Every Joke from ‘Airplane!’ Ranked
Alex Kavutskiy

And, for those who didn’t grow up watching 1940s movies on TV . . .

The “couple saying good-bye as if on a train platform” joke (#18) is even funnier if you know that it’s a beat-for-beat parody of a famous-in-its-day scene from a 1940s tearjerker about a young couple separated by WWII . . . right down to the pocket watch that (in Airplane!) “doesn’t work anyway.”

The “win one for the Zipper” gag (#141) is a whole lot funnier if you’ve seen Pat O’Brien’s “win one for the Gipper” speech from Knute Rockne, All-American (1940), which Rumack is doing almost word-for-word . . . lampshaded by the snippet of the Notre Dame fight song that plays as Ted heads for the cockpit.

“Yeah, too quiet!” and “That’s just what they’ll be expecting us to do!” (which finished almost the entire list apart, at #138 and #2!) are both essentially the same gag: shout-outs to famous dialogue clichés recycled in countless 1940s war movies and Westerns.

Now . . . off to go watch Airplane! again . . .

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