AIRPLANE! (1980) DIRECTED BY JIM ABRAHAMS, DAVID ZUCKER AND JERRY ZUCKER. BASED ON ZERO HOUR! BY ARTHUR HAILEY, HALL BARTLETT AND JOHN CHAMPION.
STARRING ROBERT HAYS AND JULIE HAGERTY.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
‘This is Captain Oveur, over.’
‘And don’t call me Shirley…’
‘Excuse me, Miss, I speak jive.’
‘That’s strange. Jim never vomits at home.’
‘Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?’
‘Joey, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?’
This is an excellent ‘spoof’ comedy film, which parodies some of the great disaster epics of the ‘Seventies and lets the air out of ‘em a little bit. Some of the jokes, punchlines and visual gags will be as familiar to you as your own name by now.
Certainly, when I re-watched it last night after a gap of about ten years, I was able to recite a lot of the lines without much difficulty. While it may never again be as funny to you on subsequent watches as it would have been on your first, it’s still pretty damned funny and well worth a second or third or even fourth look.
The plot is two-fold. There’s an airline disaster, first and foremost. A plane takes off from Los Angeles to go to Chicago. During the flight, however, numerous passengers as well as the pilot and his co-pilots all become desperately ill with food poisoning after eating the fish course for dinner.
The ‘automatic pilot,’ a blow-up dummy called Otto, is deployed to fly the plane for the moment, but someone human is going to have to land that baby in Chicago or there’s gonna be a major accident in the air. Added to which, the sick passengers need urgent, on-the-ground medical attention or they could die.
Leslie Nielsen as the hilariously deadpan Dr. Rumack and Julie Hegarty playing the beautiful stewardess Elaine Dickinson scour the plane to see if they can find someone- anyone- qualified to bring this big bird down safely.
Dr. Rumack: ‘We need to get these people to a hospital or they could die.’
Elaine: ‘Oh my God, a hospital! What is it?’
Dr. Rumack: ‘It’s a big building with doctors and nurses in it, but that’s not important right now…’
Very funny. They do one or two other gags using this one as a template, and it makes me laugh every single time. Anyway, Elaine knows perfectly well, however, that there’s only one man on board who can do this job, and this is where the second plot, the romantic one, kicks in with a vengeance.
Elaine’s boyfriend Ted Striker, played by the handsome Robert Starman Hays, is a passenger on the doomed plane, but Elaine has just broken up with him because he just can’t get over the trauma he endured as a fighter pilot in the war- it doesn’t say which war- when he was the cause of several of his fellow officers meeting their fiery deaths in the air. Ted’s on the plane to try to convince a reluctant Elaine to take him back, despite his flaws, but he’s steered cleared of planes generally since the war.
Dr. Rumack and Elaine manage to convince the nervous Ted, now working as a taxi driver- a nice safe earthbound job- to fly/land the plane. He’ll have the telephone help and guidance of Lloyd Bridges’ character Steve McCroskey in the air control tower, and also Robert Stack’s Capt. Rex Kramer, an old nemesis of Ted’s. Can Ted step up to the plate and be the man that both Elaine and the passengers and crew need him to be? Well, we’ll see, won’t we? There’s a helluva lot riding on this one safe landing…
There are some terrific visual gags that you’d need to see to properly appreciate, such as the two stewardesses dragging the bodies of the sick pilot and his two sick co-pilots down the aisle of the plane while the passengers’ attention is momentarily diverted elsewhere; Elaine giving Otto a ‘blow-job’ in the cockpit after which they both need a cigarette, and the queue of heavily armed passengers lining up to each ‘help’ this one hysterical woman to calm down and get a hold of herself. It’s pretty funny stuff.
I like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a real-life basketball player, as co-pilot Roger Murdoch (‘Roger that, Roger!’), and also Lorna Private Benjamin Patterson as the singing air stewardess who doesn’t want to die an old maid. (‘Well, at least I have a husband,’ says Mrs. Hammen smugly. What a bitch!)
The flashbacks to Ted and Elaine getting together are really funny; Elaine aping the movements of the stabbed man on the dance floor, thinking he’s just grooving to the beat like her, and also Ted’s John Travolta bit to the disco music of the Bee Gees, are both brilliant. Ditto the way the whole bar gets up en masse and starts disco-dancing when the music changes. The film is a-gag-a-minute solid gold comedy classic. Don’t y’all miss out on seeing it…!
