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Airplane!Directors: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker

Stars: Lesley Nielsen, Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty

Released: 1980

Airplanes and air-travel have become commonplace in Hollywood over the last 30 years. From the Academy Award-nominated ‘Flight’ to the ever-popular ‘Air Force One’ to the downright ridiculous ‘Snakes on a Plane’. However none quite hold the same status as Airplane. Slotting in somewhere between the ever popular and downright ridiculous, Airplane! is widely considered as being one of the greatest slapstick comedies ever made.

When Ted Striker (Robert Hays) is dumped by Air-Stewardess girlfriend Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty), he follows her aboard a plane in a last-ditch attempt to win her back, despite his fear of flying brought on after a traumatic experience flying during a war. As the crew and many passengers become seriously ill due to a bad fish meal, he has no chance to talk to her and soon Ted seems to be the only healthy person aboard that has any experience that could save the flight.

Even if you haven’t watched Airplane!, the chances are you have heard or seen it referenced throughout popular culture. It became a truly quotable film with the eternal ‘Don’t Call Me Shirley’ quote perhaps the most recognisable. However aside from that the most striking aspect of the film is that the comedy is still relevant and extremely funny today, 35 years on from it’s cinematic release.

It’s cast, unfortunately lost to the long list of former actors and actresses who were unable to maintain the level of success of their big break, capture the humour from the writing of Directors Abrahams and the Zuckers perfectly. While perhaps the most famous character, portrayed by the late Lesley Nielsen, is the most humorous of all. Cameos from the likes of the at the-time, popular sports star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (which is referenced in the film on occasion) only added to the films appeal at the time.

Incredibly the film has grossed over thirty-times it’s $3.5million budget in the years since it’s release with a domestic box-office alone of over $83million. It was also the 4th highest grossing film of 1980, which when you consider it came in behind films such as ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and took more than ‘The Shining’ is a true testament to it’s status.

Airplane! is comedy stripped down to the basics. Visual jokes, puns and one-liners make up the majority of the dialogue and yet time after time, the humour hits home. Finding a comedy like this 35 years on, is nigh-on impossible.

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