Peter Graves thought the script for what would eventually emerge as Airplane!: ”Don’t Call Me Shirley!” Edition was the most tasteless he’d ever read. Lloyd Bridges hopelessly searched for his character’s motivation. At least Robert Stack understood the madness behind Jim Abrahams and David and Jerry Zucker’s genre-pioneering spoof of 1970s airport films, explaining to Bridges, ”Lloyd, we are the joke.” Surely, they couldn’t be serious, but the contrarian casting of deadpan actors like Leslie Nielsen reinvented careers by making every utterance a punchline. ”What I had facing me were grandfather parts,” recalls Nielsen, who went on to further perfect faux gravitas in the Naked Gun films. EXTRAS The Pop-Up Video-style trivia track echoes a recycled commentary with the three directors and producer Jon Davison, and the deleted scenes are spare since, claims Jerry Zucker, ”there is nothing that’s actually funny on the cutting room floor.” At least the interviews, spliced within the film, are fresh: When Norman Alexander Gibbs and Al White eloquently describe their on-screen slang, the DVD provides subtitles — in jive — just in case Barbara Billingsley’s not around to translate.
Posted December 13 2005 — 12:00 AM EST
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