Pedro Almodóvar is back this week with I’m So Excited, a high-flying lark about sex, drugs, and past and present Spanish politics, all set on a commercial jet that can’t find a decent place to land. The cast of characters, played by Almodóvar alums like Javier Cámara and Cecilia Roth, and international breakouts like Raúl Arévalo, do whatever they can to distract themselves from potential doom, while the aircraft flies in limbo-like circles. The randy comedy got us thinking of other films that take to the skies, from sci-fi nightmares and fact-based dramas to war flicks and ensemble classics. Read on to see which movies made it on board.
The Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983). “There’s someone on the wing!” shrieks a freaked-out John Lithgow, who, in this anthology film based on the classic series, inherits a role originated by William Shatner, and descends into madness while watching a gremlin attempt to destroy the plane.
The Flight of the Phoenix (1965). Not the remake with Dennis Quaid and Tyrese, but the one that actually mattered, wherein Jimmy Stewart, Richard Attenborough, Peter Finch, and Ernest Borgnine fight to survive after having to land their C-82 Packet in the Sahara Desert.
The Aviator (2004). Martin Scorsese’s undersung masterpiece about Hollywood hotshot Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) homes in on the man’s obsessions with airplanes, leading ladies, soap, and other must-haves.
Zero Hour! (1957). One of multiple gravity-defying titles in this lineup to employ an exclamation point, Hall Bartlett’s World War II flick Zero Hour!, which sees Dana Andrews and Sterling Hayden bring plawright Arthur Hailey’s script to life, was all but photocopied by Airplane!, a movie we’ll get to in due course.
Executive Decision (1996). In this solid, yet boilerplate, nineties actioner, Kurt Russell is the competent geek, Halle Berry is the kitten-ish stewardess, David Suchet is the exotic-looking terrorist, and Steven Seagal is the militaristic cavalry leader who (spoiler alert!) bites it at the start of the second act.