The low-grade 1972 thriller Skyjacked plays a brief but important role in my upcoming book. Here’s a brief excerpt of the chapter in which I describe why this lesser Charlton Heston flick made a splash at the box office:
The film was controversial due to its subject matter, and numerous TV stations refused to run ads for it; one station manager in Washington, D.C., said he feared the movie would impel viewers with “impressionable minds” to seize planes. But Skyjacked nevertheless opened strongly at the box office, drawing moviegoers curious to experience the terror of life aboard a hijacked jet.
Despite an all-star cast that included Rosey Grier and Yvette Mimieux in addition to Heston, Skyjacked was a dreadful movie riddled with plot holes. Based on a pulp novel called Hijacked, the movie was a halfhearted whodunit in which the skyjacker initially communicates his threats by anonymously scrawling messages on a lavatory mirror. It is no great shock when the culprit is revealed to be a stereotypically frazzled Vietnam vet, played by the thirty-one-year-old James Brolin. Upset over his treatment by the Army, Brolin’s character decides to escape to the Soviet Union, where he is certain that he will be given a hero’s welcome. His daft plan unsurprisingly fails, though not until the Boeing 707 is on the ground in Moscow.
Strangely, Heston doesn’t get the honor of dispatching the traitorous Brolin. That feat is instead accomplished by (SPOILER ALERT!) the Soviet military, which rather randomly decides that this crazy hijacker won’t fit into the dictatorship of the proletariat. Brolin really should have chosen a more laid-back destination.