When Jim Abrahams and the Zucker Bros created 1980's comedy classis "Airplane!", I had no idea just how much they lifted directly from the 1957 drama ZERO HOUR!
(Now I know where they got the exclamation point!)
It's hard to watch the black and white drama and not see direct ties to the spoof, rendering moments of this one unintentionally laugh-out loud-funny.
I was surprised to also see Arthur Hailey listed as one of the screenwriters. He would go on to write the massive bestseller 'Airport" that would be adapted into a blockbuster film in 1970.
ZERO HOUR! details a commercial flight on which the pilots and many passengers are struck with food poisoning, forcing war veteran Lt. Ted Stryker (I'm not kidding! this time he's played by Dana Andrews) to take the helm.
"You're the only chance we've got!" LOL
Sterling Hayden takes on the Robert Stack role as Captain Trelevan, talking Stryker down to the ground through wild weather and WW2 flashbacks. The acting is soap opera level other than Andrews and Hayden, the special effects are horrible and the music score sounds like it was lifted directly from "Dragnet".
I laughed a lot. As a huge "Airplane" fan, it's impossible not to from start to finish. There should be a drinking game demanding that you take a shot every time you see a scene lifted directly into the spoof. I was surprised to learn that Paramount sold the Zuckers the rights to this film so they could do whatever they wanted with the material.
Rarely has something so pedestrian been turned into something so funny.
Fasten your seatbelt, this original gets a C-, but serves as a fascinating b-side of a double feature with "Airplane!".