I wrote about how the script of Airplane! is literally the script of another movie, Zero Hour!, with a little bit added to it. Many of the parts that seem like they have to be added later as a joke actually were in the film as serious dialog (Our survival hinges on one thing – finding someone who not only can fly this plane, but didn’t have fish for dinner.).
While on a flight from Toronto, Ontario, to Vancouver, British Columbia, the pilots at the controls of a Canadair North Star, a large commercial airliner, fall victim to food poisoning. Approximately half of the passengers have also been incapacitated by eating the same fish served to the pilots. After the stewardess (Corinne Conley) asks for help from the passengers, George Spencer (James Doohan), an ex-Second World War Spitfire fighter pilot, is forced to take over. His wife (Kate Reid) is able to help him at the controls, but he is worried about his sick son. A storm over Vancouver makes matters worse, with George not only having to overcome harrowing wartime flashbacks, but also struggling with the controls of an unfamiliar aircraft, in order to bring the airliner down safely.
This is from a 1956 television movie, Flight into Danger, definitely pre-dating Zero Hour!
Wait. My whole life up until this point was a lie.
But then the rabbit hole got deeper. First, yes, this is the same Star Trek James Doohan SO HOW DID I NOW KNOW THIS SOONER, but this isn’t the final link to Airplane!
It turns out this movie inspired a book too.
The book Runway Zero-Eight was written by Arthur Hailey, described on Amazon only as, “An in-flight medical emergency, caused by food poisoning.”
It came out a little while after Zero Hour! and also inspired a lot of the dialog and action in Airplane!
BUT wait, there’s more.
After writing Runway Zero-Eight, Arthur Hailey was inspired to write another aviation related book–Airport.
Which was the source of the movie Airport–which had a huge influence on the movie Airplane!.
Is your head spinning yet?
The family tree ends up looking like this:
Edit: Tiff just sent me this awesome, longer version of a Zero Hour! / Airplane! mash up.