The Concorde supersonic aircraft is about to be the biggest thing to hit the passenger airline business for decades, a plane that can take people across the world in a briefer time than anything ever has before. But some of its rivals are not happy, believing it will take away their custom and leave them seriously out of pocket, so they conspire to sabotage the test flight of one such plane on a mission across the Atlantic. They are successful in that crime, and the Concorde crashes into the sea off the Antilles where it apparently disappears, killing the small crew onboard. But not all: there is a survivor, stewardess Jean Beneyton (Mimsy Farmer), and she is kidnapped to keep her quiet...
The Airport series was a big success across the globe, no matter its critical reception that was less than flattering, so it was natural in 1979 that the fourth instalment would be a hit of similar magnitude. The trouble was, even the ridiculousness of the plot this time was difficult to ignore for audiences, and they stayed away to a greater extent than they had before, which was bad news for the makers of this little item which had been put into production as a spoiler to the bigger budgeted official entry. Just as well it was released before Airport '79: The Concorde then, when the novelty had yet to wear off completely and they could cash in on the upcoming disaster epic that wasn't.
Here the action was less confined to the aircraft and more the filmmakers' idea of what an Airport movie should look like, shot through the filter of Italian action flicks of this decade. Presumably they had been much-impressed by the Peter Benchley adaptation The Deep, which had done well despite not being very good, but the combination of intrigue on, in and by the ocean post-Jaws was proving difficult to resist, and much of the plot was concerned with diving to check out the wreckage of the downed plane. Or rather, the model plane as the special effects were painfully obvious and the stock footage lent to the movie by British Aerospace not exactly finely integrated.
Our protagonist was not, as it turned out, Farmer's jeopardised air hostess, for she spent half the story locked away on a boat, nope, we had James Franciscus as the improbably named journalist Moses Brody who had been put on the trail of this subterfuge by his ex-wife, who owned a restaurant on the nearby island. When he shows up, intrigued by her reluctance to explain why he should be there, she has been murdered and this makes up his mind to bring his wife's killers to justice. Or so you assume, since he never mentions her again and sets about diving to the wreckage with the help of a local who has identified the location, though once they get down there the local contrives to get his hand trapped in the door, which the journalist saws off (rather than prying open said door) and brings him to the surface.
Whereupon his injured pal is explosively shot in the head by the bad guys - some days you just can't catch a break, huh? Anyway, Brody does escape and succeeds in rescuing Jean single-handedly (oops, not like that), rather than going to the authorities as their chief doesn't believe him when he tells him there's a conspiracy afoot. Meanwhile, there's another Concorde travelling across the Atlantic and this one has passengers aboard; it also has vials of acid hidden in the roast chicken dinners that break open when heated and damage the circuitry, an admittedly ingenious though far from foolproof plan that the ageing boss Joseph Cotten has put into practice - and Van Johnson has a bit as the stoic yet panicky pilot at the finale. Make no mistake, this was a trash thriller to the limits of family viewing, but there were occasional laughs and diversions to be enjoyed though whether it was really any better than the official version was difficult to say, it certainly didn't beat it on camp, a shade too generic for that. Groovy music by Stelvio Cipriani.
Italian director best known his ultra-violent horror work, but whose filmography takes in many genres over a 40-year career. Worked as an assistant director on a variety of films during the sixties, and made his first credited directing debut in 1968 with the superhero yarn Phenomenal and the Treasure of Tutankamen. Throughout the following decade Deodato made erotic dramas (Gungalar, Waves of Lust), musical comdies (Man Only Cries for Love), and comic book romps (Zenabel).
It was Ruggero's horror films that gained him an international reputation however. The trashy Last Cannibal World was followed by 1980's notorious Cannibal Holocaust, and the likes of House on the Edge of the Park, Cut and Run and Bodycount were popular amongst video audiences during the eighties. Other films during this period include the action fantasy The Barbarians and bizarre thriller Dial Help, while Deodato's work during the nineties was largely confined to Italian TV.