A routine flight turns into a major emergency as passengers and crew succumb to food poisoning - is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane? If that sounds vaguely familiar, it's because 'Airplane' was a send-up of this forerunner of the 1970s disaster movie..Written by
Michael Brooke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Linda Darnell, who played Ellen Stryker, was actually married to an airline pilot in real life at the time the movie was filmed. See more »
When city emergency equipment is being mobilized, two men are looking at a map of the airport in the police station. They comment that apartments are located very near to the runways. On the map they are viewing, it is very clearly marked in a text block above the runways "Los Angeles". See more »
It's funny, but despite "Zero Hour!" being an excellent and tautly written movie, I found myself laughing periodically throughout the film--and there's a good chance you will too if you watch this movie. It isn't because it's a comedy (far from it), but because the 1980s comedy "Airplane!" is basically a re-make of this 1957--but with all the insane Zucker-Abrams humor. So many times, you'll notice that "Zero Hour!" says the exact same lines and has the exact same plot you'll find in the later comedy film. It's a shame, really, as some might think the folks remade "Zero Hour!" or poked fun of it because it was a bad film--and it's among the best of the air disaster films ever made. Plus, coming back in the 1950s, it was NOT a cliché--but fresh and exciting...unlike later dreck like "Airport '75" and "Airport '79"--films that truly deserved to be parodied and mocked.
The film begins with a guy named Ted Stryker (yes, the same name as the guy Robert Hayes played in "Airplane!") but this time it's played by the ever-dependable Dana Andrews. Like in "Airplane!", he's a combat vet with PTSD and blames himself for the deaths of six pilots--but it happened in Europe, not Macho Grande! And, like in the latter film, tainted fish cause the crew and many of the passengers to become violently ill. And, like the later film, it's up to Andrews and an old WWII pilot who knows him (Sterling Hayden) to talk him through the landing process.
Despite all these similarities, the film is first-rate. Hayden and Andrews are both two of my favorite actors of the era because neither one was a "pretty boy" and they excelled at playing realistic characters--real guys who rise to the occasion when the need arises. Not macho...just real men with real problems and real grit. The script sure helped as well--it didn't seem ridiculous but managed to create wonderful tension and kept me riveted.
Overall, an excellent and often ignored film. See it yourself and see why it as well as "The High and the Mighty" are two airplane disaster movies that manage to pack a lot of entertainment more than 50 years later.
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