."

%-)

Roy
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,114
14
198
Karen Black. Seeing her name in the credits of a film made before about 1986 guarantees an over the top good time. Who among us can forget her in Trilogy of Terror? The classic segment was, of course, her doing battle with the homicidal Zuni Fetish Doll, but her as the frumpy teacher being sexually blackmailed by one of her teenage male students (who pays a horrible price) is not to be sold short, either. And, Burnt Offerings. Remember- stupid family moves into run down mansion that repairs itself every time someone gets hurt, and uses death as a means of large-scale renovation? Bette Davis plays the sort of irritating "bursting with life" old person that Ruth Gordon ruined many a film portraying, and the house slowly drains her life force, leaving her an elderly shell. When the mansion finally succeeds in killing her~ and not a moment too soon since "Aunt Elizabeth" is monumentally annoying~ it celebrates by giving itself a new paint job. Karen Black stands by and watches, strangely unsympathetic. With the skill of Ty Pennington, the house finally drops a chimney atop Karen Black's son and frightens Oliver Reed so badly he jumps to his death from a third floor window, which not only leaves the house pristinely restored but also wonderfully landscaped. And Karen Black ends up trapped as the evil spirit that lives in the attic. Makes not a bit of sense, but fun to watch.

Still, Stewardess Nancy Pryor was her career high.
 
May 27, 2007
3,917
3
0
>>Playground re-enactments are a dying art form.<< I remember playing the Dukes of Hazard. Star Wars was another big one on the playbill. Of course all the Girls and wannabes did Dynasty or Dallas. We even did S.O.S Titanic Part One and then Raise The Titanic Part Two of let's play Titanic everyone. Airplane we're all gonna die. I always ended up the villain
 

Similar threads