This crashing-plane sequence from Mike Nichols‘ Catch 22 (’70) is one of the most ambitiously choreographed shots of this type ever. Obviously a single take with no vfx or gimmicks. The smoking plane coming in for a landing disappears frame-left and then, unseen, takes off and climbs up and away. The camera pans left with Jon Voight and Martin Balsam as we’re shown a stationary burning plane pretending to be the other plane, etc. Show-offy? Sure, but thrillingly so.
Hearty congrats to Nichols, production designer Richard Sylbert (who passed in ’02), dp David Watkin.
This scene of the fleet taking off is also quite special. The photography and the production design are the two best things about Catch 22, really, as it isn’t hugely successful in the various other departments — let’s face it. And that longish opening-credits shot as pre-dawn darkness gives way to light? Has to be seen at least once.
I’ve been looking for a decent YouTube capturing of the crash-landing scene for a long time. I don’t know why the person who put this clip together felt the need to use a lame opening title card, or why he/she decided to keep the clip running with the same title card for a minute after the shot ends.