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
SOME LIKE IT HOT. (1959) DIRECTED, PRODUCED AND CO-WRITTEN BY BILLY WILDER. STARRING MARILYN MONROE, TONY CURTIS, JACK LEMMON, GEORGE RAFT, PAT O’BRIEN, JOE E. BROWN AND JOAN SHAWLEE.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
‘Well, nobody’s perfect…!’
This black-and-white romantic comedy is generally considered one of the best films of all time, never mind just best comedy film. Its sparkling quickfire dialogue, inspired comic performances and zany plot have ’em rolling in the aisles every time. With laughter, that is, lol, not with anything else.
It stars Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon as, respectively, Joe and Jerry, a couple of down-on-their-luck session musicians living in Chicago in 1929, during the good old days of Prohibition. A tendency to booze, womanise and gamble their every penny away (well, on Joe’s part, at least) sees them permanently skint and looking for work.
The two lads are also blessed with a real gift for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, which is how they come to be unwilling witnesses to a terrible mass shooting based on the real-life Saint Valentine’s Day massacre, in which seven mobsters were lined up against a wall in a dingy garage and brutally mowed down by four unknown gun-wielding assailants. Still unknown to this day, in fact, though of course there are theories.
Anyway, the two lads escape the murderous mobsters, who don’t like to leave no witnesses, by only the skin of their teeth. With the terrifying mob boss ‘Spats’ in pursuit, not to mention his even more frightening henchmen, Joe and Jerry decide they need to scarper, and on the double too.
Desperate for work and possessed of a healthy desire to stay alive and out of the clutches of Spats & Co., they dress up as dames and join Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopators, an all-girl band headed by overnight train to a Miami hotel for a series of gigs. They’ll be paid, and Spats’ll never find them there. He’s looking for a couple-a dudes, after all, not a pair of broads with gams up to here and pointy booby things…!
Sweet Sue, the ballsy band-leader who’s been around the block a time or two and whose trademark is to screech continually for ‘Bienstock,’ the band manager, when things go awry, thinks there’s something a little ‘off’ about Josephine (Curtis) and Daphne (Lemmon), but I think they both make smashing broads, especially Tony Curtis who has such a lovely feminine face in full make-up.
Both Josephine and Daphne fall immediately in love with Sugar, the singer with the band. Sugar (Marilyn Monroe) is stunningly beautiful, with her bleached blonde hair, red lips, great pins and fantastic boobies, but she’s an emotional mess from years of being jerked around by guys and well on her way to becoming an alcoholic.
Daphne is hilariously pursued by an ageing eccentric billionaire when the ‘girls’ drop anchor in the Miami hotel, while Josephine/Joe disguises himself as a young eccentric billionaire in order to win Sugar’s badly dented heart.
Much the same way as Daphne has to keep reminding himself, I’m a girl, I’m a girl, I’m a girl, I have to keep reminding myself that it’s a comedy film, when I watch poor Sugar falling more and more under the spell of that lying bastard, ‘Shell Oil Junior.’ It’s really despicable to play with Sugar’s heart the way he does, but okay, I get that it’s a film and that, in 1959, this was the kind of thing that passed for a great laugh…!
Joe E. Brown is superb as Osgood Fielding the Third, and his tango scenes with Jack Lemmon are so funny. They make a really good couple! Spats’s henchmen are terrific too. You definitely wouldn’t want to bump into any of them down an alleyway on a dark night, and none of ’em ain’t gonna win no beauty contests no-how, but they’re all great intimidating fun.
Sweet Sue’s gals are all top totty, and the boozy party in Daphne’s bunk on the train remains a major highlight, along with those nude-effect dresses Marilyn Monroe wears in her musical numbers that make her look topless. How did they ever get those dresses past the censors? And what sublime titties, lol. Boop-boop-be-do…!
So, does Spats ever catch up with the two hapless witnesses to his foul crime? Does Sugar end up with the fuzzy end of the lollipop again, or has she really found true love this time with yet another in a long line of no-goodnik saxophone players? (I really doubt it, but whatever. It’s just a film. It’s just a film…!)
Will Osgood Fielding pop a question to a certain someone, and will he and that certain someone live happily ever after on Mumsy’s yacht and on Mumsy’s money? Well, I ain’t psychic, you know. Maybe we should ask someone who might know. All together now: ‘Bienstock…!’
