Spoof disaster film that became a cultural icon

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IT was 30 years ago and I was just a kid but I can still remember crying with laughter the entire way through comedy spoof film, Airplane!

Just thinking about the one-liners that hurtle at you thick and fast makes me chuckle.

Rumack: “Can you fly this plane, and land it?”

Ted Striker: “Surely you can’t be serious.”

Rumack: “I am serious ... and don’t call me Shirley.”

Sadly Leslie Nielsen, whose role as Dr Rumack saw him utter this most famous phrase, died on 29 November last year.

A serious actor for 30 years prior to the release of Airplane! Nielsen so excelled at delivering the inane non-sequiturs with a straight face that his comedy career was launched and he soon became a cult figure.

The film was directed by Jim Abrahams and brothers David and Jerry Zucker, three Jewish kids from the Milwaukee suburbs who barely knew one end of the camera from the other, and was based on Arthur Hailey’s 1957 film Zero Hour!

A huge financial success, Airplane! grossed over $83 million in North America alone against a budget of just $3.5 million.

Released in 1980, these days most people will have only seen the film on TV or DVD.

But to mark the film’s anniversary and to commemorate the work of Leslie Nielson, the Rex Cinema in Berkhamsted will be showing Airplane! on Thursday, January 20 at 2pm and 7.30pm.

Press Officer for the Rex Jane Clucas urges people not to miss such a great opportunity: “This is a rare chance to see a classic film on the big screen”.

Call 01442 877759 for tickets - Monday to Saturday, 10.30am to 6pm and Sunday, 4.30pm to 6.30pm - or go to the box office in person. Tickets cannot be booked online.