MADE BY MEMBERS • March 2022
With the next Academy Awards right around the corner, we ask movie buff and High Life online editor Ally Wybrew to pick the greatest films that list Concorde among their stars…
Digby, The Biggest Dog in the World
Pet lovers may struggle with the concept of ‘too much dog’, but that’s exactly what Old English Sheepdog ‘Digby’ (pictured above) becomes in this family-friendly flick from 1973. After accidentally drinking a liquid growth formula, the already considerable canine expands to colossal proportions and is soon wreaking havoc across the UK countryside, including at London Airport (now London Heathrow), where he gets in the way of a BAC Concorde 002 take-off. Thanks to the quick thinking of the captain, the aircraft soars over Digby’s big furry head and into the air without incident in one of many well-executed special-effects shots.
Bonfire of the Vanities
Though a box-office flop, Brian De Palma’s 1992 black comedy boasts one of the most expensive shots in movie history – of a BAC Concorde 101 landing. The ten-second sequence (actually five seconds of footage) cost $80,000 and was the result of a $100 bet between De Palma and second unit director Eric Schwab after De Palma said he’d never use such a clichéd image. To convince him, Schwab pulled together an irresistible masterpiece of Concorde landing at sunset backed by the Empire State Building. He even ensured the runway lined up perfectly with the setting sun, something that happens for only 30 seconds a year – in this case, 12 June 1990. Wowza.
Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce on board Concorde in The Wife (Sony Pictures/Landmark)
Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce steer this nail-biting drama about simmering marital tensions coming to a head after author Joe (Pryce) is told he’s receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature. Heading from the US to Stockholm for the ceremony in the winter of 1992, it’s a BAC Concorde 102 that transports the couple, and the usually luxurious flight is plagued by their discontent – Joan (Close) has been ghostwriting Joe’s books – and an intrusive would-be biographer. Concorde’s stunning exterior shots were created with CGI, while the on-board scenes were filmed at the National Museum of Flight in Glasgow and in Dumfries on a Concorde G-BOAA.
The Concorde’s appearance in one of iconic British director Guy Ritchie’s first (and best) films is as fleeting as the supersonic aircraft’s flight itself. In an ‘I’m coming to London’ montage, irate crime boss Cousin Avi heads to the UK from New York to retrieve a diamond from thief Franky Fourfingers. His Atlantic crossing is captured in less than five seconds over six shots – one of which is the Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde leaving the runway. It’s easily one of the most efficiently edited scenes in cinema. A classic.
Concorde on display at the Intrepid Museum, New York City, location for National Treasure (Alamy)
When Nicolas Cage and producer Jerry Bruckheimer get together, things are going to get intense. Thankfully the Concorde Alpha Delta G-BOAD in their 2004 film provides a calm cameo. As Cage’s modern-day Indiana Jones – Ben Gates – ventures to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York to pursue a lead in finding the famous Templar Treasure, the aircraft – alongside other famous aviation faces including an F16 Fighting Falcon and F11 Tiger – delivers a dramatic backdrop to his investigations, which culminate in Gates ditching his pursuers by jumping into the Hudson River. Obviously.
The Long Good Friday
Bob Hoskins is Harold Shand, an East End crime kingpin looking to cut a deal with New York mafia bosses in this 1980s cult classic. The Brit gives the performance of his career as the larger-than-life leading man, dealing out violence, profanity and unforgettable one-liners in a chaotic 24 hours. Among his most memorable scenes? His introduction. A loving eight-second sweep of a BAC Concorde taxiing across the camera lens cuts to Shand swaggering through the airport accompanied by Francis Monkman’s electronic earworm of a title theme.