Airplane! turns 35

airplane-movie-02An early script had Wally and the Beaver bringing the plane down.  In the end, of course, the only link between Airplane! and Leave It to Beaver is the scene shown to the right.  That’s just one of the bits you’ll pick up from this:

Surely you can’t be serious: An oral history of Airplane!

In 1980, a trio of gentlemen from Wisconsin – Jim Abrahams and brothers David and Jerry Zucker – took a cast of predominantly non-comedic actors, put a parodic spin on the disaster-film genre, and created a film which not only made moviegoers howl with laughter but also earned critical acclaim. Airplane! celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, and if you happen to be in Nashville this weekend, you’ll have a chance to catch the film flying high on the big screen once again: The Wild West Comedy Festival will be holding a screening at The Belcourt on Saturday, April 18, at 7:30 p.m., after which special guests David and Jerry Zucker will participate in a Q&A.

In an effort to increase awareness of the screening as well as apply salve to the wound of those who aren’t able to attend, we spoke with as many people involved in Airplane! as we possibly could—including the Zuckers, Jim Abrahams, and cast members Robert Hays, Frank Ashmore, Al White, Lee Bryant, Ross Harris, Jill Whelan, Maureen McGovern, David Leisure, Gregory Itzin, Marcy Goldman, and Jimmie Walker—and asked them to reflect on their experiences while making the film as well as their astonishment that audiences still love Airplane! Sadly, Otto declined to go on the record with his reminiscences, but those who were willing to open up had quite a story to tell, which you can read straight through or use the section guide on the right to flip around.