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.
THE GEORGE FORMBY FILM COLLECTION. (1941-1946) DIRECTED BY MARCEL VARNEL AND STARRING LANCASHIRE’S OWN GEORGE FORMBY.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
‘Rediscover the magic of ‘The Ukelele Man’ himself- George Formby- with seven of his very finest films!
George Formby was Britain’s biggest box-office star when he moved to Columbia Studios to make these seven fabulous comedy musicals- full of hit songs and packed with daft and inspired comedy in the true Formby style!
Finally released from the film vaults and digitally remastered for optimum sound and picture quality, these seven films are now available to own for the very first time in one very special DVD boxset!’
SONY PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT.
‘Eeeeeeeeh, it’s turned out nice again, ha’nt it…?’
My teenage son and I went out specifically to look for George Formby films after hearing him singing his wonderful comic song ‘I’m leaning on a lamp-post on the corner of the street in case a certain little lady passes by’ on a gorgeous CD called WARTIME MEMORIES, which I’ve been listening to since Christmas.
And why was I listening to a CD called WARTIME MEMORIES, you might ask me? Well, I watched CASABLANCA on Christmas Eve on Irish television, all by myself in the deepening gloom, and ever since then I’ve craved as much ‘Forties music as I can get my hands on. Anything ‘Forties, really. Music, films, memorabilia and whatever else is out there.
We found this seven-film boxset in one of our favourite places to buy movies and music, and set about watching ’em with the diligence and enthusiasm of a mouse who finds himself unexpectedly alone with a wheel of Brie.
It’s as good an introduction to the films of this special little funny man as ever you’re likely to find, so if you’re thinking of getting to know the movies of George Formby yourself, you could do a lot worse. Eeeeeeeeeh…!
George Formby (1904-1961) is the undisputed star of all seven films. With his gormless, pleasantly toothsome face and the trademark wide grin, he sings and jokes his way through the scripts in much the same way each time.
He’s never a rich posh toff, he’s always a working-class stiff (usually called George!) trying to make ends meet, but it doesn’t bother our George at all that he wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Whatever the weather, George is always in a good mood and as nice as a cake made of pie (Ned Flanders, THE SIMPSONS) to everyone he meets.
If he gets bullied by bigger, tougher men, he might get knocked about but he’ll always get back up. He’s got an unerring sense of justice and fair play, he loves his country dearly and would punch any traitor on the nose for daring to say a bad word against his beloved England.
As these particular films were mostly made during the Second World War, you’ll find George preparing to fight the Nazis in a few of them. There are jokes against Hitler, Goering and Goebbels in them specifically and the patriotism in them would do your heart good. Eeeeh, they would at that…!
There’s a certain kind of England conjured up in each film that’s mostly gone now, an England of cheeky little scamps shouting the news of the day on street corners as they sell their papers, sailors home on shore-leave with the words ‘loose lips sink ships’ ringing in their ears and war savings bonds on sale everywhere you look to aid the war effort.
Bobbies still had chin-straps and said ‘Now you just come alonger me’ to suspicious characters or rum-looking coves, going to the pictures cost next to nothing (you need to take out a bank loan these days for a night out at the flicks!) and it was common practice to hide behind the sofa when the landlord came calling for the rent.
And don’t forget the blackout curtains and the little evacuees and the air-raid sirens and the nights in the bunkers while Hitler’s Luftwaffe droned relentlessly overhead. Women drew stocking seams down the backs of their legs because real nylons were rare. Oh, happy days…!
There aren’t many folks alive today who remember this tumultuous era first-hand but we know that, as straitened as circumstances often were back then, people always had their lovely memories of the time. Maybe some of your Great-Grannies and Great-Grandads even went to see George Formby at the pictures and have good memories of so doing. Eeeeeeh, i’n’t life grand…!
George sings three, four or even five songs in each of the films, often accompanying himself on his beloved ukelele, and here’s something else about the films. You wouldn’t take George for a ladies’ man, would you, but in every single movie he gets the girl of his dreams with only a modicum of effort, and you know what little belters those ‘Forties dames were.
Of course, he was the star and the star always gets the girl. Or does it just go to show you that nice guys don’t, in fact, necessarily always finish last? George hasn’t a bad bone in his body, he’s a tad goofy-looking and if a woman came onto him he’d be just as likely to run off shrieking ‘Mother!,’ but the nice girlies all love our Georgie. ‘Well, I’ll go to our ‘ouse…!’
