Missing (1982)

R  |   |  Drama, History, Mystery  |  12 March 1982 (USA)
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Reviews: 86 user | 53 critic

When an idealistic writer disappears during the Right Wing military coup in 1973 Chile, his wife and American businessman father try to find him.



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Won 1 Oscar. Another 9 wins & 17 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Charles Horman
Charles Cioffi ...
Captain Ray Tower
Richard Venture ...
Colonel Sean Patrick
John Doolittle ...
Dave McGeary
Ward Costello ...


In September1973, in Chile, the American journalist Charles Horman arrives in Valparaiso with his friend Terry Simon to meet his wife Beth and bring her back to New York with him. However, they are surprised by the military coup d'état sponsored by the US Government to replace President Salvador Allende and Charles is arrested by the military force. His father Ed Horman, a conservative businessman from New York, arrives in Chile to seek out his missing son with Beth. He goes to the American Consulate to meet the Consul that promises the best efforts to find Charles while the skeptical Beth does not trust on the word of the American authorities. The nationalism and confidence of Ed in his government changes when he finds the truth about what happened with his beloved son. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


R | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

12 March 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Desaparecido  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


About two days before filming requiring shots of tanks, the Mexican Army denied access to such military vehicles. The picture's Mexican art department then on the run designed and created mock-up dummy tanks for the film which were made of wood. See more »


In the opening scene, as Charlie and Terry are getting out of Capt. Tower's car, Terry opens her door just a bit and pauses, as Capt. Tower hands her his card. Shot is from outside the car on Terry's side. In the next shot, from Capt. Tower's side, the door hasn't been opened yet. See more »


Consul Phil Putnam: Please try to understand. There are so many cases. They're all so important, and this isn't the only one we're working on.
Ed Horman: It's the only one I care about.
Consul Phil Putnam: You and a lot of other people. Listen, I've never seen so many cables from Washington. What kind of pull do you have up there anyway?
Ed Horman: I'm an American citizen.
See more »


Referenced in Rewind This! (2013) See more »


Written by Bill Anderson (uncredited) and Jerry Crutchfield (uncredited)
Performed by Brenda Lee
Courtesy of MCA Records, Inc.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Propulsive, Real-Life Political Thriller Shows Costa-Gavras and Lemmon at Their Peak
19 October 2006 | by (San Francisco, CA, USA) – See all my reviews

Accomplished Greek-French filmmaker Costa-Gavras has a compelling way of bringing the emotional resonance out of stories with overtly political themes. He hits the mail on the head with this searing indictment of American involvement in the 1973 military coup that ejected Allende from power in Chile. Facts are not discretely presented, even the country in which the story takes place is not disclosed (except for specific references to the cities of Santiago and Vina Del Mar). Yet, Costa-Gavras creates an atmosphere of palpable tension that doesn't let up in this 1982 film, and the unraveling mystery at the heart of the movie echoes the unsettling political situation surrounding the characters.

Adapted by Costa-Gavras and Donald Stewart from Thomas Hauser's non-fiction book documenting the true case, the plot focuses on American expatriate Charles Horman whose sudden disappearance in the days after the Pinochet coup brings together two familial adversaries, his wife Beth and his father Ed, who has flown in from New York. Charles and Beth had been leading a vagabond existence with his work in children's animation and their relatively passive support of Allende's reform measures. Charles' back story is revealed in carefully constructed flashback episodes that show him to be curious about the presence of U.S. military personnel in the area. Once he disappears, Ed and Beth seek help from the U.S. Consulate but face a seemingly insurmountable wall of bureaucracy. Frustrated, Ed, a highly conservative Christian Scientist, lashes out at Beth for what he considers her undesirable influence over his son. However, as they absorb the scope of the violence and the culpability of the U.S. government, they bond intractably toward their objective of finding Charles.

For once, Jack Lemmon, unafraid to convey his character's prejudices, is able to use his neurotically coiled energy in a suitable dramatic role as Ed. The result is a startlingly raw performance that ranks among his best. Sissy Spacek is terrific as Beth, though her character does not experience as big an arc of self-revelation. In the elliptical flashback role of Charles, John Shea provides solid support, as do Janice Rule as a political activist and a number of familiar TV faces - Melanie Mayron as friend Terry and David Clennon as U.S. consul Phil Putnam, both from "thirtysomething", and Joe Regalbuto, Frank from "Murphy Brown", playing another Frank, a possible victim of the coup. There are unfortunately no extras with the 2004 DVD.

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