Airplane!

CAST


Robert Hays-Ted Striker


Julie Hagerty-Elaine Dickinson


Lloyd Bridges-Steve McCroskey


Leslie Nielsen-Doctor Rumack


Peter Graves-Captain Clarence Oveur


Robert Stack-Rex Kramer


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar-Roger Murdoch


Lorna Patterson-Randy


Stephen Stucker-Johnny Hinshaw


Jim Abrahams-Religious Zealot #6


Frank Ashmore-Victor Basta


Jonathan Banks-Gunderson


Craig Berenson-Paul Carey


Barbara Billingsley-Jive Lady


Lee Bryant-Mrs. Hammen


 

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The 1980 movie Airplane! is probably the best farce ever produced. There were films that followed that tried to emulate its success. There was Airplane II – The Sequel, the Naked Gun series, and Hot Shots, for example.

Well meaning but totally confused advocates of political correctness should avoid this film. Then again, any advocate of political correctness is totally confused.

Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker admit that this is a low budget movie and every precaution was taken to avoid spending too much money. It is a lampoon of practically every disaster movie ever made but it mostly intended to be a parody of the movie Zero Hour. Many of the lines in the film are directly from Zero Hour.

The movie starts out at Los Angeles International Airport where there are many sight and voice gags. We meet one of the stars of the show, Robert Hays, who plays an ex-fighter pilot who lost most of his squadron during a raid. He’s now a cab driver who’s afraid of airplanes. We also meet his girlfriend Elaine (Julie Hagerty) who is a stewardess (notice I didn’t say flight attendant) and has decided to move out of their apartment and leave Ted forever. Captain Oveur (Peter Graves) is also introduced. He is the pilot of the airplane and, as we discover later, has an unusual fondness for little boys.

The movie was written to take place on a propeller driven plane but the studio objected and wanted it up to date. The producers relented and used a jet plane but whenever you see it on the screen, you hear propeller engines. The flashbacks show stock footage of World War II combat planes in action.

As the plane begins to taxi, we see a young man standing in the door of the plane yelling good-bye to has girlfriend who is running alongside. This is a satire of a scene from the movie Since You Went Away where the girl is running alongside a train.

The airplane takes off along with Ted Striker who has purchased a ticket and taken the flight to Chicago to try to convince Elaine to come back to him. Along the way, he tells his seatmates boring stories about him and Elaine. The stories are so boring that the people listening to him eventually commit suicide in horrible ways such as hanging, hara-kiri, or dousing themselves with gasoline and lighting a match.

After the meal is served, many of the passengers become ill. The stewardesses (doesn’t that rankle you politically correct people?) search for a doctor and eventually find one in Dr. Rumack who is played by Leslie Nielsen. He diagnosis food poisoning and concludes that anyone who had the fish for dinner will eventually become violently ill. The food poisoning incapacitates the pilot, co-pilot and navigator and the only one left to fly the plane is our reluctant hero, Ted Striker.

The head of Chicago Flight Control, Steve McCroskey (played by Lloyd Bridges) calls in a veteran pilot, Rex Kramer (played by Robert Stack) to talk Ted Striker through flying the plane. It turns out that Rex Kramer was Ted Striker’s commanding officer during the war and there is no love lost between the two.

Needless to say, Ted Striker does eventually land the plane, as is the case in most old airplane movies.

There are almost too many sight gags to look for in this movie. You can watch it quite a few times before you are confident you’ve seen them all.

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Operator: “Excuse me. This is the operator Captain Oveur. I have an emergency call for you on line five from a Mr. Hamm.”

Captain Oveur: “All right. Give me Hamm on five, hold the Mayo.” (100K)


Lady: “Nervous?”

Striker: “Yes.”

Lady: “First time?”

Striker: “No. I’ve been nervous lots of times.”  (105K)


Jiveman 1: “Sheeeet, man. That honkey mus’ be messin’ my old lady. Got to be runnin’ col’ upside down his head.”

Jiveman 2: “Hey, home. I can dig it. You know he ain’t gonna lay no mo’ big rap up on you, man.”

Jiveman 1: “I say hey sky, s’other say I won say I pray to J I get the same ol’ same ol’.”

Jiveman 2: “Knock yourself a pro slick. Gray matter back got perform’ us’ down I take TCBin’, man.”

Jiveman 1: “You know wha’ they say. See a broad to get that bodiac, lay’er down an’ smack ’em yack ’em.”

Together: “Gol’ got to be. Yo.”

Together: “Sheeeet.”  (336K)


Roger Murdock: “We have clearance Clarence.”

Captain Oveur: “Roger, Roger. What’s our vector, Victor?”  (38K)


Elaine: “Would you like something to read?”

Passenger: “Do you have anything light?”

Elaine: “How about this leaflet; Famous Jewish Sports Legends?”  (103K)


Striker: “Because of my mistake, six men didn’t return from that raid.”

Elaine: “Seven. Lieutenant Zip died this morning.”  (78K)


Dr. Rumack: “You’d better tell the Captain we’ve got to land as soon as we can. This woman has to be gotten to a hospital.”

Elaine: “A hospital? What is it?”

Dr. Rumack: “It’s a big building with patients but that’s not important right now.”  (100K)


Elaine: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your stewardess speaking. We regret any inconvenience the sudden cabin movement might have caused. This is due to periodic air pockets we encounter. There is no reason to become alarmed and we hope you enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?”  (235K)


Dr. Rumack: “Can you fly this plane and land it?”

Striker: “Surely you can’t be serious.”

Dr. Rumack: “I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.”  (85K)


Kramer: (reading newspaper) “Passengers certain to die.”

McCroskey: “Airline negligent.”

Hinshaw: “There’s a sale at Penney’s.”  (76K)


P.A. Announcer: “Flight two oh nine now arriving gate eight. Gate nine. Gate ten.”  (81K)


CLICK ON MOVIE BELOW FOR A COMEDY MOVIE REVIEW FROM TIGER SWEAT

Airplane! (1980) Story of dysfunctional crew and passengers on board a Chicago bound flight.
American Graffiti (1973) One night in the lives of teenagers in 1962
Animal House (1978) A run down fraternity’s members cause chaos on campus.
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) Two elderly matrons poison lonely men and bury the bodies in the basement.
Cat Ballou (1966) An outlaw and her gang rob trains to try to break a town.
The Cheyenne Social Club (1970) A cowboy inherits a brothel called The Cheyenne Social Club.
Dr. Strangelove (1964) Insane base commander sends his B52 bombers into the Soviet Union.
Harvey (1950) Quiet, unassuming man has a giant rabbit for a friend.
The Mouse That Roared (1959) Smallest country in the world declares war on the U.S. and wins.
On Golden Pond (1981) Elderly couple spend a summer at their cottage on a lake.
The President’s Analyst (1967) A prominent psychoanalyst becomes the psychiatrist for the president.
Raising Arizona (1987) An ex-con and a policewoman kidnap a baby to raise as their own.
Support Your Local Sheriff (1969) A drifter on his way to Australia takes the post as sheriff of a western boom town.
Waking Ned Devine (1998) Villagers try to collect a dead man’s lottery winnings.

 


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