AIRPLANE! (FLYING HIGH)
US, 1980, 89 minutes, Colour.
Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, Julie Hagerty, Robert Hays, Leslie Nielsen, Robert Stack, Jim Abrahams, Jonathan Banks.
Directed by Jim Abrahams and David Zucker.
Flying High is a hilarious parody of disaster films, especially the 1958 Jet Over the Atlantic. It is full of sight gags, verbal gags, and is still highly enjoyable with its parody of such films as Saturday Night Fever. There was a sequel, Flying High II, which was also very funny.
1. The acclaim of the film by critics, the success at the box office? Its overall appeal to American audiences, world wide audiences?
2. The seventies and the disaster films, their conventions? Audience familiarity with them? Enjoying them in themselves, their contrivances? The expected conventions? The exaggerations in the serious films? The accounting for their popularity?
3. The possibility of parody and its use here? Satire with a certain amount of affection? Enjoyable mockery? Mocking the enjoyment of the audience and their expectations? The lifting of the plot straight from Paramount's Zero Hour, 1957? The influence of Zero Hour in so many airport films? The popularity of the airport series? Audiences being ready to enjoy and accept this film and its jokes?
4. The homage to so many disaster films, explicit reference to the airport films? The quick humour of the crash landing of the plane into the terminal? The extra satire with the Jaws opening, the long humour of the Saturday Night Fever satire, the well known From Here To Eternity episode? Ethel Merman and her singing a song from Gypsy? The background of television soap operas and expected styles, looks, dialogue? How well were these satirised and used?
5. Ted and Elaine as the romantic couple? Their looks, manners, way of speaking? The particularly American style? The background of Vietnam, the Peace Corps? Ted as cab driver, sick pilot, fearful? Love for Elaine? The memories of the war including the planes, the hospital, Africa? The need for rehabilitation? His antagonism towards the hospital, Africa, her having to Elaine and her romantic memories? leave Ted? Their being made for each other?
6. Humour with the cab parked at the airport kerb, the religious people at the airport and their being ignored, bashed? Ted's story and the lady hanging herself, Hari Kiri, the man pouring petrol on himself? The flashbacks and the humour of the past? The automatic pilot and the sex overtones? The hostess’s going to fly the plane?
7. The Airport themes - the musical score, the take off, the controls, the drill, the language? The difficulties, the food, the panic, the plane going up and down? The various people on board - the nun and the guitar, the hostess and the guitar, the sick girl (and the satire of the song with everybody looking eagerly), the family, the blacks? The punching of the hysterical lady? The desperate situations with the storm, the illnesses, the hostess flying the plane, the details of the landing? The people rushing from gate lounge to gate lounge?
8. The humour of the pilots - Captain Oveur, Roger and the plays on words? Captain Oveur and the overtones of homosexuality and the young boy, his illness and collapse as it was described? The black pilot and his sports background and the criticisms of the little boy? Peter Graves in this role? Lloyd Bridges as Mc Crosky and his desperation, giving up drinking, smoking and taking glue? Exemplifying his picture? Kramer at home, the dog mauling the visitor, the rough car ride, his punching the religious people in the airport, his enmity towards Ted, his bringing him down and thinking it was jungle warfare, his long autobiographical talk when nobody was listening? John and his camp behaviour?
9. The Doctor and his straight talk, describing the illness, delivering the baby, supporting the people, his continual morale boosting even when it was down?
10. Verbal humour - the use of cliches, the sub-titles for the jive language, the play on technical words, the smoking tickets, etc.? the newspaper headlines? The announcers at the beginning and their verbal fight? The drinking names for Vietnam? The jokes in the final credits?
11. The humour of the music - Elmer Bernstein's score, romantic interludes, Saturday Night Fever?
12. The quick pace of the film, not delaying on jokes, the range of strong jokes and weak jokes, the blend of visual and verbal humour, the editing? insight into the United States? The satire on audiences and their expectations? On the conventions of the genre? Insight into the way entertainment works, audiences accepting conventions and enjoying comedy?