Airplane! (1980)

PG   |    |  Comedy


Airplane! (1980) Poster

A man afraid to fly must ensure that a plane lands safely after the pilots become sick.


7.7/10
203,507

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  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Airplane! (1980)
  • Robert Hays in Airplane! (1980)
  • Julie Hagerty in Airplane! (1980)
  • David Zucker at an event for Airplane! (1980)
  • Robert Hays and Ben Mankiewicz at an event for Airplane! (1980)
  • Robert Hays at an event for Airplane! (1980)

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5 March 2010 | AlsExGal
9
| A courageous effort in its time
This film could have derailed the careers of everyone involved. For example, people under 40 may not even know that until this movie, Leslie Nielsen was strictly a serious actor in dramas both on TV and in film. Many may watch 1973's"Poseidon Adventure" for the first time today and keep waiting for Nielson - as the captain of the doomed ship - to get up from the dining room table wearing just his heart-covered underwear below the waist, or for him to make that first clueless remark. He never does. But from this film onward, he was strictly a comic actor and a good one. Quite a sharp turn for age 55.

Just think how tight a line you have to walk with such silliness in order to be brilliant versus inane. What could have easily been the first winner of the Razzie Worst Picture award instead was the first major film of its genre and over the last 30 years has inspired some creative as well as mundane imitators. To understand the film's success you have to look at the time in which it was made - late 70's early 80's. The sarcasm of the post-Watergate era in which everything is fair game for ridicule started on TV with Saturday Night Live, and first appeared on the big screen with "Kentucky Fried Movie", but this was the first and best big-budget attempt at such material.

In addition to being the beginning of an era, it is sadly the end of one - one in which we all didn't take ourselves quite so seriously. There is no way today that you could make a movie where people are "speaking jive" as though it were a foreign language or where an Air Israel plane is shown complete with kosher beard. There would be an outcry followed by Congressional hearings. In 1980, there was still a perspective that making fun of certain perceptions and admitting that they are there is a better approach to bringing us all together than just ignoring them and sweeping them under the rug. There's yet another good approach to bringing people together - laughs, of which this film is full.

Just a word of caution - if you've never seen any of the serious airplane disaster movies that preceded this one such as the Airport movies of the 1970's or the 1950's film "High and the Mighty", this film will ruin them for you. They all become comedies. Thus you might want to see them before you see Airplane - or if you want to laugh some more, see Airplane first.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The directors were friends with David Letterman and asked him to audition for the Ted Striker role. While they liked his reading, Letterman was visibly uncomfortable at the idea of formally acting and was openly relieved when they didn't offer him the part. In fact, David Zucker had said to Letterman's manager that they thought Letterman could win the role (they planned to have him return for another audition) but was surprised when the manager said that there was no chance that would happen. His audition was shown on his talk show, much to his embarrassment.


Quotes

Airport Steward: Smoking or non-smoking?
Ted Striker: Smoking.


Goofs

The seating arrangement in the film is incorrect for a Boeing 707 (the aircraft used for all the exterior shots). The coach section of the 707 has 3 seats on each side for each row, yet the seating arrangement shown has 3 seats on the right side and 2 seats on the left for each row, similar to the arrangement for either a Convair 990 or a Douglas DC-9.


Crazy Credits

In case of tornado ... Southwest corner of basement


Alternate Versions

On the broadcast television version, there is an extra joke when the plane is landing. Elaine exclaims, "Look out, Ted! The mountains! The mountains!" Ted replies, "Elaine, we're over Iowa." Elaine then says, "Look out, Ted! The Corn! The Corn!"


Soundtracks

Stayin' Alive
Written by
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb and Maurice Gibb
Performed by The Bee Gees
Courtesy of RSO Records
Published by Stigwood Music, Inc.

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