Kevin: Earlier this week in our birthday tribute to Steven Seagal, we highlighted his delivery of one line of dialogue in “Hard to Kill” that should have earned him a place at the Oscars that year. However, that also reminded me of a different movie I saw recently in which an actor delivers a line of dialogue in such an amazingly bizarre manner that I had to rewind it like 17 times and record it for posterity. And that actor was actual Oscar winner George Kennedy in “The Concord … Airport ’79”:
In the film, a reporter played by Susan Blakely suspects that her arms-dealer boyfriend (Robert Wagner) has been illegally selling weapons to the Commies. While she is en route to Paris on the Concorde, he does what any good boyfriend would do in this situation by trying to shoot down the aircraft with missiles (Blakely shows what an ace reporter she is by taking an awfully long time to make the connection between this “accidental” missile attack and the fact that her boyfriend, you know, makes missiles). However, while you might be rooting for the plane to explode after being exposed to Jimmy Walker’s “hilarious” comedy stylings, that’s not going to happen on Capt. Joe Patroni’s watch.
A previous Oscar winner for “Cool Hand Luke,” George Kennedy would feature in all four “Airport” movies throughout the ‘70s, as his character Patroni rather improbably went from being a mechanic in the original to a vice president of operations in the second, a consultant in the third, and then finally a pilot in the last installment. Apparently the airline was confident Patroni could remain cool under pressure, and boy were they right, as he fends off the missiles by rolling the window of the Concorde down at supersonic speeds and shooting flares, while upside down no less:
While you may have gotten a chuckle out of that, nothing will give you a bigger laugh today than how Kennedy responds when Blakely asks about his family. There are probably a hundred different ways an actor could have delivered the following line, but none of them would have been as hilariously inappropriate as Kennedy’s version here:
Man Patroni doesn’t give you any heads up on what’s coming, he’s barely done proudly talking up his son heading to college before matter-of-factly dropping the dead wife shit on you out of nowhere. I’m sure a different director might ask for another take, but obviously no one tells George Kennedy how to deliver a line, and we are all better for it.
Post Script: In case you for some reason are not yet on board with the awesomeness of Capt. Joe Patroni, earlier in the movie a stewardess played by Sylvia Kristel tells him “You pilots are such … men!,” to which Patroni replies. “They don’t call it a cockpit for nothing.” Sure Capt. Sullenberger may have given us the Miracle on the Hudson, but as far as I’m concerned Capt. Patroni will always be the real hero to me.