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HISTORY

Although the onscreen credits contain an exclamation point in the film's title, most contemporary sources referred to the picture only as Zero Hour . The film begins with a voice-over foreword, spoken by William Conrad, explaining that Ted Stryker, the lead character in Zero Hour! , was a Canadian squadron leader in the Royal Air Force during World War II. Ordered to bomb Axis supply depots in Wiesbaden, Germany, Stryker failed to abort the mission when fog suddenly enveloped the city, causing his planes to become disoriented and crash into the ground. Though Stryker survived his injuries, six of his men were killed. At different times in the film, Charles Quinlivan's character is referred to as "Harry Burdick" and "Harry Ballard."
       Newt Arnold and Lee Lukather, who are listed onscreen as "Assistant to the producer" and "Production manager," respectively, are listed by some contemporary sources as assistant directors. According to the Var review, Zero Hour! was the first film by the new independent film consortium of director Hall Bartlett and producer John Champion. Although HR news items state that the film was to be the first in a two-picture deal between Bartlett-Champion and Paramount, the pair did not produce any other films together.
       According to the file on the film in the Paramount collection at the AMPAS Library, Zero Hour! was produced at the cost of $400,764, including $21,000 for the screen rights to Arthur Hailey's teleplay, entitled Flight into Danger , which aired on NBC's The Alcoa Hour on 16 Sep 1956, and starred Macdonald Carey ... More Less

Although the onscreen credits contain an exclamation point in the film's title, most contemporary sources referred to the picture only as Zero Hour . The film begins with a voice-over foreword, spoken by William Conrad, explaining that Ted Stryker, the lead character in Zero Hour! , was a Canadian squadron leader in the Royal Air Force during World War II. Ordered to bomb Axis supply depots in Wiesbaden, Germany, Stryker failed to abort the mission when fog suddenly enveloped the city, causing his planes to become disoriented and crash into the ground. Though Stryker survived his injuries, six of his men were killed. At different times in the film, Charles Quinlivan's character is referred to as "Harry Burdick" and "Harry Ballard."
       Newt Arnold and Lee Lukather, who are listed onscreen as "Assistant to the producer" and "Production manager," respectively, are listed by some contemporary sources as assistant directors. According to the Var review, Zero Hour! was the first film by the new independent film consortium of director Hall Bartlett and producer John Champion. Although HR news items state that the film was to be the first in a two-picture deal between Bartlett-Champion and Paramount, the pair did not produce any other films together.
       According to the file on the film in the Paramount collection at the AMPAS Library, Zero Hour! was produced at the cost of $400,764, including $21,000 for the screen rights to Arthur Hailey's teleplay, entitled Flight into Danger , which aired on NBC's The Alcoa Hour on 16 Sep 1956, and starred Macdonald Carey and Patricia Barry under the direction of Herbert Hirschman. The film version marked Hailey's first feature-length screenplay. Hailey went on to become a highly successful novelist in the 1960s, with film adaptations of his work including the 1967 Warner Bros. film Hotel and Universal's 1970 release Airport (see entries in AFI Catalog of Feature Film, 1961-70 ).
       According to LAT news items, Harrison Reeder of Robert Alexander Productions attempted to purchase the screen rights to Hailey's story as a star vehicle for actor Steve Cochran, but was outbid by Bartlett, who purchased it five days after the television production was first broadcast. HR news items at that time state that Bartlett had intended to produce the film in association with Sam Weiler, but Weiler received no screen credit in Zero Hour! and his contributions, if any, to the released film have not been determined. Paramount studio records also indicate that footage of actor Dana Andrews was purchased by Paramount from Twentieth Century-Fox for Zero Hour! The footage, used in the film's opening sequence in which Andrews portrayed a World War II pilot, may have been taken the 1944 Fox film Wing and a Prayer (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ). According to a 24 May 1957 HR news item, portions of the film were shot on location at an airport in Santa Ana, CA.
       Nightclub and television performer Peggy King made her feature film debut in Zero Hour! . Paramount press materials report that King recorded the song Zero Hour on Columbia Records in conjunction with the film's release. The picture also marked the feature film debuts of Charles Quinlivan, Carole Eden, Steven London, Jo Ann Wade and Raymond Ferrell. Although the credits imply that John Ashley made his screen debut in Zero Hour! , he also appeared in the AIP release Dragstrip Girl , which was released earlier in 1957.
       According to a Jun 1957 LAEx article, Harold Cope, the film's technical advisor, was an executive with American Airlines. HR news items include Robert Brubaker, Duane Grey, Cyril Delivanti, George Selk, John Zaremba, James Maloney, Sheila Noonan, John Launer and Joe Perry in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Modern sources also include Woody Chambliss in the cast.
       In 1971, Hailey's story was filmed a second time for television under the title Terror in the Sky , directed by Bernard L. Kowalski and starring Leif Erickson and Doug McClure. Zero Hour was also the inspiration for the 1980 film parody Airplane! , which starred Robert Hays as "Ted Stricker" and Julie Hagerty as "Elaine" and was directed by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker. The great success of that film led to a sequel in 1981, Airplane II, The Sequel , and spawned numerous similar film parodies. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
26 Oct 1957.
---
Daily Variety
18 Mar 1957.
---
Daily Variety
23 Oct 57
p. 3.
Film Daily
4 Nov 57
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Sep 1956.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 May 57
p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 57
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
14 May 1957
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
16 May 57
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
21 May 1957
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
23 May 1957
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
24 May 1957
p. 2, 5.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Oct 57
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 57
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Mar 1958
p. 1.
Los Angeles Examiner
2 Jun 1957.
---
Los Angeles Times
18 Sep 1956.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 Sep 1956.
---
Motion Picture Daily
23 Oct 1957.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
26 Oct 57
p. 577.
New York Times
14 Nov 57
p. 41.
Variety
23 Oct 57
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Bartlett-Champion Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus score comp and cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to the prod
Scr supv
Sketch artist
Tech adv
Exec secy
Prod mgr
Night aerial footage
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the teleplay "Flight into Danger" by Arthur Hailey on The Alcoa Hour (NBC, 16 Sep 1956).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Zero Hour," song and theme composed by Arthur Hamilton
"The Gliss Jump," composed by Billy Regis and played by The Billy Regis Band.
DETAILS
Release Date:
November 1957
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 13 November 1957
Production Date:
8 May--28 May 1957
retakes 23 July--24 July 1957
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corp., Carmel Enterprises, Inc. and Delta Enterprises, Inc.
Copyright Date:
1 November 1957
Copyright Number:
LP9353
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
80-82
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18728
SYNOPSIS

