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The Andromeda Strain (1971) Poster

Goofs

Audio/visual unsynchronised 

After the two scientists in hazard suits are dropped-off in Piedmont, there is a shot of the helicopter hovering overhead, yet the sound effect is that of a helicopter flying away. Moments later the helicopter does fly away slowly.
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A close-up of the crying baby found in the town by the recon scientists shows the face of a baby that is obviously not crying as the soundtrack portrays.
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Boom mic visible 

Boom mic reflection on level 1 red wall in conference room behind self destruct mechanism key insert. A minute later, boom shadow on wall behind actors as they discuss the odd man out theory. (:45 minutes in)
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Character error 

At the jet fighter crash site, a helicopter lands and one of its passengers vigorously slams two of its doors shut. This would never happen with experienced passengers. A helicopter's doors are light, fragile, and expensive. Thus one of the first rules of helicopter travel is to never slam the doors.
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In the scene when the two scientists are first exploring the town, we see a shot of a priest lying dead on the steps of a church, eyes wide open. Right before the scene cuts, the supposedly dead priest stops his dead-eyed stare and looks to the right, obviously moving both eyes.
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Continuity 

The oscilloscope in Scoop Mission Control shows the voices from the recovery team, but not the beeping of the tracker. This can be seen clearly after the team dies and the trace flat lines.
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Level 3 is the blue level, as shown in the layout diagrams, but when Dr. Hall climbs back up to it to disarm the bomb, it is a light-gray/white level.
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When searching for the capsule in the first scene, the men raise the parabolic receiver on the van. The plotter then plots vectors on the map, but the lines are already there, clearly showing the exact location of the capsule.
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When the scientists get to the doctor's office in Piedmont, they leave the driver's side door of the van open, almost farther than a standard van door is allowed to open. When they return, it is open only that standard amount.
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During the initial briefing on level 1, the overall display of the Wildfire complex shows the old man and the baby (2 yellow 'x's) as being on level 1. Dutton then asks Stone if they're both still alive, and Stone switches the display to a live video feed of the patients descending in the central core. On the wall behind the old man is a large "3", indicating he's passing level 3, but only 5 seconds have elapsed between the first shot and Dutton's question - not enough time for him to have gone from level 1 to level 3.
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Position of the monkey in its cage and its size in relation to the cage.
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The plane approaching Piedmont for the initial flyover is an RF-4C, a two pilot reconnaissance aircraft. Later, a shot is looking forward showing the cockpit and forward section of the plane. It is clearly not a two cockpit aircraft nor does it have the distinctive profile of the F-4.
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What's left of the oxygen mask recovered at the crash site is a completely different type to the one the pilot was wearing before the crash.
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Crew or equipment visible 

When they first subject the lab animals to the virus, on the right hand side of the screen in the reflection of the metal walls you can see the crew rushing towards the monkey cage to revive him right before they cut back to the shot of the scientists.
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(at around 49 mins) Dr. Charles Dutton walks in and lands on a camera mark under the console.
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Reflections of the camera team and some studio lights can be seen in the glass visor of the scientist's helmet, right after his initial encounter with the old man.
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Errors in geography 

According to the map shown after the Situation Room scene, Wildfire was located in southern Clark County, Nevada, 46 miles from downtown Las Vegas, 34 miles from the Hoover Dam, and only five miles from Searchlight, Nevada (the smaller black dot below Wildfire); notably closer than 112 miles from any "...inhabited area..." as stated in the dialogue.
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Factual errors 

