Category Archives: 1979

Blu-ray News #57: Airport, The Complete Collection (1970-1979).

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Universal has always been big on “franchises,” from the Universal Monsters and Ma And Pa Kettle to Back To The Future and Tremors.

Certainly one of their biggest would have to be the Airport pictures. And while they’re a cases study in the Law Of Diminishing Returns, there’s still something about them, something we can all own on Blu-ray in June.

Airport (1970)
Directed by George Seaton
Starring Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, Jean Seberg, Jacqueline Bisset, George Kennedy, Helen Hayes, Van Heflin, Maureen Stapleton, Barry Nelson

Van Heflin (in his last movie) blows a hole in Dean Martin’s plane. Shot in 70mm Todd-AO by Ernest Laszlo, it was a massive success — and kick-started the disaster movie craze of the 70s. Note the Easter ad for Radio City Music Hall.

Airport ’75 (1974)
Directed by Jack Smight
Starring Charlton Heston, Karen Black, George Kennedy, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Helen Reddy, Gloria Swanson, Linda Blair

A small plane runs into the cockpit of a 747, leaving no one to fly the plane. It seems to be the movie most parodied in Airplane! (1980).

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Airport ’77 (1977)
Directed by Jarry Jameson
Starring Jack Lemmon, Lee Grant, James Stewart, George Kennedy, Brenda Vaccaro, Christopher Lee, Joseph Cotton

A hijacked 747 crashes and sinks in the Bermuda Triangle.

The Concorde: Airport ’79 (1979)
Directed by David Lowell Rich
Starring Alain Delon, Susan Blakely, Robert Wagner, Sylvia Kristal, George Kennedy, Eddie Albert, Charo, John Davidson

Where the previous pictures had the likes of Helen Hayes, James Stewart, Gloria Swanson and Joseph Cotton in supporting roles, here we have Charo and Sybil Danning. It plays like a TV movie, and a bad one at that.

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Filed under 1970, 1974, 1977, 1979, Charlton Heston, Christopher Lee, Dean Martin, DVD/Blu-ray News, Jack Lemmon, Universal (-International)

Screening: Apocalypse Now (1979) At The Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

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Directed by Francis Coppola
Written by John Milius and Francis Coppola
Starring Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Frederick Forrest, Albert Hall, Sam Bottoms, Larry Fishburne, Dennis Hopper, Harrison Ford

I saw Apocalypse Now (1979) somewhere outside Philadelphia. (It was one of the prints with the credits appearing over the footage of Kurtz’s base being blown up.) It was a powerful experience, and I left the theater wrung-out and numb.

What really drove it all home was after the lights came up and we headed up the aisle, there were two men — obviously Viet Nam veterans, and looking a bit like Dennis Hopper did in the movie — in a tight hug, sobbing. That said a lot more about this film than any review anyone could ever write. Wish I’d had the guts to thank those men for their service, but I was 15 and stupid.

Apocalypse Now is being shown at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on August 1 as part of Cinespia’s outdoor film series. They say it’ll be the theatrical release version, and this is certainly a picture that needs to be seen on a large screen.

And to those two vets from that night in ’79, and to everyone else who served over there, thank you for your service.

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Filed under 1979, Dennis Hopper, Francis Ford Coppola, John Milius, Marlon Brando, Screenings

Blu-ray News #32: Escape From Alcatraz (1979).

Escape From Alcatraz LC

Directed by Don Siegel
Starring Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Roberts Blossom, Fred Ward

Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood’s final collaboration, Escape From Alcatraz (1979), is tight, tough, cool and exciting — just what you’d expect from the guy who directed Riot In Cell Block 11 (1954), Dirty Harry (1971), Charley Varrick (1973) and so many others.

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Well researched and actually shot at Alcatraz (which had to be partially restored prior to filming), it’s coming to Blu-ray from Paramount in October. (I’ve been wanting to watch this one again, but I’ll wait for the Blu-ray.) Highly, highly recommended.

Speaking of Siegel, Criterion has brought their 1946/1964 The Killers double feature to Blu-ray. Siegel made the 1964 version — starring Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, Ronald Reagan, John Cassavettes and Clu Galager — as a TV movie, but Universal sent it to theaters instead. (Robert Siodmak directed the 1946 one, starring Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner.) Very good stuff.

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Filed under 1979, Angie Dickinson, Clint Eastwood, Don Siegel, DVD/Blu-ray News, Lee Marvin

Blu-Ray News #22: 1941 (1979).

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Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring (in more or less the order I could remember them) Warren Oates, Slim Pickens, Elisha Cook, Jr., Dub Taylor, Dan Aykroyd, Robert Stack, Ned Beatty, John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eddie Deezen, Nancy Allen, John Belushi, Lorraine Gary, Dick Miller, Murray Hamilton, Christopher Lee, Tim Matheson, Toshiro Mifune, Susan Backlinie, Lionel Stander, Sam Fuller, Bobby Di Cicco, Perry Lang, John Landis, Penny Marshall, Treat Williams, Wendie Jo Sperber, Lucille Bensen, James Caan

Is there a movie you like more because everyone else seems to hate it? For me, that’s Steven Spielberg’s 1941 (1979), a movie I dearly love and will lift up till the day I die. But saying that, I also understand, and even agree with, many of the complaints about it. Sure it’s big, it’s loud, it’s stupid, it’s disrespectful — and those are all completely positive things in my book.

It’s also coming to Blu-ray in May as a stand-alone disc (it was already part of a snazzy Spielberg set) — with both the two-hour theatrical cut and the longer, expanded thing. I’ve always preferred the theatrical version — I feel it has a better rhythm to it, even though it offers less Slim Pickens, Dick Miller, etc. Speaking of those guys, how could a movie that boasts Warren Oates, Slim Pickens, Elisha Cook, Jr., Dub Taylor, Dick Miller, Murray Hamilton, Christopher Lee and Toshiro Mifune not be a treasure?

1941 is also the movie that made me really realize there was some guy named John Milius that I needed to learn more about.

Mifune Spielberg Lee 1941

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Filed under 1979, Dick Miller, DVD/Blu-ray News, James Caan, John Milius, Steven Spielberg, Warren Oates

DVD/Blu-ray News #1: The Last Embrace (1979).

Last Embrace OS

The Last Embrace (1979) is one of those movies you mention to people — “a Hitchcock kinda thing directed by Jonathan Demme where Roy Scheider’s a government agent who’s really paranoid about someone being after him and it ends at Niagara Falls” — and they look at you like you’re nuts. Nobody’s ever heard of this thing.

Hopefully, now that Kino Lorber has announced its October Blu-ray and DVD release, that’ll change. It’s another obscure Roy Scheider film that really deserves to be seen.

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Filed under 1979, DVD/Blu-ray News, Jonathan Demme, Roy Scheider