There’s good reason why “Airplane!” holds Empire Magazine’s title for Funniest Comedy Ever. The 1980 film is a nonstop riot. Written and directed by Jim Abrahams and Jerry and David Zucker, the comedy delivers one endlessly quotable laugh after another for nearly 90 minutes straight.
Even if you’ve watched the classic a hundred times, there’s a bit of “Airplane!” trivia you might not know. Granted, the movie is a parody of the disaster flick genre, but it’s specifically a spoof of “Zero Hour,” a 1957 Paramount film in which an air force veteran must fly a passenger jet after everyone else on board succumbs to a bad case of food poisoning. Sound familiar? “Airplane!” borrowed the plot exactly, but went even further. The flying ace protagonist in “Zero Hour” is named Ted Stryker, while in “Airplane!” Robert Hays plays Ted Striker, air force veteran. Even dialogue is lifted — in some cases verbatim — from the original film.
Surely you can’t be serious, you ask? We are serious, and don’t call us Shirley. YouTuber flipflomas spliced some of the most iconic scenes from “Airplane!” together with their counterparts from “Zero Hour,” and the resulting seven minutes are pure magic. (They’re also a perfect reminder of just how insanely funny “Airplane!” is, in large part due to Leslie Nielsen’s incredible delivery and timing.) “Airplane!” delivers the punchlines that the dramatic “Zero Hour” never did. Take, for example, the following two exchanges:
Dr. Baird (Geofrey Toone): “What was it we had for dinner tonight?”
Stewardess Janet Turner (Peggy King): “Well, the main course was meat or fish.”
Dr. Baird: “Yes, I remember I had meat.”
Dr. Rumack (Nielsen): “What was it we had for dinner tonight?”
Stewardess Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty): “Well, we had a choice. Steak or fish.”
Dr. Rumack: “Yes, yes, I remember. I had lasagna.”
Leslie Nielsen, we love and miss you.
Big thanks to flipflomas for cutting the two films together for us, and to Reddit user belerophon for reminding the internet of the glorious seven minute splice. And if you’re curious to know more about how “Airplane” came to be, The Digital Fix has a great write-up on the film’s origin.