And surprisingly enough, it is pretty good! Of course, it is also only 15 minutes long!
When you think about it, the core story of airplane is a classic – literally! The production team bought the rights to the 50’s drama Zero Hour!, which allowed them to use anything they wanted from the script. Check this summary out:
Ted Stryker is an ex-World War II squadron leader and fighter pilot who, 10 years after the end of the war, is still haunted by a decision he made that resulted in the death of several of his men. He’s been unable to keep a job and when he gets home one day, he finds a note from his wife saying she and their young son Joey are leaving him and flying to Vancouver. He manages to get on board the aircraft before it leaves but when the pilot and co-pilot – along with many passengers, including his son Joey – fall severely ill due to food poisoning, Stryker is the only man on-board with any flying experience, though not in multi-engine aircraft. He has to overcome his fears if he is to save the life of his loved ones and the rest of the passengers and crew.
Yep, that is Zero Hour! With the exception of Joey being changed into the son of other passengers, everything else is straight out of the original.
So go ahead and check out this video. The amazing thing is how well the deadpan of Robert Stack, Peter Graves, Robert Hays, and particularly Leslie Neilson make this work as a drama.
Of course, you lose the other hour and fifteen minutes, in which we get ‘Shirley’, ‘I take it black … like my men’, ‘a hospital … what is it, Ted’s Saturday Night Fever moves, Barbara Billingsly speaking jive, Joey’s cockpit visit with Peter Graves, Kareem changing into Laker gear, Elaine re-inflating the auto-pilot, crash positions, Ted’s stories, and on and on …