”Airport ’77” made our list of best disaster movies
FAMILIAR FACES Jack Lemmon and Olivia de Havilland (shown); also: Jimmy Stewart, Brenda Vaccaro, Lee Grant, Christopher Lee (Lord of the Rings), and disaster-movie mainstay George Kennedy
UH-OH! Art thieves hijack a jet loaded with priceless paintings and VIPs, but their plan goes awry when the plane goes down in the Bermuda Triangle, where it sinks beneath the waves and teeters on a ledge over an abyss.
SAVING THE DAY Pilot Lemmon and passenger Lee try to keep the passengers from drowning while troubleshooter Joe Patroni (Kennedy, who played the role in all four Airport movies) coordinates a daring, though implausible rescue of the submerged aircraft that involves raising it to the surface with helium balloons.
AFTERSHOCKS This, the third of four films, should have sunk the franchise; instead, it spawned the even more ludicrous The Concorde: Airport ’79.
WHY YOU SHOULD SEE IT Silly as it is (c’mon, helium balloons?), Airport ’77 is the most suspenseful of the series, with death looming over a planeload of Oscar winners, each trying to out-ham the others before their oxygen runs out.