What movies will you never see on an airplane? Airplane movies! The last thing they want you to think about up in the sky is the risk of disaster. But airplanes are a perfect setting for movies, providing the unities of time and place that have been the foundation of drama from the ancient Greeks to the classics of “locked room” mysteries. A random group of people come together in a confined space and for the time of the flight no one can enter or leave. And being up in the sky is inherently scary. If anything goes wrong, it can be deadly.
The very first Best Picture Oscar winner was “Wings,” barely past the first days of commercial air travel. The early days of movies and the early days of manned flight were made for each other. There were more air battles in WWI movies than actually happened in WWI.
The first Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie, “Flying Down to Rio,” had dance numbers on the wings of planes.
Just recently, the Denzel Washington film Flight had one of the scariest plane crash sequences ever filmed, and the wild and very raunchy comedy I’m So Excited! took place on a plane, also with some musical numbers.
There are a lot of movies with airplane scenes, but these are some of the best films that take place almost entirely in a plane.
The High and the Mighty If there’s a problem with the plane, it’s good to have John Wayne in the cockpit.
Air Force One Harrison Ford is the President of the United States, flying back home from a meeting in Russia, when the plane is taken over by terrorist Gary Oldman.
Snakes on a Plane The reception for this film suffered from backlash to the hype, but it is actually a lot of fun.
Red Eye At first, the hotel manager played by Rachel McAdams thinks the cute guy in the next seat (Cillian Murphy) is flirting with her. But then it turns out that her father is being held by his henchmen so that he can pressure her to help him in an assassination plot.
Con Air This ridiculously entertaining film has Nicolas Cage on a prisoner transport plane taking high-risk, extra-dangerous criminals (played by an outstanding cast including John Malkovich and Steve Buscemi) to a new facility. When they say its security system is foolproof, you know things are going to go wrong.