Monday, December 31, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Skyjacked (1972)

Last year we spent New Year's Eve watching a fairly silly disaster movie, TWISTER, so we decided to follow suit this year and watch another disaster film of sorts. This year we chose SKYJACKED. How could we resist one of our favorites, Charlton Heston, as the captain of a skyjacked 707? The DVD box says "All that stands between the terrified passengers and doom is the steely resolve of Captain O'Hara..." Sold!

This movie isn't great art, but it is great entertainment, even in its sillier or less logical moments. (Those filmy flashbacks with syrupy '70s music...!) It's hard to resist the cast: besides Heston, we've got Rosey Grier as a cellist, James Brolin as a soldier, Mariette Hartley as an expectant mother (of course she gives birth during the highjacking, what did you expect?!), and Walter Pidgeon as a Senator.

Then there's Jeanne Crain as a housewife, Susan Dey as a rich teenager in first class, and Nicholas Hammond (THE SOUND OF MUSIC, TV's SPIDER-MAN) as the Senator's son. John Hillerman (MAGNUM P.I.) is an air traffic controller, and Claude Akins has a terrific turn as the sergeant who talks the plane down out of horrendous weather in Anchorage. The stewardesses are played by Yvette Mimieux and Leslie Uggams.

It's a particularly curious thing watching a movie of 35 years ago in a post-9/11 world. After the flight crew receives the skyjacking threat note, they constantly waltz in and out of the unsecured cockpit -- always taking care to put on their uniform jacket and hat before leaving the cockpit, no matter how much stress they're under. And the shot of Heston piloting the plane during takeoff with a pipe clenched in his teeth is classic -- that's probably a firing offense nowadays.

And how'd the very pregnant woman and the guns make it on the plane, anyway? Of course, if they hadn't gotten on the plane, there wouldn't have been a movie!

If you like Charlton Heston or airplane suspense movies that don't need to be taken too seriously, this is the movie for you.

The film runs 101 minutes and was directed by John Guillermin.

SKYJACKED is available on DVD as part of the Terrorized Travelers Cult Camp Classics set, or as a single title release. It's also available on VHS.

A good time was had by all. Happy New Year!

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