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And don't call me Shirley.

I just got through watching a movie on TCM.  It was about a WWII pilot named Ted Stryker whose squadron went down during a mission, leaving him afraid of flying.  The love of his life, Ellen, had boarded an airplane and was about to fly out of his life forever, but he buys a ticket and boards the plane.  Once airborne, the pilots (one of whom is played by a professional sports star) and several passengers become ill from eating tainted fish, and Ted must overcome the haunting memories of his past to land the airliner safely.

This movie, of course, was Zero Hour! from 1957, starring Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell, Sterling Hayden and Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch.

A large portion of this movie would later be parodied in the 1980 movie Airplane!.  TCM showed both movies back to back and although Zero Hour! was a drama, it was quite amusing seeing just how much of the movie was copied scene-for-scene and even line-for-line in Airplane!.  Lines like "I guess I picked the wrong week to quit smoking", "I may bend your precious airplane, but I'm bringing it down" and "Flying a plane is no different than riding a bicycle."  I laughed when they took the young boy up to the cockpit and the pilot hands him a toy DC-4, puts his arm around the boy and asks, "You ever been in a cockpit before?".  Even the scene with the woman who goes crazy and ends up getting slapped by a line of people makes an appearance.

If you choose to watch Zero Hour!, I'd highly recommend making it a double feature with Airplane! first.



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Mar. 6th, 2010 07:09 am (UTC)

I was just watching that myself. The moment I really broke up was when they had the first cutaway to the ground crew at (Calgary?) airport, and the people there looked just like the Airplane cast.

It's really amazing how Airplane was able to take a competent melodrama and eviscerate it so that it's not possible to watch it without the memories of Airplane overwhelming it. It's a good disproof for folks who say that some follow-on project (a remake, say) can't hurt the original because that's still there. The new project can obliterate the old even if it's still available.

( 1 piece of cheese — Leave some cheese )