Until I was an adult I knew this movie as Flying High!, because that’s what it was called in Australia, and that’s where I first saw it, as an impressionable young boy of thirteen.
The humour comes thick and fast in Airplane!, to the point where it often seems like the writers have just indiscriminately thrown as many jokes on screen as they could. It’s impossible to pick up every audio and visual gag in a single viewing. I’ve seen it a number of times and I still find something new to laugh at every now and then. Of course, not every joke hits the runway, but Airplane! has a pretty good hit rate.
For a long time after I first saw Airplane! I thought that the auto pilot in an aircraft was genuinely represented by an inflatable captain. I mean, why would it not be? That makes perfect sense. Except… it really doesn’t. For some reason, in a movie that is as obviously stupid as this (and sometimes as stupidly obvious), it never crossed my mind that the blow-up pilot was simply the set-up for a fellatio joke later on. Then again, I was thirteen, so maybe I should be excused for my innocence!
Rumack: Captain, how soon can you land?
Captain Oveur: I can’t tell.
Rumack: You can tell me. I’m a doctor.
Captain Oveur: No. I mean I’m just not sure.
Rumack: Well, can’t you take a guess?
Captain Oveur: Well, not for another two hours.
Rumack: You can’t take a guess for another two hours?