Let’s have a quick run-down of the seven films on the boxset before we finish. In SOUTH AMERICAN GEORGE (1941), George’s coincidental resemblance to an opera singer (without being able to sing a note of opera!) leads him into a situation where he can help a lovely lady out if he’ll just play the part of the absentee opera singer for a bit. That’s if he doesn’t get his head blown off by some rum coves first…!
MUCH TOO SHY (1942) is an hilarious romp and mine and my son’s favourite film in the boxset. George, a handyman and artist who designs the film posters for the local cinema, takes an art class to teach him to give the womens’ heads he draws fabulous bodies to go with their free-floating craniums. But when some scandalous nudie pictures of local ladies mysteriously turn up in the papers, bodies an’ all, guess who gets the blame…!
This one features comedian Jimmy Clitheroe as George’s wise-beyond-his-years little brother. ‘Show me a woman and I’ll show you trouble…!’ Fans of the CARRY-ON movies will be thrilled to see a ridiculously young-looking Charles Hawtrey in this one as a ‘brother brush’ of George’s, and our favourite comic song, ‘I’m Delivering The Morning Milk’ is in it too.
GET CRACKING (1943) is a full-on, all-out World War Two film that sees the hapless George joining the LDF or LOCAL DEFENCE VOLUNTEERS. While he cares for a little girl evacuee and builds his own honest-to-God tank in his spare time out of odds-and-ends, he has great fun also trying to get one over on a rival LDF platoon. The enemy is Hitler, George! Wouldn’t it be better if you rival LDF chaps joined forces? It’s just a thought…
BELL-BOTTOM GEORGE (1944) is another war film that sees George joining the Navy in a case of mistaken identity, while dating a pretty WREN and accidentally cracking a spy ring that the British government has been trying to track down themselves.
George has always wanted to be in the Navy though. Maybe his efforts in uncovering the spy ring and entertaining the troops with his little ukelele might be enough to gain him admission? We’ll see what the man whose uniform he’s wearing has got to say about that…! Charles Hawtrey is here too, plus the world’s oddest-sounding crickets.
HE SNOOPS TO CONQUER (1945) sees George working as a lowly tea-boy for the corrupt Tangleton local council. When he’s tasked with surveying the entire population of Tangleton as to their working and living conditions, George does a thorough job of it.
So thorough, in fact, that he accidentally unmasks the local councillors for the lying, pocket-lining rats they are and exposes the terrible disparity between rich and poor in post-war Tangleton. Eeeeeh, some of the films have a nice bit of social commentary in ’em an’ all, you know, lol.
George also gets entangled (in Tangleton) with a wacky toff inventor and his attractive daughter in this one, and the excellent comic song ‘If You Want To Get Your Picture In The Press, You Must Be Different, Some Kind Of Way’ is here too.
I DIDN’T DO IT (1945) sees George set off to the Big Smoke to pursue a career on the stage with his recitations and comic songs, only to find himself accused of the murder of a rich man in the same boarding-house.
The way George innocently lands himself in trouble with the police with his unfailing honesty is so funny here, and the back-story of the murder is really exciting, reminding me of old German silent movie star Emil Jannings in VARIETÉ.
GEORGE ON CIVVY STREET (1946) sees a hopeful George being debriefed and finally sent home from the war. He’s looking forward to running the old family pub again, in its charming rural location, and hooking up once more with the girl he more than likes.
But she owns a rival pub, you see, and now it’s run by scurrilous individuals who want to see George out of business. Will they succeed in their fiendish plan? This one includes a naughty, wholly unforeseen strip-a-gram that had myself and my son in stitches.
Most of the songs contain the sauciest of sexual innuendo that saw George in trouble with the BBC back in the day. I understand that crotchety old Auntie Beeb wasn’t at all impressed with ‘Me Little Stick Of Blackpool Rock,’ which unfortunately doesn’t feature on the boxset.
There’s still more innuendo here than you can shake a stick at, though, so enjoy a sly little giggle at these genius songs. George is probably looking down in approval, grinning his big toothy grin as he lovingly fingers his ukelele. Eeeeeeh, careful now, you cheeky fast cat…!
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
You can contact Sandra at: