Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Airplane! (1980)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Airplane! (1980)

In this anarchic, manic comedy by the Zucker brothers and Jim Abrahams - entirely a spoof of Zero Hour! (1957) and later "Airport" films, filled with many effective puns, sight gags, parodies, wordplays, and other jokes:

  • the opening views of a plane's wing-tip or fin cutting through the clouds to the accompaniment of the theme from Jaws (1975)
  • the spoof of the disco-era Saturday Night Fever (1977) in the flashback scene when flight-phobic, ex-Air Force pilot Ted Striker (Robert Hays) and stewardess ex-girlfriend Elaine (Julie Hagerty) were obliviously dancing to the Bee Gee's "Stayin' Alive" in the place where they first met - a Casablanca-style bar in Drambuie off the Barbary Coast
  • the singing of River of Jordan by air stewardess Randy (Lorna Patterson) while continually knocking out the I-V drip for transplant patient (Jill Whelan) - on the way to the Mayo Clinic who desperately struggled during the song (a spoof of the earlier film Airport 1975 (1974))
  • the infamous "fellatio" scene in which Elaine was given directions by air-traffic control to reinflate Otto the Autopilot doll (an inflatable plastic man in a pilot suit, humorously credited as HIMSELF) by blowing air into a nozzle in his belt buckle: ("On the belt line of the automatic pilot there's a tube. Now that is the manual inflation nozzle. Take it out and blow on it") -- Otto suddenly sported a huge satisfied grin and later both Otto and Elaine smoked cigarettes
  • also the deadpanned, sexually-prurient and provocative lines by Captain Clarence Oveur (Peter Graves) to young boy Joey, among others: "You ever been in the cockpit before...You ever seen a grown man naked?" and "Joey, do you ever hang around a gymnasium? Do you like movies about gladiators?" and "Joey, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?"
Otto the Autopilot Doll
Captain Oveur
With Young Boy Joey
"Fly a plane?" Elaine's PA Announcement
  • the plentiful puns: ("Surely, you can't be serious!" "I am serious, and don't call me 'Shirley'!")
  • the continuing confusion of the pilot's "Roger" with his own navigator Roger (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) while talking to ground control - and the bit about "Vector Victor" and "Roger Roger" -- the airplane cockpit talk: "We have clearance, Clarence. Roger, Roger. What's our Vector, Victor?"
  • flight attendant Elaine Dickinson's distressing question over the PA: ("By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?")
  • the "Oh stewardess, I speak jive" scene when elderly passenger Jive Lady (Barbara Billingsley) offered to translate the jive talk of two black passengers to the flight attendant: ("Cut me some slack, Jack!... Chump don't want no help, chump don't GET da' help!")
  • the infamous hysterical passenger (Lee Bryant) continuing joke (the passengers lined up to slap her with various implements)
  • drug-addicted McCroskey's (Lloyd Bridges) running gag: "Looks like I picked the wrong day to quit smoking / drinking /amphetamines / sniffing glue"
  • the line spoken by a little girl when offered cream for her coffee: "I take it my men"
  • the literal gross image of feces being splattered by a fan in an airflight controller's office
  • Ted's passionate kiss with Elaine on the beach while covered in kelp - a spoof of From Here to Eternity (1953)
  • the post-credits comment by a long-suffering, abandoned taxi passenger (Howard Jarvis) at the LAX airport curb, still waiting for cab driver Striker: ("Well, I'll give him another 20 minutes, but that's it")

"Jaws" Airplane Fin

Saturday Night Fever Spoof

IV Drip Knocked Out

"Don't call me Shirley!"

Drug Addicted Air Traffic Controller McCroskey


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