I saw this as a kid on an afternoon movie, and it stuck with me - years later, the very title meant one thing, one image. We'll get to that.

 

The first ten minutes of the film can be summed up just by screen grabs.

I'm an airline pilot, and I need steady nerves. That's why I suck my Luckies down to the filter:

 

 

Your stewardess for the flight, the high-haired and ever-delectable Suzanne:

 

 

They competed with Agglomerated Airlines in many markets:

 

 

Planes were smaller. So much for securing items in the overhead bins:

 

 

Uh oh

 

 

Oh hell

 

 

And this was what I remembered.

 

 

Don't worry, I'm not giving anything away; it's a movie about the aftermath of a plane crash. I recall the nose of the plane cartwheeling towards the camera, an image I never erased from my mind. So I was intrigued to finally see the movie. It's damned good. The plane crashes. Suzanne Pleshette survives, thank God. The pilot, Rod Taylor, does not. His old friend, Glenn Ford, tries to prove it wasn't pilot error. This leads to flashbacks, to WW2. Taylor's great as a seat-of-the-pants cocky-but-brilliant pilot, and we meet some of his crew. Recognize the guy in the middle?

 

 

Wally Cox, who played a lot of dweebs-in-the-service roles. There's also a Dame in Rod's Past, so to speak, and she hails from the great era of sexy blondes with linebacker necks:

 

That's Constance Towers; she did one episode of Star Trek DS9, and five of Perry Mason, which makes her the lileks.com favorite of the week.

How does it end? Harrowingly. Glenn Ford recreates the flight that ended in a crash, and midway through the scene my childhood brain supplied the solution to the mystery. I'd seen it all the way through, then. Glad I saw it a second man.)