Monday, November 4, 2019

ZERO HOUR! / Reckless, Breathless Adventure! - 1957

As promised, my posts this month are going to be all over the place! So today, we're going back to 1957 for a camp cult classic starring Dana Andrews... During a commercial flight, both pilots and a number of passengers suffer food poisoning, thus forcing an ex-WWII fighter pilot to try and land the airliner in bad weather and heavy fog, with the assistance of his brave wife and a Captain he knew from his past!

This one stars Dana (made this movie directly after CURSE OF THE DEMON) Andrews, Linda (CLIMAX!) Darnell, Sterling (THE ASPHALT JUNGLE) Hayden, Elroy (CRAZYLEGS) 'Crazylegs' Hirsch, Geoffrey (DR. WHO AND THE DALEKS) Toone, Jerry (THE NAKED AND THE DEAD) Paris and Peggy (ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY) King.

Just days before the war ended, Lt. Ted Stryker led a fighter unit where six of his pilots lost their lives. He blames himself and cannot get over it...

His trepidation bleeds over into his post war life with his wife and son. He gets home to find a note that says she and the kid have taken a flight to visit her sister...

Whoa!!.. Check it out, there I am on a flight back to the fifties, in order to get the Hell out of the present! I'm the guy at the top of the stairs.

Anyway, back to the show... Ted just makes the flight and his son gets to visit the cockpit as dad accompanies him. That's Crazylegs there on the right. A waitress comes in and asks everyone if they want meat or fish for dinner...

All seems great so far, so, Tony pulls out his 'Mike Meadows' sock puppet and asks the stewardess for a kiss!.. Just watch the movie, you'll see what happens!

Okay ever'bloody, fasten those seat belts and lean forward!.......

Suddenly, a woman is very sick and a doctor on the flight attends to her. Then, Ted's son becomes ill. Both have terrible stomach aches!

They hit some turbulence and the co-pilot smashes his face on the controls, knocking him out cold... Hmmm, a pattern is starting to appear!

At this point, the doctor has determined that the fish was bad and was the cause of the sickness. Crazylegs then remembers, he had fish too!! Seconds later, he collapses.

Old coot has the solution to all those problems!!

Guess who's flying the ding-danged airplane now! It's either the Invisible Man, or, no one, and I'm putting my money on the latter!

Ted has no choice, no one else knows anything about flying an airplane, only him. Reluctantly, he agrees, and his wife Ellen joins in to assist.

Break time, here's a cool shot as this gal watches some rock and roll on her TV set.

Then, Capt. Treleaven is brought in to help Ted (who's having flashbacks from the war) land the plane. The Captain still has a beef with Stryker over the incident with his lost crew members. But, he agrees and asks for a cigarette. He then mutters, what a lousy time to quit smoking!

Sterling is a ton of fun to watch here, my favorite character in the movie!

Guess what goes wrong now! Right, good guess, yeah, the freakin' radio goes dead!! After some tense moments though, Ted is able to tune in to the the ground crew again.

Mom comes back to check on the kid. Looks like he's turning into a zombie! Makes you wonder why all the people who had fish thought it tasted just fine!! I mean, like... ZOMBIES?!

Okay, we're getting close to the runway, and the Captain is yelling his head off, saying... You're coming in too fast, you're coming in too fast, slow down!!

So, Ted does everything in his power to slow the plane down!..

He finally brings the plane in safely (just the landing gear were damaged) and all the sick people are rushed to the hospital, saving the day! Well, there you go, another post bites the dust, here, at The Dungeon!!


KD said...

This 1957 movie was the direct inspiration for AIRPLANE! Leslie Nielsen told me that the key to his acting in AIRPLANE was to play it totally straight-faced, but outrageous. While I've never seen ZERO HOUR, it sure seems that the same method was used by the cast of this film! And ZERO HOUR was considered a dramatic thriller in the 1950s? Surely you can't be serious! (Oh, but I am serious, and don't call me Shirley!!)

Grant said...

Along with inspiring AIRPLANE, there all sorts of small moments to notice. Somehow one of mine is that girl watching TV with a remote control. A lot of people (including people who should know) seem to think there was no remote control TV till a whole lot later than the late 50's. But there was just a lot LESS of it.

EG-Markus said...

You do know this got remade as AIRPLANE!, right?

TABONGA! said...

Hi ever'bloody - I did know about AIRPLANE! but I would not have gotten all these great comments had I spilled the beans...

Hey K - Kudos for getting to speak with Leslie Nielsen, cool!

KD said...

I interviewed him back in 1980 or 81, for a film zine that went belly-up. Then the interview (mostly about his sci-fi and horror roles), went to another film zine, and I recently passed it along to another publisher earlier this year. L.N. kept squeezing his little "fart machine" while I was trying to ask him "serious" questions. Not a cool interview on my part, my first (and only) with a celebrity/actor type. I was more at ease talking to behind-the-scenes folk.

Randall Landers said...

Actually, TCM runs this one from time to time, and don't miss it. I find it quite funny now that some thirty years later it was remade into one of my favorite movies of all time. And yes, Dana and Sterling are actually awesome in this.

My question is whether or not this film would even be notable if it weren't for being remade?

MDG14450 said...

I always wondered if you showed a double feature of Zero Hour and Airplane, which would be funnier to show second?

TC said...

TCM did show Zero Hour and Airplane! back to back at least once, in a marathon with some other "doomed flight" disaster movies. It may have also included Crash Landing and The High and the Mighty.

One fun fact we learn from Hollywood: evidently, all pilots are war veterans suffering from PTSD.

It was remade in 1971 as a made-for-TV movie, Terror In the Sky, with Doug McClure, Lois Nettleton, and Roddy McDowall. Unlike Airplane!, the 1971 version was not a comedy. Not intentionally, anyway.

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