When the scientists in Piedmont check the dead driver of the satellite recovery van, his eyes are glistening wet. He had been dead for many hours, so they should have been dried out.
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The screen showing the distribution of elements in the samples goes by atomic number, but skips over neon (10) for some reason. (It can't be because of lack of neon; other elements are indicated with a 0 or -.) The book does the same, in fact leaving out further noble gases (except helium), as if they were exempt from analysis.
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When the scientists are choosing filters to determine the size of the organism, the 1 and 2 micron filters are labeled "1M" and "2M". The scientific abbreviation for micron is "u" or the Greek letter "mu".
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On the Wildfire layout diagram, the baby and the old man are shown to be descending in elevators in the central core. When Dr. Hall later goes into the central core, there are no elevators in the indicated places.
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Dr Dutton passes Andromeda from one rat to another to prove it spreads by air. This test is pointless, since they already proved airborne transmission using the first rat and the monkey.
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When the USAF personnel are killed by the strain while driving into the town of Piedmont, no one is there alive to turn off the ignition of their van. It would have continued to run until out of fuel. However, when the scientists arrive in full suits, they elect to use the same van to move through the town; how did that van get refueled?
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When Hall first uses the Medcom program on the computer in Level 5, the word "analysis" is misspelled as "ANALYS".
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The scene showing technicians troubleshooting a Teletype and missing a sliver of paper wedged between the machine's bell and clapper is unlikely. The bell in the type of machine depicted is located where such debris could not possibly fall onto it.
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The captain who picks up Dr. Stone at his home wears no ribbons on his uniform. For this time period (the early 1970's), he should be wearing, as a minimum, the ribbon for the National Defense Service Medal, plus the Air Force Longevity Service ribbon.
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The Air Force technical sergeant in Wildfire's communications room is wearing black or dark brown rank chevrons on his tan 1505 uniform shirt. In fact, the stripes should be silver-gray on a dark blue background.
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In the scene where Major Manchek is at the jet's crash site, his uniform is incorrect. First, he is wearing a blue flight cap with his fatigue uniform instead of an olive green fatigue cap. Second, he wears no aircrew wings on his field jacket, even though he is wearing wings on his shirt earlier in the movie.
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The helicopter that flies Stone and Hall from Vandenburg to Piedmont then back to Wildfire would have to fly over 1000 miles. The helicopter shown doesn't have nearly that range, not to mention remaining over Piedmont while Stone and Hall investigate.
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The locator antenna's parabolic dish on the USAF van turns CCW, yet antennas turn CW, as evidenced by the CW display seen moments later within the van. Radar plan position Indicator (PPI) scopes derive their input from CW antenna data.
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Plot holes 

At the beginning of the movie, vultures are shown circling over the town of Piedmont. Later, when the two scientists approach the town in a helicopter, the vultures are on the ground eating the flesh of the dead. The military even brought gas to kill off the vultures so they wouldn't fly off and spread the disease. What's interesting, is that no one gives a second thought as to why the vultures weren't dead. Even after they kill off a rat and monkey in the lab to test the disease no one wonders how it was that the vultures weren't affected.
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The bell in the teletype machine would not have been completely silenced by the sliver of paper. The man in the control room would still have heard the quieter bell, especially if this was his "only one job".
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Revealing mistakes 

When Dutton, Stone and Hall walk towards the electrostatic decontaminator, they are shown full-body from the rear to be nude entering the chamber. The next scene, tastefully blurred and solarized, still shows Dutton and Stone wearing athletic supporters, and Hall wearing bikini underwear.
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When Dr. Hall is being scanned, you can see in the reflection on the screen that he is wearing an athletic supporter.
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At the crash site of the Phantom F-4, the tail section of the crashed aircraft is that of an F-100. Also the cockpit section shown is from a F-100 jet fighter.
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The lips of the dead man in the barber's chair in Piedmont can be seen moving in the close shot.
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When the scientist moves to close the dead doctor's eyes in Piedmont, the man's eyes close before the scientist closes them.
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James Olson goes under several decontamination procedures. During one early procedure, he has a very thick amount of body hair that looks like it is fake and applied. In a later procedure, the hair is much thinner and more natural. There is no explanation for the changes in hair thickness or texture.
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While Dr. Stone and Dr. Hall are in Piedmont investigating the Andromeda disaster, they hear a baby crying far away, even though they are both wearing sealed helmets.
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When the scientists in the town find the body inert with the head inside the tube the water surface trembles slightly.
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Spoilers 

The goof items below may give away important plot points.

Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

The airborne contaminant kills almost everyone in the town, the laboratory animals, and the jet pilot in just seconds. When the capsule recovery team and later the scientist first enters Piedmont, there are live vultures flying over the town at night and later eating the corpses of the townspeople the next day. Dr. Stone is even concerned enough that the contamination is going to be spread, so they drop a double dose of gas canisters to kill the birds. They don't check the wind direction or have any concern that someone might still be alive in the town before they leave the helicopter to recover the capsule and do their investigations, because the gas is only toxic to animals with an unusually fast metabolism such as birds and does not harm mammals.
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Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

The characters state that the Andromeda Strain can only live within a narrow pH band: it affected those with a normal blood pH level, but not the old man and the baby who had abnormal blood pH levels. They go on to state that the virus from Piedmont will end up in the ocean where it will be destroyed by the ocean's pH level. This is plausible: healthy human blood maintains a pH of 7.35-7.45, completely outside the ocean's 7.5-8.4 range.
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Plot holes 

The story shows the only Destruct Substations located in passageways. Considering that individual labs seal off if they become contaminated, every single room should have had a Destruct Substation. If Dr. Hall had been stuck in the lab with Dr. Dutton, the story would have ended on a tragic note.
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See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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