We continue our silly little exploits of the film industry of yesteryear throughout this, the 2,015th January since the A.D. era officially got underway, and yes this time we are going to get good and silly indeed. I took a poll last week to see what kind of film everyone would like to see next (I didn’t really, but I totally should have — that is actually a good idea) and the results that never were proved to be overwhelming: we need a spoof. Not necessarily a brainless exercise, but something lighthearted and perhaps more palatable than the recent stuff that’s finding its way into cinemas as of late. It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy
Today’s food for thought: Airplane!
Now landing at gate 22 . . . 23 . . . 24 . . . 25 . . . 26 since: July 2, 1980
Surely I can’t be serious, only now getting to write up something about one of cinema’s proudest achievements in the realm of deadpan comedies/inane spoofs . . . Well, guess what? I am serious. And don’t call me ___________ .
It looks like I picked the wrong week to nearly call it quits on the blog, as I totally forgot how many things Lloyd Bridges’ McCroskey voluntarily quit during his time as an air traffic controller — smoking, drinking, amphetamines. Sniffing glue. I mean, it’d be a tad selfish to stop this one thing I do when others are out there making far bigger sacrifices than I. Of all the sacrifices, it has to be Ted Striker (Robert Hays)’s that becomes . . . most . . . striking in this movie. He hates flying, ever since his days in the war, and yet he chooses to board a flight whose fate will be left completely up in the air thanks to a bad case of food poisoning that affects both flight crew and passengers alike. He will have to land the Boeing 707 on his own, plain and simple.
A straightforward review of this spoof simply won’t fly. Punny enough, that’s why I’m going to let the cheese do the talking this time. Here are ten quotes that the film Airplane cannot afford to leave the ground without; without these moments the comedy, you might say, would suffer from terminal unfunniness. (Okay, I’m done. . . I promise.)
Hanging Lady: Nervous?
Ted Striker: Yes.
HL: First time?
TS: No, I’ve been nervous lots of times.
Roger Murdock: Flight 2-0-9’er, you are cleared for take-off.
Captain Oveur: Roger!
Roger Murdock: Huh?
ATC: L.A. departure frequency, 123 point 9’er.
Victor Basta: Requesting vector, over.
ATC: Flight 2-0-9’er cleared for vector 324.
RM: We have clearance, Clarence.
Oveur: Roger, Roger. What’s our vector Victor?
ATC: Tower’s radio clearance, over!
Oveur: That’s Clarence Oveur, over.
ATC: Roger, over!
Ted Striker: [flashing back to the bar he frequented during the war] It was a rough place — the seediest dive on the wharf. Populated with every reject and cutthroat from Bombay to Calcutta. It was worse than Detroit.
Jack: What’s going on? We have a right to know the truth!
Dr. Rumack: [to all passengers] All right, I’m going to level with you all. But what’s most important now is that you remain calm. There is no reason to panic. [his nose begins to grow]
Rumack: Now, it is true that one of the crew members is ill . . . slightly ill. [the nose continues to grow longer and longer]
Rumack: But the other two pilots . . . they’re just fine. They’re at the controls flying the plane . . . free to pursue a life of religious fulfillment.
Dr. Rumack: You’d better tell Captain we’ve got to land as soon as we can. This woman has to be gotten to a hospital.
Elaine Dickinson: A hospital? What is it?
Rumack: It’s a big building with patients, but that’s not important right now.
Elaine Dickinson: Ladies and gentlemen, this is your stewardess speaking. We regret any inconvenience the sudden cabin movement might have caused, this is due to periodic air pockets we encountered; there’s no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?
Dr. Rumack: Extremely serious. It starts with a slight fever and dryness of the throat. When the virus penetrates the red blood cells, the victim becomes dizzy, begins to experience an itchy rash, then the poison goes to work on the central nervous system; severe muscle spasms followed by the inevitable drooling. [Oveur experiencing each symptom as the doctor describes them.]
Rumack: At this point, the entire digestive system collapses accompanied by uncontrollable flatulence. . . . until, finally, the poor bastard is reduced to a quivering wasted piece of jelly.
Steve McCroskey: Johnny, what can you make out of this? [hands him the weather report]
Johnny: This? Why, I can make a hat or a brooch, or a pterodactyl . . .
Ted Striker: [as the plane loses an engine] The oil pressure. I forgot to check the oil pressure! When Kramer hears about this, the shit’s going to hit the fan! [meanwhile, in the office, feces hits a fan and explodes all over the room]
Airport Male Announcer: The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in the red zone.
Airport Female Announcer: The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in the red zone.
AMA later on: The red zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in the white zone.
AFA: No, the white zone is for loading of passengers and there is no stopping in a red zone.
AMA: The red zone has always been for loading and unloading of passengers. There’s never stopping in a white zone.
AFA: Don’t you tell me which zone is for loading, and which zone is for stopping!
AMA: Listen Betty, don’t start up with your white zone shit again.
AMA, later still: There’s just no stopping in a white zone.
AFA: Oh really, Vernon? Why pretend, we both know perfectly well what this is about. You want me to have an abortion.
AMA: It’s really the only sensible thing to do, if it’s done safely. Therapeutically there’s no danger involved.
Recommendation: We all know this section is here because of formatting reasons. I do not need to recommend the best spoof ever to anyone. You’ve either seen Airplane or you have not. Though it may be one of my favorite creations of all time, I can see where the over-the-top silliness and perpetual pun-spinning wears out its welcome for those wanting something with a little more logic to it. But where’s the fun in being logical?
Running Time: 88 mins.
TBTrivia: Crazy coincidence: three of the film’s characters who had no comedic acting experience prior to Airplane — Leslie Nielsen, Peter Graves and Barbara Billingsley — all passed away in 2010, the film’s 30th anniversary year.
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