In the final weeks of World War II, Ted Stryker, a Canadian squadron leader in the Royal Air Force, leads a raid on the German town of Wiesbaden. Though the target area is covered by fog, Ted does not abort the mission and six of his blinded planes crash into the German countryside. The seriously wounded Ted survives the disastrous mission, but blames himself for the death of his men. Eleven years later, Ted applies for a job in the Jet Research division of the Mid-Canadian Aircraft Co., Ltd., located in Winnipeg, Canada. Despite Ted's poor employment record since the war, his old friend Frank Graham agrees to hire him, and Ted returns home to celebrate the good news with his wife Ellen and son Joey. Instead, he finds a note from Ellen, stating that she is leaving him. Ted rushes to the airport just in time to book passage on her plane to Vancouver, despite the fear of flying he developed after the war. Aboard the plane, Ted asks Ellen to give him another chance, but she refuses, arguing that he has never stopped running from his mistake over Wiesbaden. Midway through the flight, some of the passengers begin to suffer debilitating stomach cramps, so the stewardess, Janet Turner, asks Dr. Baird, a physician aboard the flight, to examine them. Baird tells Capt. Bill Wilson to land the plane immediately, so the sick passengers can be taken to the hospital, only to learn that poor weather conditions make such action impossible. Soon thereafter, co-pilot Stewart passes out, and Baird quickly determines that the problem is food poisoning, as all the passengers who dined ... +


In the final weeks of World War II, Ted Stryker, a Canadian squadron leader in the Royal Air Force, leads a raid on the German town of Wiesbaden. Though the target area is covered by fog, Ted does not abort the mission and six of his blinded planes crash into the German countryside. The seriously wounded Ted survives the disastrous mission, but blames himself for the death of his men. Eleven years later, Ted applies for a job in the Jet Research division of the Mid-Canadian Aircraft Co., Ltd., located in Winnipeg, Canada. Despite Ted's poor employment record since the war, his old friend Frank Graham agrees to hire him, and Ted returns home to celebrate the good news with his wife Ellen and son Joey. Instead, he finds a note from Ellen, stating that she is leaving him. Ted rushes to the airport just in time to book passage on her plane to Vancouver, despite the fear of flying he developed after the war. Aboard the plane, Ted asks Ellen to give him another chance, but she refuses, arguing that he has never stopped running from his mistake over Wiesbaden. Midway through the flight, some of the passengers begin to suffer debilitating stomach cramps, so the stewardess, Janet Turner, asks Dr. Baird, a physician aboard the flight, to examine them. Baird tells Capt. Bill Wilson to land the plane immediately, so the sick passengers can be taken to the hospital, only to learn that poor weather conditions make such action impossible. Soon thereafter, co-pilot Stewart passes out, and Baird quickly determines that the problem is food poisoning, as all the passengers who dined on grilled halibut have become deathly ill. Soon, Bill is overcome with food poisoning as well, though he manages to put the airplane on autopilot before collapsing. Asked by the stewardess if he can revive the pilot in time to land the plane, Baird tells Janet he is not even sure he can save the sick passengers' lives unless they receive prompt medical attention at a hospital, as they seem to be suffering from a deadly bacterial infection. Janet then surveys the passengers for anyone with flying experience, and finds Ted to be the only one. In the cockpit, Baird informs Ted that he is the only person aboard capable of landing the plane, even though he has never flown such a large aircraft. Ted then takes the pilot's seat and contacts Canadian air traffic control, asking for guidance in flying the plane. At the Vancouver airport, senior controller Harry Burdick calls in Captain Martin Treleaven to help with the emergency, as Treleaven flew with Ted during the war, but it is quickly apparent that the two intensely disliked each other. With Ellen acting as his co-pilot, Ted takes control of the plane and Treleaven teaches him how to fly the aircraft with its landing gear down. Soon, Ted begins having flashbacks to the war and nearly loses control of the plane. Regaining level flight, Ted and Ellen temporarily lose radio contact with Treleaven, but reestablish it thirty minutes outside Vancouver. As the city's emergency forces prepare for a possible crash landing, fog envelopes Vancouver. Though Treleaven orders Ted to circle the city until the fog breaks, Ted insists on landing the plane immediately, as the sick passengers, including Joey, are in critical condition. As they prepare to land, Ellen tells Ted how proud she is of him. Although he approaches the airport at too high a speed, Ted manages to land safely, but the plane itself is badly damaged. As the passengers prepare to disembark the plane, Treleaven tells Ted that his landing was probably the worst landing in the history of the airport, but he still wishes to shake his hand and congratulate him on it. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.