Cast and Crew: Linda Darnell, Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch, William Conrad
What It’s About: When food poisoning disables the crew, former fighter pilot Ted Stryker (Dana Andrews) must overcome his crippling fears (caused by a raid gone wrong) and bring the plane in safely. In the process he’ll have to come to terms with one of the survivors, Captain Treleaven (Sterling Hayden), who just happens to be in ground control overseeing the landing of the airliner.
Why Watch it Today?: Does the plot synopsis sound familiar? That’s because large portions of today’s movie were reused (with a comedic spin) by the Zuckers-Abrahms-Zucker team in their hit Airplane!, released on this date in 1980. Watching Zero Hour! is a surreal experience for those who’ve seen the spoof, although Sterling Hayden impresses by being even more belligerent and over-the-top than Robert Stack in the same role. The film was also written by Arthur Hailey, who would later write the novels that were the basis for the Airport series-the other major inspiration for Airplane!