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GEORGE MAHARIS SABOTAGES THE TV-MOVIE 'DEATH FLIGHT'

George Maharis up to no good for DEATH FLIGHT Year: 1977 Rates: ***1/2

Killing two birds with one stone... the death of ROUTE 66 star George Maharis, where two young men travel throughout various cities and towns of early-sixties America, and are actually filmed in each: this Corvette-driving combo of regular guy Martin Milner and intense guy Maharis had terrific chemistry, which it lasted, which wasn't long enough...

Because Maharis left towards the end of Season 3 of 4 seasons, replaced by dumb-jock actor Glenn Corbett, and, either way, it's a creative, sometimes bizarre pseudo-anthology, feeling like a hybrid of Jack Kerouac (who Maharis resembles, and whose novel ON THE ROAD was an inspiration) and Tennessee Williams: but is actually constructed by famous scriptwriter Stirling Silliphant, and featuring a host of future stars from Gene Hackman to Robert Duvall...

Doug McClure and Robert Reed in DEATH FLIGHT

Maharis didn't do much after leaving the series, and yet he worked plenty... on perhaps the wrong things: a load of episodic guest appearances on various episodic dramas, as well as TV-movies.. 

One in particular wielding his usual edgy persona for the disaster-thriller DEATH FLIGHT (originally titled SST: DEATH FLIGHT) where, surprisingly, Robert Reed turns in an intense performance as a Concord pilot forced to join with former workmate Doug McClure to, of course, save all the passengers, consisting of the usual list of familiar 1970's faces...

Martin Milner and Susan Strasberg in DEATH FLIGHT

Between AIRPORT-style romantic melodramas between passenger-couples, from Bert Convy with Misty Rowe, McClure with Tina Louise, Season Hubley with Peter Graves while future airplane disaster BREAKING BAD actor John de Lancie (who died while Jeff Bridges survived a plane crash in FEARLESS) complains in-between: And while infamous, this FLIGHT isn't boring as there's no stopping the bad-luck domino effect beyond the initial sabotage by Maharis... 

Leading to a virus outbreak: a double-whammy for hypochondriacs afraid to fly... plus they might run out of gas to reach their only safe destination... and, ironically, as a memorial to George Maharis, Martin Milner (with fiance Susan Strasberg) plays a has-been football star with the energy and performance-quality equaling Reed... but sadly, there are no scenes with his fellow ROUTE 66 traveler Maharis, RIP 2023, in this pretty good television movie.

John de Lancie with Seaon Hubley in DEATH FLIGHT
Mistry Rowe in DEATH FLIGHT
Tina Louise in DEATH FLIGHT
Billy Crystal and Chrystie Jenner in DEATH FLIGHT
Susan Strasberg in DEATH FLIGHT
Misty Rowe's quick nudity was edited into the European theatrical versions of DEATH FLIGHT
Misty Rowe in DEATH FLIGHT
    Barbara Anderson in DEATH FLIGHT
Doug McClure and Burgess Meredith in DEATH FLIGHT
George Maharis and Martin Milner in DEATH FLIGHT after ROUTE 66

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