Hollywood's Best-Ever Aviation Spoof Turns 25
Towergy: Captain, look at this!
MCrosky: Passengers certain to die!
Kramer : Airline negligent.
Johnny : There's a sale at Penny's!
It's the kind of dialogue you'll hear in the cockpit even now --
25 years after it was first heard in the aviation spoof,
That's right. Billed by the American Film Society as one of the
ten funniest movies ever made, "Airplane!" is now a quarter-century
old. And we're still laughing.
Striker: Surely you can't be serious?
Rumack : I am serious, and don't call me Shirley!
The movie, written in the all-too-serious 1970s, debuted in
1980, ripping contemporary disaster movies like "Jaws" and
Attndnt: Excuse me sir, there's been a little problem in the
cockpit . . .
Striker: The cockpit . . . what is it?
Attndnt: Its the little room in the front of the plane where the
pilots sit, but that's not important now.
The writing was manic, but producer/writer/director Jerry Zucker
told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel it was the actors who really
made the movie work.
"You could have cast funny people and done it with everybody
winking, goofing off and silly. But the whole point was (the)
serious style. We wanted people to be oblivious to the comedy. The
actors understood 'in varying degrees,' Zucker said.
For instance, he said, Robert Stack, who played the hard-bitten
chief pilot, Captain Kramer, "got that we were using his
image," Zucker told the Journal. In the movie, Capt. Kramer
had to talk down a former fighter pilot struggling to save an
Kramer : I know this guy.
Paul : You do? Who is it?
Kramer : Name is Ted Striker, I flew with him during the war, it
won't make my job any easier tonight. Ted Striker was a crack
flight leader, up to a point. He was one of those men who, lets
say, felt to much inside, maybe you know the kind. Went all to
pieces on one particular mission, lets just hope that doesn't
Striker: Lets see.
Altitude, 24,000 feet... level flight, speed 520 knots. Course,
0-9er-0, trim, mixture, wash, rinse, spin . . .
Leslie Nielsen, who went on to make comedy a way of
life, was like "a fish in water." But Bridges, who played an
air traffic controller with a few addiction issues, kept trying to
"shtick it up." When Bridges questioned a line of a dialogue, Stack
told him, " 'There's a spear going through the wall behind you, and
there's a watermelon falling behind me. No one's paying any
attention to us,' " Zucker said.
MCrosky: It sure is quiet out
Kramer : Yeah, too quiet.
MCrosky: Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing
( inhales some glue and falls over)
Co-director/writer/producer Jim Abrahams and his mother will be
honored Wednesday by Jewish Family Services in Milwaukee for their
philanthropic efforts in that community. The festivities will
include a showing of "Airplane!" A red-carpet screening of the film
is scheduled for Thursday at Milwaukee's Pabts Theater.
Rumack : I just want to tell you both good luck, we're all
counting on you.