Zero Hour!

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For other uses, see Zero Hour (disambiguation).
Zero Hour!
Zerohourposter.jpg
Theatrical 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
Narrated by William Conrad
Music by Ted Dale
Arthur Hamilton
Cinematography John F. Warren
Edited by John C. Fuller
Production
company
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • November 13, 1957 (1957-11-13)
Running time 81 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $400,764.[1]

Zero Hour! is a 1957 drama film directed by Hall Bartlett from a screenplay by Arthur Hailey, Hall Bartlett and John Champion. It stars Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell and Sterling Hayden and features Peggy King, Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch, Geoffrey Toone and Jerry Paris in supporting roles. The film was released by Paramount Pictures.[2] Zero Hour! was an adaptation of Hailey's original 1956 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation teleplay Flight into Danger.[3] Hailey also co-wrote a novel with John Castle based on the same plot, titled Flight Into Danger: Runway Zero-Eight (1958).

Plot[edit]

During the closing days of World War II, six members of his Royal Canadian Air Force fighter squadron are killed due to a command decision pilot Ted Stryker (Dana Andrews) made. Years later, in civilian life in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, a guilt-stricken Stryker goes through many jobs and his marriage is in trouble.

Stryker finds a note at home; his wife Ellen (Linda Darnell) has taken their young son Joey, and are leaving him, flying to Vancouver. He rushes to the Ottawa Airport to board the same flight, Trans-Canada Air Lines Flight 714. He asks his wife for one last chance, but Ellen says that she no longer can love a man she does not respect.

The routine flight becomes deadly when stewardess Janet Turner (Peggy King) begins the meal service. Meat or fish are the options. When a number of passengers begin feeling sick, a doctor (Geoffrey Toone) 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. Although it stays in the air on autopilot, no one is left to fly the airliner. After the stewardess checks with other passengers, she determines that Stryker is the only one with flying 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 all other intermediate airports, to continue on towards its destination of Vancouver before it can land.

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

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Both sound stage sets of the airliner interior and aerial footage of a Douglas DC-4 were used in Zero Hour!.

Principal photography for Zero Hour! took place from May 8 to May 28, 1957 with retakes on July 23–24, 1957. The primary film location was at Santa Ana, California.[4] Nightclub and television performer Peggy King made her feature film debut in Zero Hour!, recording the song "Zero Hour" for Columbia Records, to coincide with the film's release.[1] [N 1]

Reception[edit]

The New York Times reviewer 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."[5] Time magazine, however, 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."[6]

In 1971, the film was reprised as a made-for-television movie, Terror in the Sky, a Movie of the Week special with Doug McClure in the title role.[7]Zero Hour! was also used as the basis for the parody film Airplane! (1980). Because Zero Hour! was owned at the time by Paramount Pictures, the makers of Airplane!, also a Paramount feature, were able to use the screenplay almost verbatim.[8]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ At the time, the Los Angeles Times reported that Harrison Reeder of Robert Alexander Productions attempted to purchase the screen rights to the Zero Hour story as a star vehicle for actor Steve Cochran.[1]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Notes: Zero Hour." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: October 20, 2014.
  2. ^ "Overview: Zero Hour." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: October 20, 2014.
  3. ^ Mankiewicz, Ben. "TCM presentation of "Zero Hour!" Turner Classic Movies, July 17, 2010.
  4. ^ "Original print information: Zero Hour." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: October 20, 2014.
  5. ^ Crowther, Bosley. "The Screen: Zero Hour, aviation melodrama at Loew's State." The New York Times, November 14, 1957. Retrieved: March 23, 2011.
  6. ^ "Cinema: The New Pictures." Time, December 9, 1957. Retrieved: March 23, 2011.
  7. ^ Pendo 1985, p. 282.
  8. ^ Tyner, Adam. "Airplane! (Blu-ray)." DVD Talk, September 25, 2011. Retrieved: October 20, 2014.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Pendo, Stephen. Aviation in the Cinema. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1985. ISBN 0-8-1081-746-2.

External links[edit]