Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


FATE IS THE HUNTER (1964). Director: Ralph Nelson.

When a plane crashes killing all aboard except a stewardess (Suzanne Pleshette), an investigator for the airline, Sam McBane (Glenn Ford), tries to determine what went wrong. You'd think this would make for a compelling film, but most of the running time has McBane delving into the character of the pilot [and old friend] Jack Savage (Rod Taylor), whose irresponsibility is being blamed for the tragedy, with lots of flashbacks. McBane discovers that there was much more to Savage than met the eye. Nancy Kwan and Dorothy Malone are two of the many ladies in Savage's life, and Wally Cox and Mark Stevens [in a fine turn] are pals of his whom he's helped over the years. Mary Wickes has an interesting cameo as a landlady. Constance Towers is McBane's secretary, Nehemiah Persoff is his rival, and Jane Russell appears as herself in a flashback scene entertaining the troops. This culminates in a fairly ridiculous courtroom sequence, and then in a climax in which McBane and others try to recreate the circumstances of the crash up in the air. The picture is contrived and illogical, has little tension or suspense, and is more talky and dull than anything else. Ernest K. Gann, who wrote the novel upon which the film is based, reportedly disavowed the whole production. Ford gives a fine performance but is saddled with the screwiness of his character; the rest of the cast is very good, and Pleshette is excellent although she has only a few lines.

Verdict: This kind of movie should not be a snooze-fest. **.

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