â€¢ AIRPORT 1975 is big and slick and glossy, but will it fly? The concept is intriguing: a light private airplane collides head-on with a 747, wiping out the crew and stranding in mid-air a planeload of terrified passengers. The cast boasts so many stars that it can (and does) use half of them as extras. Production values and technical credits are flawless. What could possibly upset such a winning combination? The script, that's what. Don Ingalls' screenplay serves up more cliches than a Republic western, and the roles allow for about as much character development as a Disney cartoon. Charlton Heston is the cynical pro, George Kennedy is the hard-bitten executive, Helen Reddy is a singing nun (?), and Gloria Swanson is Gloria Swanson. Linda Blair is a patient in desperate need of a kidney transplant (which probably accounts for some of her strange behavior in The Exorcist). Other stars afflicted with one-dimensional roles include Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Susan Clark, Roy Thinnes, Sid Caesar, Myrna Loy, Ed Nelson, Nancy Olson, and, worst of all, Larry Storch as a super-obnoxious newscaster. In the midst of this melange, two performers rise well above their material. Karen Black is superb as the chief stewardess, struggling valiantly to keep the plane aloft with nothing but radioed instructions and an unfamiliar instrument panel to aid her. Dana Andrews is effective as a harassed businessman and the hapless pilot of the other plane involved in the collision. The photography, especially the panoramic view of the mountains around Salt Lake City, is spectacular. It's a shame that the movie as a whole is unable to achieve the same status. Rated "PG." â€"Charles F. Barr
â€¢ JUGGERNAUT is advertised as an epic sea adventure, but is filmed in the tradition of British closet drama. Omar Sharif stars as the captain of a luxury liner, carrying 1,200 passengers and seven bombs. Richard Harris is a demolitions expert sent from London to defuse the bombs, as Scotland Yard negotiates desperately with the unknown fiend who's threatening to blow up the ship unless a huge ransom is paid. The plot is carried forward at the expense of character development, enabling the audience to watch the movie's progression with icy detachment. The hysteria and excitement that could be generated by such a precarious situation is strangely muted; everyone (including the children) elects to carry on in the "stiff upper lip" tradition. The color photography, with its emphasis on greys and blues, has a chilling and depressing effect, contributing to the stilted emotional range of the film. The direction is crisp and the pacing is good. If only the people were more alive, Juggernaut would be a superior film. Rated "PG." â€"C.F.B.
â€¢ Al Ruddy, late of the Atlas Shrugged film project, has come up with a rip-roaring action movie, THE LONGEST YARD. Burt Reynolds seems perfectly cast as an ex-football hero with a "don't give a damn" attitude, serving a stretch in the state pen for stealing and demolishing a girlfriend's car. Eddie Albert gives an equally impressive performance as the slightly deranged warden, obsessed with whipping his guards into shape as a winning semi-pro football team. When Albert orders Reynolds to create and coach a team of convicts for the guards to practice on, the fun begins. The cons, many of them lifers, know that this will be their only chance to beat up on the guards legally, and they prepare to make the most of their opportunity. The big game is a carnival of legal and illegal violence, a liason between Reynolds and the warden's receptionist, cheating, blackmail, bribery, promises, threats and double-crosses. What more could you ask for in a movie? Rated "R." â€"C.F.B.
â€¢ TURKISH DELIGHT, a Dutch film directed by Paul Verhoeven, first appeared in Los Angeles last year during that city's Filmex film festival and is now having its American premiere release there. A 1973 Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Film, it has been proclaimed as "a cross between Love Story and Last Tango in Paris," a catchy but misleading description that is sure to disappoint admirers of both films who take it seriously. While the unabashed nudity of its lovers surpasses that of Tango, it is a far less intellectually ambitious undertaking and is totally without the mindless romanticism that inflated Erich Segal's work. The plot is conventional enough, the story of a young and handsome artist (Rutger Hauer), charming, selfish and often cruel, and his exuberant sexual fascination for a beautiful and childishly heedless girl (Monique van de Ven). The girl at first shares his passion and then turns away from him to another man and finally succumbs to the disease and death that haunts their world. What is startling is the film's coarse, earthy style, vulgar at times and more visceral than sensual, that gives it a peculiarly modern idiom and a surprisingly powerful impact. It is not, however, for the fastidious, since Verhoeven takes a perverse, somewhat sensational delight in the gross imagery of decay that pervades the film. But for those with stronger constitutions, it is a compelling film, superbly acted, the work of a talented director new to American audiences. Rated "X." â€"James F. Carey