I have a new cheap DVD to enthusiastically recommend: the Airplane! “Don’t Call Me Shirley!” Edition.
This modern classic started a whole new genre of film comedy: the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink free-association goofball approach to humor. Even knowing all the jokes, rewatching the movie, a good proportion of them are still funny.
It’s surprising just how many veterans showed up — Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, Robert Stack, and of course Leslie Nielsen — and how only some of them got the joke. (As discussed in the commentary, Stacks says, “we are the joke.”) I knew this parodied Airport, but I had no idea that this movie was such a faithful remake of the 1957 Zero Hour!, to the point of copying dialogue and scene staging. (They bought the rights.)
This DVD version makes it all fresh again by including some really neat extras. The expanded edition runs the movie with frequent interruptions to include deleted scenes, scenes from the original ZH, and interviews with the writer/directors and a whole variety of stars. It’s like watching the film with a really enjoyable and knowledgeable buddy.
There is also a verbal commentary with the three writer/directors and an on-screen trivia track (I recommend running both at once). Surprisingly, these have material that isn’t in the extended cut, so they don’t simply repeat each other. I had no idea I’d enjoy so much sitting through the movie again not once but twice.
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