Ted Stryker (Dana Andrews) hasn’t been the same since his risky flying inadvertently caused the death of several pilots during the war. When his wife tries to leave him, Ted impulsively follows her onto an airplane to talk to her. Of course, she doesn’t want anything to do with him because he’s losing his marbles. When an outbreak of food poisoning makes the pilots gravely ill, there is no one left to fly the plane except for Ted. Will Ted be able to save the lives of the passengers, or will he crack under the pressure?
If the plot of Zero Hour! sounds familiar, it’s because this is the movie that Airplane! made fun of. If you know that comedy classic by heart (like I do), then you’re guaranteed to have a blast with this flick. You’ll definitely have a feeling of déjà vu while watching it because some of the situations, character names, and dialogue are identical. It’s also a lot of fun seeing the actors playing things very, very seriously (especially Sterling Hayden as Stryker’s former commanding officer).
Curiously, Zero Hour! is still fairly entertaining in it’s own right. It’s a solid little B level disaster movie melodrama that probably didn’t deserved to get lampooned, but I’m glad it did. Although the pacing is a bit uneven, it’s a heck of a lot more entertaining than those cheap Airport sequels, that’s for damn sure. Speaking of Airport, the script was co-written by none other than that film’s screenwriter, Arthur Hailey. This guy sure as shit got a lot of mileage out of airborne disaster movies, didn’t he?