Murder, She Wrote: Season 5, Episode 7

The Last Flight of the Dixie Damsel (18 Dec. 1988)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy | Crime | Drama
7.7
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Jessica is summoned to California where a recently recovered Air Force plane could pin a decades-old murder on her dead husband Frank.

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Title: The Last Flight of the Dixie Damsel (18 Dec 1988)

The Last Flight of the Dixie Damsel (18 Dec 1988) on IMDb 7.7/10

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Nicholas Rossi
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Bonnie Phelps
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Ray Dressler
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Lt. Clint Phelps
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Maj. Kevin Cooper
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Sylvia Gagliano
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Gen. Marcus Havermeyer
Danny Hassel ...
Lt. Gaynes
Doug Dupuy ...
Polygraph Technician
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Sergeant
J. Michael Warren ...
Young Officer
Colleen McDermott ...
Young Woman
Gerry Okuneff ...
First Man
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Storyline

When a military plane which Jessica's husband's was a member of it's crew is found, she and the other surviving members go. When they arrive they discover that a member of the crew of supposedly went down with the plane was actually killed. So an investigation ensues and the man investigating makes all the members take a polygraph test and when they all pass, he concludes that Jessica's husband is the one who killed him. Jessica not believing that sets out to prove her husband's innocence. And she discovers a few oversights the investigator made but not enough to prove his innocence. Written by rcs0411@yahoo.com

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18 December 1988 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The final restaurant scene with Dale Robertson and Angela Lansbury was filmed in the Universal Studios VIP commissary dining room prior to the studio's renovation of the room in 1990. The booth they occupy was always reserved for Lew Wasserman. See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: UNIVERSAL PICTURES present UNIVERSAL NEWSREEL: Downed Fliers Rescued After 72 Hour Ordeal (superimposed on archive footage) See more »

Connections

References The Last Flight of Noah's Ark (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Cold Reception Foreshadows a Cold Cold Case Investigations
29 September 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

A vintage newsreel featuring Young U.s. Air Force (USAF) Captain Frank Fletcher's (John Newberg) emerging from the USAF C-97 Cargo Transport Airplane "Dixie Damsel" to embrace American soil en route from Seoul, during the Korean War.

In the current day, from Seattle, Washington, Bonnie Phelps (Jane Greer) telephones Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury), in Cabot Cove, Maine, to inform her that the Dixie Damsel has been found in an Alaskan snowbank, after its crew had parachuted during a 1952 blizzard. Bonnie and Jessica had shared quarters back in San Diego, California, during those years when their husbands were stationed together during the Korean War.

And now Bonnie plans to accompany her husband, Clint Phelps (Martin Milner), to Crawford Air Force Base, in California, to greet the arrival of the restored USAF Cargo Transport, which had been abandoned during a 1952 blizzard by four of five crew members, who were rescued 72 hours later.

Bittersweet memories transpire for Jessica, who, upon her arrival to the airfield, observes a Young Officer (J. Michael Warren) and his companion, a Young Woman (Colleen McDermott), merrily exiting into a convertible. Jessica then experiences a pleasant reunion with Bonnie and Clint inside, before accusations begin to fly.

When Air Force Major Kevin Cooper (Richard Roundtree) dismisses Jessica as unnecessary for his investigation, she requests a bit of common courtesy. But their meeting is interrupted by the return of the Dixie Damsel to the airfield.

Officer Lee Goddard (Dale Robertson) had left his Tuscon, Arizona, ranch two days earlier to fly to Alaska, and now to pilot the Dixie Damsel back to Crawford Air Force Base, to reunite with Clint, Bonnie and Jessica. When they ask why they cannot receive answers from Major Cooper, Lee explains that a body has been found aboard the airplane, preserved in the snowbank some 36 years, after being shot. And now, Major Cooper investigates which of the Cargo Transport crew has committed the murder.

Several out of town guests spend the evening at Desert Blossom Motel and dine at Gondolier Restaurant, at which Bonnie, Clint, Lee and Jessica notice the arrival of former Dixie Damsel crew member, radio operator Sergeant Ray Dressler (Clifton James), a grouchy type bearing a superiority complex, who has arrived from Armarillo, Texas, to take the lie detector test, which Major Cooper has scheduled for the next morning.

With Major Cooper on hand, Polygraph Technician (Doug Dupuy) finally administers the test to Clint Phelps, while Jessica waits in the outer office with Lee Goddard and Ray Dressler, who has no use for Major Cooper, nor the arriving Nicholas Rossi (Michael Ansara), who introduces himself as a cousin of the victim, Pete Gagliano, who accompanies Pete's long-estranged daughter, Sylvia Gagliano (Robin Strasser), to identify the body.

Lieutenant Gaynes (Danny Hassle), Sergeant (Scott Richard Ehredt) and Guard (Mark Costello) also serve on the base, where Major Cooper asks Lieutenant Gaynes to make Jessica to feel at home after he accuses her late husband, Frank, of the murder by process of elimination, based upon his preliminary findings of the lie detector tests. Jessica, therefore, demands a complete investigation, and if the Air Force won't do it, then she certainly will.

General Havermeyer (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) arrives on the airfield from St. Petersburg, Florida. He had been stationed in Tokyo during the Korean War, and would frequently ship furniture and other personal belongings back to the States via Air Cargo Transport. During "The Last Flight of the Dixie Damsel," General Havermeyer had shipped a vintage automobile, which he had purchased for his wife on the occasion of their 20th wedding anniversary.

Jessica is therefore determined to prove that there was a sixth individual on board the Dixie Damsel, supported by the fact that the five parachutes were all missing from the cargo supply, and because she discovers another clue upon examining the vintage automobile.

But that evening, outside of the bar of Gondolier Restaurant, First Mugger (Gerry Okuneff) and Second Mugger (Bob Minor) ambush one of the suspects in a knife attack.


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