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->'''Dr. Baird:''' Can you fly this airplane, and land it?\\
'''Ted Stryker:'''. No. Not a chance!

'''Zero Hour!''' is a 1957 Suspense / DisasterMovie starring Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell and Sterling Hayden, and one of the earliest of the "airline disaster" sub-genre. The film was adapted from the Canadian television script ''Flight Into Danger'', written by former pilot Arthur Hailey, and from his novelization of same.

Royal Canadian Air Force Pilot Ted Stryker leads an ill-fated air raid through heavy fog during the waning years of UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, a mission which results in the near total loss of his entire squadron. [[MyGreatestFailure Wracked with guilt]], Stryker spends the next eleven years drifting from job to job, unable to accept any position of responsibility, ultimately leading wife Ellen to [[TakingTheKids take their son Joey]] and leave him; but Stryker manages to board their cross-Canada flight just before takeoff. Meanwhile, a last-minute catering reschedule results in half the passengers getting violently ill -- and both pilots as well. Turns out Stryker is the only person on board who can possibly land the embattled flight and save everyone, but only if he can conquer his own demons.

If any of this sounds familiar to modern audiences, it's likely because the plot of ''Zero Hour!'' was adapted, nearly wholesale (including character names, back stories and even entire hunks of dialog), into the 1980 parody film ''Film/{{Airplane}}''. In this film the LoveInterest played by Darnell is Stryker's wife, and a passenger rather than a stewardess, and little Joey is their son. Other than that, ''Zero Hour!'' is basically ''Airplane!'' with all the jokes taken out.

Arthur Hailey, writer of the original story, later wrote another plane-in-distress story, ''Film/{{Airport}}'', which was made into a 1970 film that started the '70s DisasterMovie craze that ''Airplane!'' satirized.

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!!''Zero Hour!'' provides examples of:

* AdaptationExpansion: The original teleplay didn't give Stryker his DarkAndTroubledPast, his marriage woes nor his strained relationship with Martin Treleaven.
* BadassBoast: As part of Stryker's GrewASpine moment: "I may '''bend''' your precious airplane but I'll bring it down!"
* BetaCouple: Janet, the flight attendant, and her ventriloquist boyfriend.
* BillionsOfButtons: A panning shot of the instruments on the plane, yet another bit that was copied directly for ''Airplane!''.
* BusmansHoliday: Martin Treleaven is introduced wooing his wife on a dinner date... in full pilot's uniform.
* CanadaEh: Averted; although the setting and characters are Canadian, the film features none of the usual stereotypes.
* CigaretteOfAnxiety: Treleaven bums a smoke off the airport staff, leading to a line that was used in ''Airplane!''. ("Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking.")
* ContaminationSituation: Food poisoning, presumed to be due to hiring a new caterer.
* CrashCourseLanding: Stryker would like to point out that he flew single-engine planes during WWII; meanwhile, a commercial airplane has '''four''' engines. "It's an entirely different kind of flying altogether!"
* DarkAndTroubledPast / MyGreatestFailure: The botched air raid in WWII has left Stryker very nearly unable to function.
* DisasterMovie
* ExcitedShowTitle: It is, properly, ''Zero Hour'''!'''''
* FallingIntoTheCockpit: Stryker has to take the controls after both pilots are stricken with food poisoning.
* GrewASpine: Stryker really comes into his own as he prepares to land the plane.
-->'''Treleaven:''' [trying to get Stryker to wait for a break in the fog] Don't be a fool, Stryker! You know what a landing like this means, you more than anybody.\\
'''Stryker:''' That's right, but we've '''got to''' come in... I'm coming in, I'm coming in right now!
* ISOStandardUrbanGroceries: Ted comes home with the standard paper bag with a loaf of French bread sticking out.
* LargeHam: Sterling Hayden as Martin Treleaven. As [[http://www.aycyas.com/zerohour.htm one reviewer opined]], Robert Stack's parody character in ''Film/{{Airplane}}'' is "barely even an exaggeration."
* LittlestCancerPatient: Joey Stryker is a Littlest Food Poisoning Patient.
* TheMainCharactersDoEverything:
** Stryker is the only passenger on the plane who is both not ill and has any flying experience at all.
** Taken a step further when Ellen (who, in this film, is not a flight attendant) is brought up to handle the radio for him. Justified in that the actual flight attendant is needed with the passengers; and Ellen's relationship with Ted, however damaged, will help her give him the emotional support he needs.
* {{Narrator}}: A deadly serious one for the opening scene recounting Ted's ill-fated World War II mission.
* NoAntagonist: Unless you count food poisoning and a DarkAndTroubledPast as antagonists.
* OhCrap: Stryker is prodded into the cockpit under the assumption that the co-pilot is ill, just to help with the radio. Then he gets up there and sees two empty chairs. "'''Both''' pilots?"
* OverlyNervousFlopSweat: Stryker sure does get sweaty.
* RefusalOfTheCall: See the page quote.
* RelationshipSalvagingDisaster: It is Ted's ability, and more pertinently his '''willingness''', to step up and take charge of the situation which convinces Ellen to stay with him.
* ScreamingWoman: Which, yes, eventually leads to GetAHoldOfYourselfMan
* ShellShockedVeteran: Ted
* TakingTheKids: Ellen believes (understandably) that Ted's dithering and wishy-washiness makes him a bad role model for their son.
* TeethClenchedTeamwork: Stryker and Treleaven hold... less than fond memories of each other.
* ThisIsNoTimeToPanic: Besides the inevitable ScreamingWoman, one panicky idiot goes and flings open the cockpit door to reveal Stryker: "'''He's''' not a pilot!" Luckily, Dr. Baird is able to talk everyone down.
* TimeSkip: 11 years between Ted's mission in World War II and the present day.
* WhatTheHellHero: Beautifully subverted, as Treleaven grumbles about Stryker's "lousiest landing in the history of this airport!" and then immediately offers sincere congratulations.
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