AIRPLANE! (1980) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

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:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

JAMES CAMERON’S ‘TITANIC.’ (1997) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

titanic poster

JAMES CAMERON’S ‘TITANIC.’ (1997) WRITTEN, PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY JAMES CAMERON. STARRING KATE WINSLET, LEONARDO DICAPRIO, FRANCES FISHER, BILLY ZANE, BERNARD HILL, KATHY BATES, GLORIA STUART, BILL PAXTON, SUZY AMIS AND DAVID WARNER. CHEESY THEME TUNE PERFORMED BY CELINE DION. MUSIC BY JAMES HORNER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘If celebrities didn’t want people pawing through their garbage and saying they’re gay, then they shouldn’t have tried to express themselves creatively. Well, at least I’ll always have my crank calls. Old Lady From Titanic, you stink…!’

Homer Simpson of THE SIMPSONS in the episode about the celebrities, starring Kim Basinger, Alec Baldwin and Ron Howard.

I always regret that I didn’t go to see this ‘Nineties blockbuster in the cinema when it was first released, as it must have been spectacular to witness on the big screen. At the time, however, I was fantastically and disastrously embroiled in an affair with a married man that was the blight of my youth and I had, therefore, other things on my mind. Such as his lies. Oh, his terrible, terrible lies!

I love you. He loved me not, gentle readers. I’ll love you till I die. I wish I could set Alanis Morrisette on him, just for that one alone. She feels very strongly about that kind of lie in particular.

My wife and I haven’t slept together for years. What was the new baby called again? I’ll leave my wife for you when the kids are in college. They were toddlers. I’ll never leave you. He left me three fucking times before he left me for good.

Each time hurt worse than the last and made me actually contemplate thinking about considering ending it all, if you get me. Luckily I decided not to bother with all that high drama or I’d never have met you guys.

And so on and so forth, anyway. You don’t need to know how low I sunk. Suffice it to say that it ended. Now let us focus no more on the follies of my youth and concentrate on the big-budget cheese-fest that is TITANIC, the biggest film of the ‘Nineties or maybe even any other decade for that matter.

It’s common practice, of course, to slag it off but I love it and I always have. It’s got gorgeous dresses and fabulous hats, a stunning Kate Winslet, an actress whom I’ve liked in everything I’ve ever seen her in, a broodingly handsome Billy Zane and a plot based on historical fact. The sinking of the TITANIC bit, that is, not the Rose and Jack bit.

The only things I dislike about the film are that song by Celine Dion and the choice of Leonardo DiCaprio as Kate Winslet’s love interest. I’ve never liked the rather baby-faced youth and I did not like him in this. The very thought of being in a position where I would actually choose a life of poverty with this… this child over a life of comfort and luxury as the wife of the rich and gorgeous Billy Zane brings me out in hives, I kid you not.

And I’d much rather settle down to watch TITANIC on December the twenty-sixth than actually going out to brave the shops again like some crazy people do, this time to attempt to exchange the rubbish presents foisted on them by distant relatives and friends for slightly better stuff.

It’s true I neither want nor need a dozen gift-sets of the same foot-care cosmetics I didn’t want last year but what the hey. I’ll simply re-gift ’em next year and on Saint Stephen’s Day, otherwise known as Boxing Day, I’ll stay in with TITANIC and a plate piled high with leftover-turkey sambos and mince pies and wallow in the delicious tragedy of it all.

Rose DeWitt Bukater, played by English Rose Kate Winslet, is a young woman betrothed to Billy Zane’s super-rich heir to a steel fortune, Caledon Hockley. They are travelling to America with Rose’s uptight Ma and, when the TITANIC reaches its destination, Rose and Cal are to be married.

Ma DeWitt Bukater will be relieved a thousand times over when this happens. Her husband is dead and the family money, as she tells her daughter in no uncertain terms, is all gone. The film does a great, if grim, job of highlighting how precarious a woman’s position was in those days if she didn’t have a rich man to protect her.

Ma and Rose will be set for life if Rose marries Cal but Rose, desperate to escape the confines of the life that her Mother and Cal have laid down so rigidly for her, has been making goo-goo eyes at Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack Dawson, an impoverished, rootless artist who won his ticket for the Ship Of Dreams in a lucky hand of poker.

Jack, who meets Rose when he saves her from committing suicide by jumping over the side of the ship, is teaching Rose all manner of unsuitable things. How to spit like a man, how to go to a ‘real party,’ how to pose in the nip for a randy artist and how to have sweaty, cherry-popping sex in the back of parked automobiles. Tsk, tsk.

Cal and Mrs. DeWitt Bukater are fit to be tied, they’re so enraged at all of this. And then, on that fateful night in April 1912, the ‘unsinkable’ TITANIC hits the iceberg in the freezing cold North Atlantic Ocean and sails right into the history books as one of the biggest disasters in maritime history…

The film portrays the sinking magnificently, in my humble opinion. We see first the disbelief of the passengers, who’ve been assured that ‘God himself could not sink this ship.’ We see the band playing ‘music to drown by’ and the first-class passengers dressing in their finest clothes as they prepare, chillingly, ‘to go down like gentlemen.’ They still don’t really believe that they’ll be required to, though.

Then there’s the absolute chaos as the ship starts to go under and the passengers scramble madly for the wholly insufficient number of life-boats. Then there’s the terrifying splitting in half of the gigantic ship and the deaths by drowning and deaths caused by the knife-sharp cold.

There’s the much-parodied scene as Rose lies comfortably on a nice big door in the ocean while Jack, ever the good little steerage passenger, freezes his balls off in the bitterly cold water. ‘There was room on that raft for the two of youse!’ goes a certain Irish commercial for, I think, Maltesers or something. Well said, that man, whoever he was.

The story is book-ended at both ends with the modern-day story of the late Bill Paxton’s really cute treasure-hunter trying to find a fabulous necklace called The Heart Of The Ocean on the wreck of the sunken ship. The now one-hundred-and-one-year-old Rose is ‘helping’ him although, as the viewers see, ‘a woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets’ and she’s pulling the wool over his eyes a little bit, the ancient hussy.

There are so many iconic scenes to remember fondly when the ship sinks. Here are some of mine. The millions of plates falling off their shelves and into the water. The old man and woman huddled tightly together on their bed, determined to die together. The shell-shocked Captain when the water explodes in on him.

The girl floating dead in the water with her dress billowing out around her, filmed from below. Very artistic, is that. It could even be a painting. The ship’s officer shooting himself after he realises he’s killed someone while trying to keep order amidst the chaos.

The rich guy in his dinner jacket sitting there in shock as the water dares to breach the upper echelons of first class. Dreadfully vulgar, the mighty ocean, dontcha know. Must be from the Chippewa Falls ocean, that would explain its appalling lack of good taste…!

Ioan Gruffudd shouting ‘Is there anyone alive out there?’ as he trawls the icy waters for survivors with his little whistle. Rose in the rain on the Carpathia the day after the sinking realising that she has The Heart Of The Ocean in her pocket. After she’s had, like, the entire fucking ocean underneath her when she was on that floating bit of coffin, lol.

I simply adore Rose’s gorgeous red ‘committing suicide’ dress and dinky little shoes. I also love all the scenes that show the lower decks of the ship filling with water first. Those are all top-notch depictions and I honestly don’t see how anyone could have done them better.

I love this film and I watch it every Christmas without fail. I won’t hear a word said against it, not unless you’re bitching about the awful song, lol. Happy New Year now, y’all. Have a good one. And remember to keep a sharp eye out for Celine Dion, as far as I know she’s still alive and could still be singing…!

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:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor