1957 movie written by potboiler poster-boy Arthur Hailey. In the mid-70s, after the Zuckers accidentally taped the movie one night, they bought the rights and ribbed the script almost verbatim. (Identical line from both movies: "Our chances of survival depend on finding someone who can not only fly this plane, but who
have fish for dinner.")
is for Yarmulke
Cloth skullcap thing draped over an Air Israel plane near the end. Yes. We struggled with 'Y'.
is for X-Rated
The producers had to change the position of the Autopilot inflate nozzle becaus it looked a little too obvious that Elaine wasn't, um, blowing.
is for White Zone
For loading and unloading.
no stopping. Probably. The bickering announcers at the start of the movie were a real-life couple. ("Listen, Betty. Don't start with your 'white zone' shit again!")
is for Videogame
Chunky-pixelled Atari 2600 'Basketball' being played by two air-traffic controllers. The
kid with the PSP will look old in 20 years.
is for Unconsciousness
State entered into by one of the badgerers from the Religious Consciousness Church, after being punched by Ted Striker.
is for Travolta
Shooting at the same lot as the dancin' one, Hays popped over for a chat and regaled him with
gags. Except the 'Stayin' Alive' piss-take, that is.
is for Striker
Ted. Robert Nays nabbed the role of the ex-World War Two pilot forced to sweatily confront his demons and land the plane. David Letterman read for it. As did Barry Manilow. But they didn't get it. Gutted.
is for Randy
The singing, unmarried flight attendant ("There is only one river! There is only one sea/ And it flows through you!/ And it flows through me!") A gag at the expense of Helen Reddy's singing nun in
is for Quitting
Smoking, drinking, amphetamines, sniffing glue...A bad week to kick 'em all, according to Lloyd Bridges' ravaged ground controller McCroskey.
is for Passengers
The movie was shot in 34 days, with airport interiors filmed on the fly at a busy LAX. Check out the glorious goof in one of the Ted/Elaine corridor tussles, where a gaffer can clearly be seen laying a cable in the background. So to speak...
is for Oveur
"Roger! Request vector, over! We have clearance, Clarence. Roger, Roger. What's our vector, Victor?" Etc...
is for Nielsen
Leslie. Canadian TV stalwart noted for serious roles before
, mined his genius for doing and saying really stupid, farcical things with the deadpan gravity of a doctor confirming an inoperable tumour. Notorious for keeping everyone amused/annoyed on-set by making farty noises with a whoopee cushion.
is for Murdock
Roger. Pilot. Played by 7'2" basketball superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Abdul-Jabbar also starred as a rangey adversary for Bruce Lee in
Game Of Death
. He took the
gig solely to finance a $30,000 rug (salary - $35,000)
is for Leon
Air-traffic controller with weight issues cruelly exaggerated by the wonderful Stephen Stucker's crazed queen, Johnny. "Fog's getting thicker," someone remarks. "AND LEON'S GETTING LARGER!" squeals Johnny.
is for Kentucky Fried Theater Company
Jim Abrahams and Jerry/David Zucker were Wisconsin University pals who formed the group in the early '70s as a puerile response to the popular but tame
Saturday Night Live
, they made the deeply ace
Kentucky Fried Movie
is for Jive
The Zuckers wrote a white-man, Jewish version of badass vernacular for the two black dudes, but they laughed off all the 'honky' references and just improvved it. Although the elderly white lady who 'speaks Jive' out-slangs the both of them. ("Chump don wan no help. Chump don git no help. Jive ass dude don got no brains anyhow!")
is for Illness
Fish-related food-poisoning. Symptoms: slight fever, dryness of the throat, dizziness, itchy rash, severe muscle spasms, drooling, flatulence, poor bastard reduced to a quivering, wasted piece of jelly.
is for Hospital
A big building with patients, but that's not important right now.
is for Grown Man Naked
Captain Oveur wonders whether or not cockpit-visiting moppet Joey has ever seen one, in a gag that wouldn't even get past the script brainstorm stage these days. But despite making the cut, it was hugely toned down from the Zuckers' original ("Joey, have you ever sucked a grown man's cock?")
is for From Here To Eternity
The Zuckers claim to have never seen it - despite Ted and Elaine's homaging beach clinch. ("We're bombing the storage depots at Daiquiri at 18:00 hours. We're coming in from the North, below their radar." "When will you be back?" "I can't tell you that. It's classified.")
is for Ethel
Merman, that is. Jewish stage and film-musical star whose career spanned four decades. Famous for her belting voice and perfect pitch. Played herself as a delusional, shell-shocked pilot. Gag entirely lost on UK audience members under the age of 62.
is for Drinking Problem
Ted Striker's. Aims: mouth. Achieves: forehead.
is for Captain
Clarence Oveur. Paedophile. Played by
TV star Peter Graves. When Graves' agent initially sent him the
script, he responded by calling it "the worst piece of junk". So that wonderfully judged, deadly straight performance? Totally genuine. He just didn't get it.
is for Balls
Juggling Balls. When Ted does his
Saturday Night Fever
-apeing dance at the seedy Detroit dive, the clumsy, Lothario stylings are funny. Elaine spinning him round by the legs is funnier.
The Cossack/breakdance-style dancing is
funny. The no-hands, Cossack/breakdance-style dancing is life-threateningly funny. The bit where someone chucks the clumsy Lothario, no-hands, Cossack/breakdance-style dancer a few juggling balls for effect is the funniest thing ever filmed.
is for Automatic Pilot
In real life, a complex hydraulic system. In
, three positions... 1. Sturdy and steady as she goes; 2. In receipt of some lovin', nodding vigorously; 3. Blissed-out afterglow, fag on.
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