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80 Steps to Jonah (1969) - Plot Summary Poster

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  • Nevada police take into custody drifter Mark Jonah, although he claims he was an innocent hitchhiker, after the crash of a stolen car in which hoodlum Jerry Taggart is killed. Mark escapes and, while sleeping in a field two days later, is awakened when an eight-year-old blind girl, Nina, stumbles over him. Nina leads Mark to three other blind children---Kim, Little Joe and Cathy. The youngster's, sensing Mark's gentleness, take him to their summer camp for blind children. There, he meets Tracy, a girl his own age who is also blind. He is mistaken for the camp's new handyman by Tracy's housekeeper, Nonna, who views him with suspicion, and also meets the other children, Richard, Velma and Pepe. The children learn to love Mark, whom they follow everywhere, as their Pied Piper figure. Led by tough Barney Glover, the police finally catch up to Jonah. But a well-known local character, Wilfred Bashford, clears Mark, who returns to Tracy and his new "family."

  • Mark Winters is a fugitive, wanted by the police in Nevada for grand theft auto and manslaughter. It is all based on Mark being found injured in a totaled stolen vehicle off the side of the road in the driver's seat, while the other person in the vehicle was thrown during the accident, he who eventually succumbed to his injuries. Mark's story: he was hitchhiking when he was picked up by the now dead man, who he didn't know otherwise. Sensing an opportunity, Mark escaped from police custody, hence his current fugitive status. A migratory worker, Mark stumbles across Logandale, a summer camp outside of Reno for blind children, owned and operated by Tracy Rutledge, who is blind herself from an accident when she was a teenager, that accident which claimed her parent's lives, and Nonna, who has long been a servant in the Rutledge household. Mark, using his middle name Jonah, is mistaken by Tracy as the new handyman, and decides to stay, albeit temporarily, until their true handyman arrives. But Jonah ends up being a positive effect on the children, and visa versa. In addition, Tracy starts to fall in love with him. Jonah may only be able to hide out there for so long before his fugitive status comes to light, the implications of which he may not want inflicted on his new family. Meanwhile, he is being pursued by many, including a couple of Humboldt County sheriffs, and a part time police detective named Barney Glover, who is vacationing in Reno.

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  • A young man hiding from the law takes refuge in a summer camp for blind children.


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