Airplane! side by side with original 50s flick

Neatorama points us to an interesting fact about the movie Airplane! — it's essentially a remake of a 50s flick called Zero Hour!. You can see some side by side comparisons in the video above.


  1. for some reason even with my ear pressed against the speaker in my Asus Eee I still cannot hear the video :(

  2. I always thought this was common knowledge (if I’m not mistaken, the directors said this was a direct parody of Zero Hour, and IMDb reports that the producers bought the rights to Zero Hour before making Airplane!), but it’s cool to see the scenes put right after each other.

  3. I actually watched the original 1950’s version before I saw Airplane. I remember there being lots of similarities, but this side-by-side comparison is astounding.

    I’m sure there are lots of other 50’s and earlier vintage films that could stand this same treatment.

  4. “… it’s essentially a remake of a 50s flick called Zero Hour!”

    If by ‘essentially a remake’ you mean ‘parody’ then, yes.

  5. That is not a “factoid.” A “factoid” is something which sounds like a fact but isn’t (“fact”+”-oid” meaning “fact-like”.)

    This is merely an interesting fact.

  6. Still goes to show you…with the right material, Leslie Nielsen’s dead pan brings the funny.

  7. Zero Hour is itself a based upon “Flight into Danger”, a Canadian TV movie from 1956 that starred James Doohan (among others).

    1. Wow, research reveals this as fact! Canadians once again spawn great media, and once again show zero interest in promoting it.

      I may have figured it out — Canadians never finessed the ‘residuals’ culture the way the Americans have, that’s a banker’s job. The actors and crew are paid when the product is made, plain and simple.

      Never mind that a few Canadians were involved in the Hollywood institutions that created this expectation.

      We create, then throw away. Americans create, (and/or borrow, as much great media must) and then hoard for as long as possible, for the most money possible.

  8. There’s been rather too many of these lame ‘bet you didn’t know!’ stories on BoingBoing recently – most of which are either common knowledge or wouldn’t stand a couple of seconds googling. The Neatorama original is just ignorant – they say that the lines are ‘cribbed’ off Zero Hour, but Airplane! is a completely intentional and up-front parody of Zero Hour as an exemplary film of its type. But all the straight lines are played for laughs in the context of Airplane. In Zero Hour, they were meant to be taken entirely seriously. Certainly there’s a lot of unintentional humour to be found in 50s and 60s cinema – Mystery Science Theater 3000 made series out of the concept later (in a far cheaper way!).

    1. Maybe you should start a better blog then.

      All this ‘bb sucks’ shit that has been becoming increasingly prevalent lately just makes me wonder why you all keep reading if you hate it so much, if you think it’s so shit.

      If you don’t like it, fine, but how about you do it without trying to ruin it for the rest of us who still enjoy this stuff. IE, fuck off killjoy.

      I for one didn’t know that it was a parody, and would never have thought to go looking, since not having the idea kept the idea from, you know, coming up….or something.

      PS Airplane! is known as Flying High in Australia, possibly other countries too?

  9. Wow. Who knew that my favorite musician and songwriter, Weird Al Yankovic, was doing re-makes of other popular songs all these years? I just found out today that some guy wrote a song named “Bad” before Weird Al did “Fat”!

    1. Oh yeah? Oh yeah??? Well, then, what Talking Heads song was “Dog Eat Dog” a remake of?

      (Disclaimer: it took me a long time before I figured out that “Dog Eat Dog” wasn’t a parody of any particular Talking Heads song, but of Talking Heads songs in general. Once I figured that out my life got much better.)

  10. …not only all that, but I thought you guys hepped folks to this years ago. I may be mistaken though..

  11. The Zucker Bros. “hepped” folk to this fact, back when they made “Airplane!”

    And, you know, told folk that they made the film as parody of a 1950’s flick named Zero Hour, which they had bought the rights to.

    Next up: “My Fair Lady” is “essentially a remake” of “Pygmalion.”

  12. I’ve known this was the case for some time now, so I set up my TiVo to tape “Zero Hour” if it should ever come on so I could see how closely the Zucker brothers ripped it off for Airplane! I eventually gave up, though, after a couple of years of getting nothing but 9/11 documentaries and the like. (This was before AMC started running them in tandem, according to Biggswede @3; maybe I need to go looking again.)

  13. I love the stewardess’ reaction to the “fish” line @1:49. It may actually be better…

  14. I was expecting literal side-by-side, but I think for the sake of comparison, this worked as well or better.

    Wikipedia says “The film is a spoof of the disaster film genre, and is, in a sense, a remake of the 1957 Paramount film Zero Hour!” – but I too didn’t know, and it’s great to see it like this :)

  15. One night watching late-night TV I ran across an old black-and-white movie that looked really familiar. There was a wizard on a mountain shooting fireballs at nothing in particular.

    Realized after watching the rest of the movie that it was the template for Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

    I really wish I could have figured out the name but this was in pre-cable-guide days and they didn’t put the name in the credits (that I found anyway).

    If anyone knows this movie I’d love to see it given the same treatment.

  16. How about changing that description to say it’s a parody, not a remake. Unless the original was a comedy.

    Spelling and grammar errors are tolerable, but errors that change the meaning of a statement kind of defeat the point of writing something.

  17. I already knew it was a parody of Zero Hour due to the commentary track on the DVD, but that doesn’t make the actual linked video any less interesting!

    I thought this was great.

  18. Thanks. The video was fun to watch. Well done, except the audio amplitude in it was abnormally low.

  19. FWIW, “Zero Hour!” is available on R1 DVD — in particular, from Netflix.

  20. Anyone wishing to round out their “Movies That Influenced Airplane!” experience should also watch “Airport” and “The High And The Mighty.” The latter of those two is particularly fun for having Robert Stack in the pilot role.

    “Airplane!” doesn’t ape these two movies as directly as it does Zero Hour!, but they’re as obvious a source of inspiration as the (first) Boris Karloff “Frankenstein” was on Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks when they made “Young Frankenstein.”

  21. I had seen Zero Hour originally when I was in elementary school – always loved anything to do with flying and space. When I saw Airplane! in 1980 I was well familiar with the plot and it made the spoof ever so much more enjoyable.

    I remember in the theater laughing, along with only a couple other people, when they showed the exterior shots of the plane flying. A girl behind me asked her boyfriend what we were laughing at and he said he didn’t know. I turned around and said, “They’re showing a jet airplane but the noise is that of a propeller airplane.” At many points in Airplane you can hear the propeller engine noise in the background.

    They should have comparative clips of that in the video also! It’s a wonderful subtle joke!

    I’d also like to know if the guy sitting at the radio when they’re asking for more coffee (at timemark 1:33) is the same actor years later. Sure looks like it could be!

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