Zero Hour! (1957)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Fans of Zucker and Abrahams' blockbuster parody Airplane! who are curious to see the film's source of inspiration should check out this earnest 1957 thriller. The comedy writers practically lifted entire scenes and passages of dialogue from the original, yet carried everything to an absurd level to get belly laughs. Contemporary viewers who manage to push that spoof out of their minds may be surprised to discover that the inital picture works on its own terms; it has a neat, satisfying central arc, with Dana Andrews as an Air Force Veteran still scarred by memories of his slip-ups during the war. He gets a startling opportunity to redeem himself and his reputation (and repair his crumbling marriage) by assuming the controls on a doomed commercial flight. If he succeeds, it will mean saving the lives of two dozen ill passengers including his young son. The suspense in the picture is satisfactory; until the final scenes, we're entirely uncertain of the outcome. This film lacks the degree of psychological depth present in a few other nail-biters of the period, such as Alex March's Ransom, and the picture cuts out several minutes before it should, without letting us watch the events that follow the crisis itself and experience more satisfying character wrap-ups. But it's miles ahead of most of the elephantine disaster pictures that emerged in the 1970s. It's far from a great picture, but nonetheless a fun and competently made programmer that plays best on late night cable or in Saturday afternoon matinees.
Action & Adventure , Classics , Drama , Horror , Mystery & Suspense
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In Theaters:
Warner Home Video

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Dana Andrews
as Lt. Ted Stryker
Sterling Hayden
as Capt. Martin Treleaven
Linda Darnell
as Ellen Stryker
Peggy King
as Janet Turner
Geoffrey Toone
as Dr. Baird
Jerry Paris
as Tony Decker
Carole Eden
as Mrs. Wilson
Ray Ferrell
as Joey Stryker
David Thursby
as Whitmond
Russell Thorson
as Flight Dispatcher
Joanne Wade
as Baby Sitter
Richard Keith
as Station Manager
Steve London
as Copilot Stewart
Raymond Farrell
as Joey Strvcker
John Ashley
as TV Singer
Willis B. Bouchey
as RCAF Doctor
Maxine Cooper
as Sick Woman on Plane
Noel Drayton
as Vancouver Control Man
Fintan Meyler
as Hysterical Woman
Larry Thor
as Vancouver Radio Dispatcher
Bob Stevenson
as Air Traffic Controller
Mary Newton
as Mrs. Purty
Willard Sage
as Vancouver Radar Controller
Will J. White
as Vancouver Policeman
Hope Summers
as Mrs. Summers
Arthur Hanson
as Reporter
Roy Gordon
as Frank Graham
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Critic Reviews for Zero Hour!

All Critics (2)

I give it props for being one of the first of the disaster airplane films.

Full Review… | March 5, 2010
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Spoof classicity aside, the film is actually well-paced, fun to watch, and genuinely tense at times. It's a hit!

June 26, 2007

Audience Reviews for Zero Hour!


Dana Andrews stars in this early disaster epic as a former World War II fighter pilot traumatized by his combat experiences. While traveling on a routine flight across Canada, he is forced to fly the plane when its entire crew is sickened with food poisoning. This plot should sound familiar; it was the basis for the 1980 comedy Airplane!, written by Jerry Zucker, David Zucker and Jim Abrahms. The trio copied liberally from this movie, lifting entire scenes and pages of dialogue verbatim and expanding some themes to hilarious proportions. They even copied the "!" in the title. This was never meant to be a funny movie, but if you are a fan of Airplane! you will be hard pressed to keep from busting out laughing to the many references. Zero Hour! is a well done thriller movie with Andrews, Sterling Hayden and Linda Darnell turning in convincing performances and the plot moves along at a very good pace. It definitely was not "sluggish like a wet sponge."

John Tandlich
John Tandlich

Good thriller, very suspenseful and the acting is good by Dana Andrews and Linda Darnell. Sterling Hayden is a bit extreme though. The score is good, the pacing is excellent. But even though it is a serious movie, you can't help but snicker at the scenes that "Airplane!" copied so hilariously well 23 years later. I kept expecting Stephen Stucker to jump out with a hysterically funny one liner!

James Higgins
James Higgins

One of the first so called disaster movies centers around a plane full of passengers sick from food poisoning and a old army pilot named Ted Striker who is asked to bring it down safely but theres just a few problems bad weather and Ted has flashbacks from the war. if anyone has heard this plot before its cause this is the orignal movie that *Airplane* spoofed a bunch of years later except this isnt played for laughs not a great movie but not horrible either pretty decent amount of suspense yet overdramatic like most 50's movies.

ken j
ken j

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