On the surface, Cassie Bowden (Kaley Cuoco) is a very successful flight attendant. The protagonist of the juicy, funny comedy series “The Flight Attendant” by HBO Max lives in New York City and has the main routes in Europe and Asia. But she’s also drunk and, quite frankly, a slut. And when she wakes up in bed in her hotel room in Bangkok, she finds that the man she spent the night with and with whom she flew is dead with his throat cut. It’s a delicious eight-season flight with Cuoco and the series receiving nominations for the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards, and Critics Choice. And it’s expected to be a head-turner for multiple Emmy nominations.
Over the decades, flight attendants have been portrayed in films and on television, from the Madonna to the whore and everything in between. Of course, the most lovable cinematic was the flight attendant Julie Hagerty‘s goofy, big-eyed Elaine in the 1980s blockbuster parody “Airplane!” written by David and Jerry Sugar and Jim Abrahams who impaled countless aviation disaster films, notably “Ceiling Zero” from 1957 and “Airport ’75” from 1974.
But who else has played movie flight attendants over the years? Let’s take a flight back to some famous and some notorious flight attendants. Make sure your seats are in an upright position!
Small town girls who live the big city life
Lots of women – and men – have risen to kind heaven because they felt like their little hometown was dead-end and becoming an FA was a one-way street from Palookaville. Every flight would be different. It would be fun. Romantic. You would live in cities as big as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, and travel the US and maybe even the world.
The industry got a boost 70 years ago with the release of the MGM romantic comedy “Three Guys Named Mike”. Oscar winner Jane Wyman plays a bright, sassy, and energetic small town girl who has always dreamed of becoming an FA. She finally takes the plunge and proves that her instincts were right. However, the passengers like them, some of the male passengers like them too much. She is soon followed by three guys named Mike: a sensitive scientist (by Johnson), a handsome pilot (Howard Kiel) and an advertising manager (Barry Sullivan). Who will she choose? Written by Sidney Sheldon (yes, “The Other Side of Midnight” Sidney Sheldon) and directed by Charles WaltersHis “Three Guys Named Mike” may have been forgotten, but thanks to the winning cast, it doesn’t offend your intelligence.
But that cannot be said of the 2003 romantic comedy “View from the Top” with the Queen of Goop Gwyneth Paltrow as a young woman who grew up in a trailer in a tiny town in Nevada. After her boyfriend breaks up with her, she quits her job at Big Lots and becomes FA for a local airline with low rents that forces employees to dress like they work for Hooters. Eventually she makes her way to a major airline and falls in love with a lawyer (Mark Ruffalo, yes that Mark Ruffalo). Although “View from the Top” was created five decades after “Three Guys Named Mike”, the heroines couldn’t be more different. Wyman’s character is an early feminist, while Paltrow’s Donna is stuck in the 1950s.
PREDICTION the 2021 Emmy nominations through July 13th July
You have to fly an airplane
In movies at least, flight attendants often have to fly and land their planes after some sort of disaster wiped out the pilot and co-pilot.
The grandmother of all of these films is the 1956 Scream, “Julie”. Doris Day (her husband Martin Melcher served as producer) goes in this non-singing role as a rather excited woman married to a jealous psycho-pianist (Louis Jourdan). Although Julie believes her first husband allegedly committed suicide, she learns from a family friend (Barry Sullivanwho cannot escape the stewardesses) that her husband may have been murdered by her second husband, Julie tries and tries to escape Jourdan. It all ends with Jourdan armed with a gun on one of Julie’s flights. When he shoots everyone in the cockpit – Jourdan is also shot – a crying, hysterical Julie has to land the plane.
The campest of this genre is the well-stocked turkey classic “Airplane ’75”, which was lovingly parodied in “Airplane!”. Like Elaine in “Plane! and we hope you enjoy the rest of your flight … By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly an airplane? “
Second in Universal’s “Airplane” franchise, this 1974 features an all-star cast (let’s hope they paid well), including the Oscar winner Charlton Heston, Karen Black, the legendary Gloria Swanson and Myrna Loy, Oscar winner George Kennedy and even Helen Reddy as a singing nun. Black’s chief stewardess Nancy Pryor, who also happens to be with veteran Captain Al Murdock (Heston) – they have rocky times after – has to fly the plane when a small plane crashes into the cockpit of their flight, killing two people, severely injured and blinded of the pilot (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.). The crippled plane is also losing gas. She manages to be a lot calmer than Julie when she receives instructions from her boyfriend, everything is taken between the two of them. Finally, they are reunited when Al is flown into the damaged cockpit in the helicopter and the plane lands.
If trying to land a plane isn’t hair-raising enough, flight attendants may have to deal with crazy bombers on their flights, such as bombers Jacqueline’s bisset Chief Stewardess Gwen in “Airport”, the all-star blockbuster from 1970 that heralded the popular disaster genre of the 1970s. Based on the brand new bestseller from Arthur Hailey, “Airport” was written and directed by George Seaton of “Miracle on 34th Street” fame. Gwen is not only from her married friend pilot Vince (Dean Martin) he offers to pay for an illegal abortion in Pre-Roe Vs. Wade era – she has to transform herself into some kind of superhero when Vince and his cockpit crew discover that there is a crazy bomber (Van Heflin) on board their flight to Rome. And she almost loses her life trying to stop him. The ultimate popcorn film “Airport”, which also starred Burt Lancaster, Jean Seberg, Helen Hayes who won the Oscar, George Kennedy, Barbara Hale and Dana Wynter, received 10 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.
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