Zero Hour!

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For other uses, see Zero Hour (disambiguation).
Zero Hour!
theatrical film poster
Directed by Hall Bartlett
Produced by John C. Champion
Hall Bartlett
Screenplay by Arthur Hailey
Hall Bartlett
John Champion
Story by Arthur Hailey
Starring Dana Andrews
Linda Darnell
Sterling Hayden
Music by Ted Dale
Arthur Hamilton
Cinematography John F. Warren
Edited by John C. Fuller
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • November 13, 1957 (1957-11-13) (US)
Running time 81 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Zero Hour! is a 1957 drama movie directed by Hall Bartlett from a screenplay by Arthur Hailey. It stars Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell and Sterling Hayden and features Peggy King, Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch, Geoffrey Toone and Jerry Paris. The film was released by Paramount Pictures.[1] Zero Hour! was an adaptation of Hailey's 1956 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation play Flight into Danger.[2] Hailey also co-wrote a novel with John Castle based on the same premise, titled Flight Into Danger: Runway Zero-Eight (1958).

Zero Hour! was used as the basis for the 1980 parody film Airplane!. Because Zero Hour! was owned at the time by Paramount, the makers of Airplane!, also a Paramount picture, were able to use the screenplay almost verbatim.[3]


During the closing days of World War II, six members of pilot Ted Stryker's squadron are killed due to a command decision made by him. Years later, in civilian life in Ottawa, Canada, a guilt-stricken Stryker goes through many jobs and his marriage is in trouble.

Stryker finds a note at home: His wife Ellen has taken their young son Joey, and they are boarding a plane and leaving him. He rushes to the airport to board the same flight, which is Air Canada Flight 714 from Ottawa to Vancouver. He asks Ellen for one last chance, but Ellen explains that she no longer can love a man she does not respect.

The flight is routine until stewardess Janet Turner begins the meal service. Meat or fish are the options. When a number of passengers begin feeling sick, a doctor aboard determines that there must have been something toxic in the fish.

While attending to others, including Stryker's son, the stewardess and doctor discover that both the pilot and co-pilot have also become seriously ill. No one is left to fly the plane. Stryker is the only one with experience, but he has not flown for 10 years and has no familiarity with aircraft of this size. Due to dense fog on the ground obscuring the runway, Flight 714 must bypass Calgary and continue on towards its destination of Vancouver before it can land.

Stryker's superior in the war, the tough-minded Captain Treleaven, is summoned to Vancouver airport to instruct him how to land the plane. Ellen joins her husband in the cockpit to handle the radio. Ordered to remain airborne, Stryker makes another command decision to bring the airliner down because passengers will die if they do not get to a hospital soon.



Bosley Crowther called Zero Hour an "exciting contemplation of a frightening adventure in the skies" based on a "good terse script...Dana Andrews as the hero and Sterling Hayden as the captain are first-rate in these roles, keeping them hard and unrelenting."[4] Time magazine called the script a "bloopy inflation of a 1956 television show" and said its "moral struggle comes off fairly well, but the general situation is as patently contrived as one of Walter Mitty's daydreams."[5]



  1. ^ Overview on
  2. ^ Ben Mankiewicz, commentator (July 17, 2010). TCM presentation of "Zero Hour!". Turner Classic Movies. 
  3. ^ Commentary, Airplane! DVD
  4. ^ Bosley Crowther (November 14, 1957). "The Screen - 'Zero Hour, Aviation Melodrama at Loew's State". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-03-23. 
  5. ^ "Cinema: The New Pictures". Time. December 9, 1957. Retrieved 2011-03-23. 

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