Airplane! (1980)

Airplane! (1980) Airplane! (1980)
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Airplane! (alternatively titled Flying High!) is a 1980 American parody film written and directed by the brothers David and Jerry Zucker, and Jim Abrahams in their directorial debuts, and produced by Jon Davison. It stars Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty and features Leslie Nielsen, Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Lorna Patterson. It is a parody of the disaster film genre, particularly the 1957 Paramount film Zero Hour!, from which it borrows its plot, central characters, and some dialogue. It also draws many elements from Airport 1975 and other films in the Airport series. It is known for its use of surreal humor and fast-paced slapstick comedy, including visual and verbal puns, gags, running jokes, and obscure humor.

Released by Paramount Pictures, it was a critical and commercial success, grossing $171 million worldwide against a budget of $3.5 million. Its creators received the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Comedy, and nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and for the BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay.

Since its release, its reputation has grown substantially. It ranked sixth on Bravo's 100 Funniest Movies. In a 2007 survey by Channel 4 in the United Kingdom, it was judged the second-greatest comedy of all time, behind Monty Python's Life of Brian. In 2008, it was selected by Empire magazine as one of 'The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time', and in 2012 was voted #1 on The 50 Funniest Comedies Ever poll. In 2010, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Plot - Ex-fighter pilot Ted Striker is a traumatized war veteran turned taxi driver. Because of his pathological fear of flying and subsequent "drinking problem"—he splashes beverages anywhere but into his mouth—Ted has been unable to hold a responsible job. His wartime girlfriend, Elaine Dickinson, now a flight attendant, breaks off her relationship with him before boarding her rostered flight from Los Angeles to Chicago. Ted abandons his taxi and buys a ticket on the same flight to try to win her back. Once on board, however, Elaine continues to reject him, causing Ted to accidentally drive several other passengers to suicide as he sadly reminisces.

After the in-flight meal is served, the entire flight crew and several passengers fall ill. Passenger Dr. Rumack discovers that the fish served during meal service has caused food poisoning. With the flight crew incapacitated, Elaine contacts the Chicago control tower for help and is instructed by tower supervisor Steve McCroskey to activate the plane's autopilot, a large inflatable dummy pilot dubbed "Otto", which will get them to Chicago but not be able to land the plane. Elaine and Rumack convince Ted to take the controls. When Steve learns Ted is piloting, he contacts Ted's former commanding officer, Rex Kramer—now serving as a commercial pilot—to help talk Ted through the landing procedure. Ted becomes uneasy when Kramer starts giving orders and he briefly breaks down amid more wartime flashbacks. Elaine and Rumack both bolster Ted's confidence and he manages to once again take the controls.

As the plane nears Chicago, the weather worsens, complicating the landing. With Elaine's help as co-pilot and Rex's guidance from the tower, Ted is able to land the plane safely, despite the landing gear shearing off, and the passengers suffer only minor injuries. Rescue vehicles arrive to help unload the plane. Impressed by Ted's display of courage, Elaine embraces and kisses him, rekindling their relationship. The two watch as "Otto" takes control of the plane, inflates a female companion, and takes off.


  • Robert Hays as Ted Striker
  • Julie Hagerty as Elaine Dickinson
  • Leslie Nielsen as Dr. Rumack
  • Peter Graves as Captain Clarence Oveur
  • Lloyd Bridges as Steve McCroskey
  • Robert Stack as Captain Rex Kramer
  • Lorna Patterson as Randy
  • Stephen Stucker as Air Traffic Controller Johnny Henshaw-Jacobs
  • Frank Ashmore as Victor Basta
  • Jonathan Banks as Gunderson
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as First Officer Roger Murdock and himself
  • Craig Berenson as Paul Carey
  • Barbara Billingsley as Jive Lady
  • Lee Bryant as Mrs. Hammen
  • Nicholas Pryor as Jim Hammen
  • Joyce Bulifant as Mrs. Davis
  • Maureen McGovern as Nun
  • Kenneth Tobey as Air Controller Neubauer
  • Marcy Goldman as Mrs. Geline
  • Barbara Stuart as Mrs. Kramer
  • Ross Harris as Joey Hammen
  • Norman Alexander Gibbs as First Jive Dude
  • Al White as Second Jive Dude
  • David Hollander as Young Boy with Coffee
  • Michelle Stacy as Young Girl with Coffee
  • David Leisure as First Krishna
  • Jason Wingreen as Dr. Brody
  • Jill Whelan as Lisa Davis
  • Ethel Merman as Lieutenant Hurwitz
  • Lee Terri as Mrs. Linda Oveur
  • Jimmie Walker as Windshield Wiper Man
  • James Hong as Japanese General
  • Howard Jarvis as Man in Taxi
  • Michael Laurence as Newscaster
  • Herb Voland as Air Controller Macias
  • Otto as Himself