The good thing about working from home is that while I’m still technically in Corporate Hell, I can listen to my vinyl in between calls, while working or, as it today, at lunchtime. So while I enjoy my taco salad (leftovers from my Sweetie’s amazing nacho “Big Brother” feast last night), I’m listening to what may just be the granddaddy of all my Airplanes, Bitches! collection of albums, the original ‘Airport‘ soundtrack.
I found this album at BJ’s Records and Nostalgia in Barrie, Ontario eons ago. I bought it not only because it has an aeronautical theme but because it brings back, well, not so fond memories from my childhood. When I was 4 or 5 years old, my parents took me to my first drive-in cinema to see the double feature, this movie (released in 1970) along with it’s sequel ‘Airport 1975‘ (released in 1974).
I mean what little kid doesn’t love themselves three hours of airline disaster movies, am I right?
I’m sure at the time this was more intended to be a date night for my parents, figuring that their kid would pass out nice and early in the back seat so they could cuddle up and do whatever it is that adults do at the drive-in but, I didn’t, ended up watching it all, and ended up scared shitless of flying straight into my teens. I think I might have even barfed up my fries and milkshake in the back seat too. Anyway, when I boarded a plane for the first time as the age of 15 years old to visit Disney World in Orlando, Florida with my grandmother, I’m sure my shorts pretty much resembled the streaked runway on the album cover upon landing. I did not enjoy the flight at all and kept waiting for the huge tin capsule with wings to begin plummeting to the earth.
Good one mom and dad.
Anyway, the movie was based on Arthur Hailey’s 1968 novel of the same name and more or less originated the 1970’s disaster film genre (Note: The ‘Towering Inferno‘ similarly had a profound effect on my current phobia of tall buildings today). Produced on a $10 million budget, it earned nearly $100 million (not to mention about $12.99 in dry-cleaning charges to get the vomit out of the backseat of our family’s Chevy Tornado). The film is about an airport manager (Burt Lancaster) trying to keep his airport open during a snowstorm, while a suicidal bomber plots to blow up a Boeing 707 airliner in flight. It takes place at fictional Lincoln International Airport near Chicago, Illinois. The film was a commercial success and surpassed ‘Spartacus’ as Universal Pictures’ biggest moneymaker. The movie won Helen Hayes an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as an elderly stowaway and was nominated for nine other Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Cinematography, and Best Costume Design for designer Edith Head.
Alfred Newman’s score is brilliant, one of the tops in the history of cinema. The main title in particular is priceless and is justifiably much admired by film fans. As did the movie, it would become the archetype title score for future disaster flicks in the 70’s. It’s absolutely propulsive, as if portraying the climate of activity of a normal airport. The ‘Airport: Love Theme‘ is extremely popular since it has been the object of uncountable versions, but none as effective as the original. The action music is truly superb, especially ‘Joe Patroni: Plane Or Plows?‘ and ‘Emergency Landing‘.
Unfortunately, Newman would pass away shortly after finishing the score for this album so this would serve as his final swan song. And as it is with other albums in my collection, it’s not necessarily 100% about the music but for the time capsule moment it represents in history and, with it is this album, it’s personal. So while I’m not likely going to play it over and over and over again ad nauseum, it’s a fun trip down memory lane while enjoying my lunch…sans vomit.