3.9 17
Director: Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker, David Zucker

Cast: Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker, David Zucker, Robert Hays


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This spoof of the Airport series of disaster movies relies on ridiculous sight gags, groan-inducing dialogue, and deadpan acting -- a comedy style that would be imitated for the next 20 years. Airplane! pulls out all the clichés as alcoholic pilot Ted Striker (Robert Hays), who's developed a fear of flying due to wartime trauma, boards a jumbo jet in anSee more details below

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This spoof of the Airport series of disaster movies relies on ridiculous sight gags, groan-inducing dialogue, and deadpan acting -- a comedy style that would be imitated for the next 20 years. Airplane! pulls out all the clichés as alcoholic pilot Ted Striker (Robert Hays), who's developed a fear of flying due to wartime trauma, boards a jumbo jet in an attempt to woo back his stewardess girlfriend (Julie Hagerty). Food poisoning decimates the passengers and crew, leaving it up to Striker to land the plane, with the help of a glue-sniffing air traffic controller (Lloyd Bridges) and Striker's vengeful former captain (Robert Stack), who must both talk him down. Along the way, we meet a clutch of stock disaster movie passengers like the guitar-strumming nun, a sick little girl, a frightened old lady, and two African-American travelers whose "jive" has to be subtitled. Leslie Nielsen portrays the plane's doctor, launching a new phase of the actor's career that carried him through the next two decades in several similarly comedic roles. The trio of directors Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker, and David Zucker responsible for the film would eventually go on to solo careers, but not before making Top Secret! and Ruthless People.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Matthew Grimm
Three years after their initial blip on the cultural radar as co-writers of The Kentucky Fried Movie, boyhood friends Jim Abrahams and Jerry and David Zucker landed with a riotous bang -- writing, producing, and directing the zaniest comedy of the '70s, Airplane! Mixing absurd sketch-comedy, puns, wordplays, and cartoonish slapstick with relentless glee, the trio lampooned Hollywood’s penchant for formulaic schlock, using the airline-disaster movie as their framework. The story here is of a burned-out fighter pilot (Robert Hayes) who boards an airplane in hopes of reconciling with his lost love (Julie Haggerty), a flight attendant, and winds up having to overcome his anxiety and crash-land the suddenly stricken jet. The story, though, is secondary to the whirligig of goofball characters on the plane and on the ground. The unending barrage of quips, sight gags, and one-liners transcends the often self-aware dopiness of the humor, making Airplane! as much a brilliant exercise in post-structuralism as it is a gut-buster. Employing seasoned TV straight men such as Lloyd Bridges, Leslie Nielsen, Peter Graves, and Robert Stack to brilliant, self-parodying effect, the movie served up a buffet of deadpan catchphrases. When Hayes says to Nielsen, who portrays a doctor who happens to be aboard, "Surely you can’t be serious," Nielsen dryly responds: "Yes, I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley." And so was born a new Leslie Nielsen, vaulting from ‘70s TV guest star to Hollywood’s go-to buffoon in a single line reading. For the lion's share of films out there, a single viewing will more than suffice -- for Airplane! the notion is simply unthinkable.
All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
Any fool can tell a long succession of dumb jokes, but it requires a special gift to toss 'em off with the fleet-footed élan and rapid-fire precision that the writing/directing team of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker achieve in Airplane! No pun is too silly, no gag is too obvious, and no stunt is too tasteless for these men, as long as someone will laugh at it. Unlike the many filmmakers who followed this film's path, the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker team understood the notion of context, and if Airplane!'s narrative isn't especially fresh or original (since it's a parody, that's probably the point), it's sturdy enough to hold the pieces together and collect the myriad clichés of disaster films in a confined space so they can be efficiently picked off, one by one. And they had the foresight to cast a host of familiar faces in key supporting roles; after years of seeing the likes of Leslie Nielsen, Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack, and Peter Graves in second-rate TV disaster epics, watching a stone-faced Graves ask a young boy if he likes gladiator movies or hard-as-nails air traffic controller Bridges announce that he picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue gave gags that were already funny a surreal dimension that doubled the kick. Anyone who thinks making a film this funny is simple ought to take a look at the unfortunate Airplane II: The Sequel for a quick reality check on how Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker made high art out of low comedy.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Paramount Catalog
[Dolby Digital Mono]
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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Robert Hays Ted Striker
Julie Hagerty Elaine Dickinson
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Murdock
Lloyd Bridges McCroskey
Peter Graves Capt. Oveur
Leslie Nielsen Dr. Rumack
Robert Stack Kramer
Lorna Patterson Randy
Stephen Stucker Johnny
Jim Abrahams Religious Zealot #6
Frank Ashmore Victor Basta
Jonathan Banks Gunderson
Craig Berenson Paul Carey
Barbara Billingsley Jive Lady
Lee Bryant Mrs. Hammen
Joyce Bulifant Mrs. Davis
Mae E. Campbell Security Lady
Ted Chapman Airport Steward
Norman Alexander Gibbs First Jive Dude
Marcy Goldman Mrs. Geline
Rossie Harris Joey
David Hollander Young Boy with Coffee
James Hong Japanese General
Howard Honig Jack
Gregory Itzin Religious Zealot #1
Howard Jarvis Man in Taxi
Michael Laurence Newscaster
David Leisure First Krishna
Barbara Mallory Religious Zealot #2
Maureen McGovern Nun
Nora Meerbaum Cocaine Lady
Mary Mercier Shirley
Ethel Merman Lt. Hurwitz
Ann Nelson Handing Lady
John O'Leary Reporter #2
Cyril O'Reilly Soldier
Nicholas Pryor Mr. Hammen
Conrad Palmisano Religious Zealot #4
Michelle Stacy Young Girl with Coffee
Robert Starr Religious Zealot #5
Barbara Stuart Mrs. Kramer
Kenneth Tobey Air Controller Neubauer
William Tregoe Jack Kirkpatrick
Jill Whelan Lisa Davis
White Second Jive Dude
Jason Wingreen Dr. Brody
Louise Yaffe Mrs. Jaffe
Charlotte Zucker Make-Up Lady
David Zucker Ground Crewman #1
Jerry Zucker Ground Crewman #2
Allison Caine Voice Only
Herb Voland Air Controller Macias
Maurice Hill Reporter 3

Technical Credits
Jim Abrahams Director,Executive Producer,Screenwriter
Jerry Zucker Director,Executive Producer,Screenwriter
David Zucker Director,Executive Producer,Screenwriter
Elmer Bernstein Score Composer
Joseph Biroc Cinematographer
Jon Davison Producer
Fred Smith Camera Operator
Patrick Kennedy Editor
Bruce Logan Special Effects
Hunt Lowry Associate Producer
Tom Mahoney Choreography
Anne McCulley Set Decoration/Design
Rosanna Norton Costumes/Costume Designer
Tom Overton Sound/Sound Designer
Ward Preston Production Designer
Arne Schmidt Asst. Director
Joel Thurm Casting
Jesse Wayne Stunts

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