In 1980 the second film from ZAZ, David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker was released that film was Airplane. The ZAZ team had developed a successful theater company that parodied late night television’s Classic Movie shows and their commercials. They came across a film Zero Hour from 1957 Paramount Studios. Though ZAZ’s previous film had been like their theater shows they feared they lacked the experience to write a feature film. So they bought the rights to Zero Hour and rewrote it as a comedy.
The casting of some Hollywood’s fading dramatic actors who had never done comedy was their original stroke of genius. Robert Stack, Peter Graves, Leslie Nielson, and Lloyd Bridges played their parts like the straight men they were known as being and the writing provided the comedy.
The film was a critical and financial success. Airplane changed the face of comedy forever. It is considered to be the 2nd best comedy film placed just after Monty Python’s Life of Brian.