Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA, 1977. Universal Pictures. Story by Sanford Sheldon, Richard Levinson, William Link, Screenplay by Richard Levinson, William Link, suggested by a story by Tommy Cook. Cinematography by David M. Walsh. Produced by Jennings Lang. Music by Lalo Schifrin. Production Design by Henry Bumstead. Costume Design by Burton Miller. Film Editing by Edward A. Biery, Richard M. Sprague.
Timothy Bottoms plays a madman who plants a bomb on a rollercoaster and watches happily as the cars fly off the tracks and into the innocent crowd below, killing dozens. Safety inspector George Segal realizes that amusement park owners have a serious problem on their hands when a second accident occurs and a ransom demand comes in. Richard Widmark is downright hilarious as the “YOU’RE OUTTA LINE” FBI agent who takes over when it becomes a federal matter, while Henry Fonda has an inexplicably short cameo as Segal’s boss. Also featuring an early cameo by Steve Guttenberg and an appearance by a fourteen year-old Helen Hunt as Segal’s daughter, this one is cut from the plainest of seventies disaster film cloths, at times intense but for the most part uninspired and shallow. A great deal of the violence was excised to maintain a PG rating, which robs the film of a more than a few thrills (the second act of terrorism is entirely off camera), but there’s great footage of the rides, and after this many years it does provide a nostalgic thrill for the look of amusement parks of the past.