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Airplane Quotes Still Draw Big Laughs

Despite upsetting events in the news like the recent Andre Johnson fight with Cortland Finnegan during an NFL game, Airplane quotes still draw big laughs from folks who hear them even all these years later. The movie Airplane was a classic comedy starring the late Leslie Nielsen, arguably the signature role of his career (with the possible exception of Lt. Frank Drebin in the Police Squad series and The Naked Gun trilogy). Leslie Nielsen was a master of deadpan humor, a classic straight man who was able to be hilarious on screen without his characters ever having to tell a joke. At least, they never knew they were telling a joke.

Airplane quotes, like many of those from The Naked Gun, demonstrate exactly how brilliant this comic was when they are viewed on screen. But these quotes also point to the effectiveness of the screenwriters for Airplane. The 1980 film didn't just become a cult hit because of the quirkiness of the characters or the straight deadpan foolishness of Dr. Rumack, the Nielsen character. These quotes have survived through the decades because of the quality of writing as well as the delivery by the actors and especially Nielsen.

Famous Airplane Quotes Demonstrate Humor

In a scene in the plane where Dr. Rumack is trying to keep control when everything is going wrong, he has Elaine Dickinson tell the captain to land the plane. He says, "You'd better tell the Captain we've got to land as soon as we can. This woman has to be gotten to a hospital." To which Elaine responds, "A hospital? What is it?" Dr. Rumack answers, "It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now."

There are many other examples of Airplane quotes that demonstrate the whole movie's knack for not so subtle deadpan humor. The whole plot, really, is an over the top example of this genre, filled with dramatic speeches and other such dialogue meant to poke fun at was movies and other such Hollywood standards. There are moments in Airplane where Dr. Rumack's character provides simple comic relief even as the dramatic tension (if it can be called that) builds and the story develops, like when he asks Elaine to remind him what they had eaten for dinner earlier that evening. Elaine reminds him there was a choice of steak or fish, and naturally Nielsen's character responds, "Yes, yes, I remember. I had lasagna."

Don't Call Me Shirley

But surely the most famous quotes of all that those who buy car insurance online and movie buffs everywhere know about, even those who never saw the film, are those referencing "Shirley". This is a theme that was repeated a few times with great comic effectiveness by Nielsen's character. In the first such sequence, Rumack asks Striker if he can fly the plane and land it. Striker responds, "Surely you can't be serious." What comes next is easily the most famous of all Airplane quotes and probably one of the famous comic movie quotes of the last several decades, an iconic line that became synonymous with the actor who delivered it. The doctor coolly answers Striker in all earnestness and with a good measure of determination and even boldness in his voice, "I am serious...and don't call me Shirley."

Airplane ever since it came out in 1980 has been thought of as a cult classic. Not every moviegoer is into the deadpan style of comic delivery, but those who like this style love this movie as well as The Naked Gun films because in these Airplane quotes, everyone is a straight man (or woman) and it seems only the audience is smart enough to get the joke.


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