Coffee, Tea or Turbulence – Bruce W. Orriss

Review by Nicholas A. Veronico.

Coffee, Tea, or Turbulence could also be titled ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’ of airliner movies. The airliner melodrama genre gave us some good movies and some real turkeys, and fifty films are reviewed in Bruce Orriss’s latest volume. 

The book begins with 1933’s Air Hostess, starring Evelyn Knapp and James Murray, a love-triangle film that an aviation-hungry public flocked to see. All the movies are here, 1954’s The High and the Mighty starring John Wayne, 1957’s Zero Hour (the movie that Airplane/Flying High is based on!) with Dana Andrews as Lieutenant Ted Stryker and Linda Darnell as Ellen Stryker, 1964’s Fate is the Hunter with Glenn Ford, Rod Taylor and Suzanne Pleshette. Keep in mind airliners were crashing at an alarming rate in the 1950s, so these films were a magnet for the movie-going public. 

The early to mid-1970s disaster films are well represented with profiles of Airport (1970), Skyjacked (1972), Airport ’75 and Airport ’77; the latter two took advantage of the public’s interest in the recently introduced Boeing 747. Recent films, such as Denzel Washington’s Flight (2012), Liam Neeson’s Non-Stop (2014), and the Clint Eastwood-directed, Tom Hanks star vehicle, Sully (2016), round out the films covered in the book. 

Author Orriss presents each of the films with its cast, credits, and a narrative of the production with details of the aircraft used in the movie. A newspaper or magazine review, contemporary to the film’s release, finishes each chapter. 

Coffee, Tea, or Turbulence is a perfect bookend to the author’s recently released, four-volume, aviation film history series When Hollywood Ruled the Skies.

ISBN 978-0-69203-688-4

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