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I think Airport (1970) was probably the one, though The Last Voyage (1960) preceded it by 10 years (and the original Poseidon Adventure by 12). Back in the mid-1930's, of course, there was San Francisco (1936) and The Hurricane (1937) (I suppose you could also consider The Good Earth (1937)).

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Also the big earthquake sequence in Green Dolphin Street.


?Men Must Fight? from 1933 is a very interesting early ?attack on New York? film. This is the first film I know of that shows New York under attack with the citizens running through the streets screaming.


Also, this film predicted WW II, and it showed people watching an anti-war rally on TV in a bar. (Yes, on TV. Looked like a regular modern TV.)


The ?Eurasian Forces? attack New York with poison gas and bombs.




There were some early disaster films such as ?The Last Days of Pompeii? 1935, and one made in Italy in 1913.




?Five Came Back? was an airliner disaster film from 1939. The airliner was a DC-3. It hit bad weather over South America and went down in the Amazon jungle.


Lol, I got to ride a DC-3 when I was about 20 years old, back in the early ?60s, a real antique. These were still used for smal town to small town flights by the airline companies like Delta.


If you live in New York, you need to see ?Skyscraper Souls?, about a giant tall office building that is nearly twice as high as the Empire State Building.

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I agree that the "Disaster Movie Genre" was ushered in by 1970's Airport. Sure, there were movies about disasters prior to this, and movies that were a disaster before and since, but this is most likely the genesis of the genre.


I'm no expert, but I was there at the beginning. :)



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?Five Came Back? 1939 (airliner crash in the jungle)


?No Highway in the Sky? 1951 (airliner rips apart in the sky, predicted British Comet jet type crashes)


?Phone Call From a Stranger? 1952 (airliner crashes, one survivor)


?Island in the Sky? 1953 (airplane crash movie)


?The High and the Mighty? 1954 (airliner running out of gas over the Pacific, co-pilot freaks out)


?Back from Eternity? 1956 (remake of ?Five Came Back?)


?Julie? 1956 (crazy killer tries to take over and crash airplane, stewardess lands airplane)


?Lost Flight? 1969 (airliner down in the jungle)

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Like I said - there were movies about disasters prior to Airport, but I feel that Airport began the formulaic for the following disaster flicks. Namely all-star casts with intertwined stories that were played out throughout the specific disaster. Most of the earlier ones you mentioned, Fred, focused soley upon the disaster itself and how the participants reacted to it.


Airport dealt with the airport's struggle with the local community and their noise complaints, the pilot's affair with the stewardess, the bomber's financial woes and the little old lady who stows away to get free flights. Add to this a blizzard and the efforts of the airport's troubleshooter to move a stranded plane to allow the crippled airliner to land safely.


Just my opinion, Fred. Of course, you know what they say about opinions.



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I think you are right about "Airport" being the film that ushered in the modern disaster film:

all star cast, multiple storylines, etc.


"Airport" begat "The Poseidon Adventure" which begat "The Towering Inferno" (who can forget Jennifer Jones and Fred Astaire in that one).


"Earthquake" , all the Airport Sequels and all the others that followed pale in comparison (despite some heavy duty all star casts) to the above three.

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