AIRPLANE, Paramount, 1981, I.V.AIRPLANE, Paramount, 1981, I.V.


An airplane crew takes ill. Surely the only person capable of landing the plane is an ex-pilot afraid to fly. But don't call him Shirley.

Release Year: 1980

Rating: 7.8/10 (77,364 voted)

Jim Abrahams

Stars: Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Leslie Nielsen

Still craving for the love of his life, Ted Striker follows Elaine onto the flight that she is working on as a member of the cabin crew. Elaine doesn't want to be with Ted anymore, but when the crew and passengers fall ill from food poisoning, all eyes are on Ted.

Writers: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Roger Murdock

(as Kareem Abdul-Jabaar)

Lloyd Bridges

Steve McCroskey

Peter Graves

Captain Clarence Oveur

Julie Hagerty

Elaine Dickinson

Robert Hays

Ted Striker

Leslie Nielsen

Dr. Rumack

Lorna Patterson


Robert Stack

Rex Kramer

Stephen Stucker




Jim Abrahams

Religious Zealot #6

Frank Ashmore

Victor Basta

Jonathan Banks


Craig Berenson

Paul Carey

Barbara Billingsley

Jive Lady

You've read the ad, now see the movie!

Release Date: 2 July 1980

Filming Locations: Culver City, California, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $3,500,000


Gross: $83,400,000

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


According to Jim Abrahams and the Zuckers in the DVD commentary, when pitching the movie to Robert Stack, they told him to do "Eliot Ness" in reference to Stack's signature character on
The Untouchables. Capt. Kramer's speeches were specifically written with the intention of hiring Stack and mocking Ness' "big speeches". Rather than being offended, Stack understood the joke and took the role. Coincidentally, Barbara Stuart', who plays Kramer's wife, had a guest role in an "Untouchables" episode,
The George 'Bugs' Moran Story.


Crew or equipment visible:
When Captain Rex Kramer is going into the airport and throwing the different annoying solicitors around, you can see the tan and blue mat that the stuntmen fall on by Kramer's leg.


[first lines]

Male announcer:
The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in a red zone.

Female announcer:
The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in a red zone.

User Review

Arguably one of the funniest films ever made

Rating: 10/10

"Airplane!" is, was and always shall be the master of spoof movies. It
is single-handedly responsible for literally inventing a sub-genre of
comedy. It is the ultimate Silly Movie. A satire of the disaster movies
of the 1970s, particularly the "Airport" series, nothing makes sense
and it doesn't need to. There's no real plot. Just laughs – and plenty
of 'em.

It was helmed by the ZAZ trio (Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker), whose
dedication to making the audience laugh is surprisingly adamant. Recent
spoofs may have left a bad aftertaste in your mouth, but it seems to be
a universal agreement: "Airplane" is the funniest film of its genre
ever made. (Closely followed by "The Naked Gun" – also penned by the
ZAZ trio – perhaps.)

The plot: Ted Striker (Robert Hays) is a war veteran-turned-cab-driver
who decides to chase after his girlfriend, an airline stewardess named
Elaine (Julie Hagerty), who has dumped him in order to pursue a new
life. Right before her plane takes off, Ted climbs aboard, hitching a
ride in order to woo her back into a relationship again.

When the aircraft is in midflight, both pilots become very ill after
eating their meals. Eventually many passengers begin to show symptoms
of a rare disease, apparently transmitted by the food. Onboard, Dr.
Rumack (Leslie Nielsen) takes care of the sick passengers as Ted – an
ex-fighter pilot from the war – decides to try and land the plane. If
he messes up they will all die, and in a particularly funny scene, the
pressure becomes so unbearable that he begins to literally sweat
gallons in the cockpit.

That is essentially all the film is about, but most of its duration is
spent cracking jokes. Spoof films are entirely different from other
movies because normally we would criticize a film if it considered its
plot to be the least important element. Not so here. This is a truly
brainless piece of celluloid – a movie that doesn't try to be anything
that it isn't. From the opening credits – that cleverly spoof "JAWS" –
to the closing we realize that this is an altogether unique film going

The movie's biggest laughs come through unexpected flashbacks, such as
when Ted remembers where he first met Elaine in a crummy bar ("…it
was worse than Detroit…"), and begins to disco-dance a la John
Travolta from "Saturday Night Fever" (complete with Bee Gees soundtrack
blaring in the background and the famous Travolta pose). Then, later,
we are taken back to when Ted was hospitalized after the war, and finds
out that he was responsible for the death of six men. "Seven,
actually," he is informed, which adds to the pain of the moment for

Though this movie is very funny, many jokes misfire. If you're not pop
culture savvy and you don't remember Mrs. Cleaver from TV's "Leave it
to Beaver", the humor is going to go over your head. But unlike many
comedies, "Airplane!" offers something unique for each person. I know
that as a film lover, I picked up on many movie in-jokes that some
people might not recognize. And then there were the gags that I first
missed but picked up after a second viewing, or when someone explained
them to me, or both. And I'm sure there are many yet that I'm not aware
of. It seems that every time I watch it, there's something else to
laugh at that I missed previously.

"Airplane!" not only was a huge success in 1980 (the year of its
release), spinning off a horde of imitators and one sequel – it was
also responsible for crowning Leslie Nielsen "The King of Spoof." Prior
to "Airplane!" Nielsen had been a veteran of more serious productions,
stemming back to playing cowboys on "The Mickey Mouse Club" and other
embarrassing attempts at acting. However, Nielsen later claimed that he
had always wanted to do a comedy, even when he first started acting
seriously with projects such as the classic "Forbidden Planet" (one of
the best science-fiction films ever made). He later reunited with the
ZAZ trio for "The Naked Gun" trilogy, appeared in similar spoof films
over the years such as "Wrongfully Accused" and "Scary Movie 3," and
had his iconic comedy shtick ripped off by many screen veterans – most
noticeably by George Gaynes in the unbearable "Police Academy" (1984).

When it comes down to a single evaluation, "Airplane" is simply the
best spoof film ever made. It's like a MAD Magazine parody come to
life. There are the occasional misfires, but unlike many other spoof
film imitators, this one contains far more hits. The deadpan acting is
genius and everything else fits into place, resulting in what may
arguably be one of the absolute funniest films ever conceived and put
on the big screen. And if you decide to watch the movie, don't blink –
you might miss a gag or two. The "Police Academies" will come and go
but "Airplane!" will never be forgotten.