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The President's Plane Is Missing (1973)

An incompetent Vice President is in control of the government after the President's plane mysteriously disappears with him on board.

Director:

Daryl Duke

Writers:

Mark Carliner (teleplay), Ernest Kinoy (teleplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Buddy Ebsen ... Vice President Kermit Madigan
Peter Graves ... Mark Jones
Arthur Kennedy ... Gunther Damon
Raymond Massey ... Secretary of State Freeman Sharkey
Mercedes McCambridge ... Hester Madigan
Rip Torn ... George Oldenburg
Louise Sorel ... Joanna Spencer
James Wainwright ... Gen. Dunbar
Dabney Coleman ... Sen. Bert Haines
Joseph Campanella ... Col. Doug Henderson
Richard Eastham ... General Colton
Jim B. Smith ... Major Earl Foster (as James B. Smith)
Maida Severn ... Judy Nance
Ivan Bonar ... Colonel to Dunbar
Gary Haynes Gary Haynes ... Rod Pitcher
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Storyline

While on the brink of a military confrontation with China, Air Force One crashes in the desert, killing the President. This brings Vice-President Kermit Madigan to power who, having been left in the dark by the president, must now rely on his predecessor's aides to guide him. But they have markedly different viewpoints and hidden agendas. Will he blunder his way into a nuclear exchange with the Chinese? Written by Alfred Jingle

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Based on the best selling novel! See more »

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 October 1973 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El presidente ha desaparecido See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

ABC Circle Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Filmed in 1971 but delayed for airing by ABC because that was the year of President Richard Nixon's trip to China and they didn't want to show the Chinese as villains. See more »

Goofs

While the President is not aboard Air Force One when it crashes, the plane uses the call sign Air Force One instead of the correct call sign SAM 26001. This is because the flight is a cover for the President's actual, top secret, destination on another aircraft. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Excellent cast, good filming, unfortunate oversights in plot
16 December 2019 | by electric-la23See all my reviews

The film turns on whether or not the President of the United States is, in fact, dead or simply missing. A number of excellent performances including by Arthur Kennedy and Peter Graves. Some filming was done in DC and shows well - other filming was done in LA and this unfortunately is quite apparent. This is a serious film and merits the attention of a more attentive audience as it involves clues and procedures. That makes it all the more disappointing that the procedure by which the Vice President becomes Acting President afforded by the 25th Amendment is not mentioned. Instead, there is no reference to any Constitutional mechanism and even talk of the Chief Justice being summoned should the the Vice President elect to swear himself in to office (!). This amateurish, inexcusable oversight ruins what is otherwise a solid plot carefully and faithfully executed in the filming and performances. It is particularly hard to accept given that filming occurred in 1970-1971, just 3 years after the 25th Amendment dealing with exactly this topic was ratified. That Amendment itself came into force at the time it did in large part due to the assassination of President Kennedy and the swearing into office at Love Field of President Johnson in 1963 - a historic and tragic event that ought to have been on the minds of the script writers. Because the film asks us to take it very seriously and doesn't, in return, provide a Constitutionally-accurate plot with at least a mention of the then-new 25th Amendment, it does not fully succeed in its aspirations as a thriller. Fortunately, (mostly) good acting helps keep the suspense alive. Other quibbles are the fake, semi-British Hollywood accents affected by Rip Torn (whose performance is otherwise bang-on) and Louise Sorel (who unfortunately plays a damsel in semi-distress with a case of the nerves rather than the competent lone female reporter in a man's world that would have been much more credible for the setting). Mercedes McCambridge is denied a larger role which is unfortunate given the strength of her very limited appearances.

Interestingly, the Wikipedia entry cites a source as listing this film as having been released a 'period piece' ( meaning that it was released 2 years after having been filmed, and thus was dated ) - it is amazing how, in 2019, we would not consider, from a technological point of view, at least, something from 2017 to be so dated as to be considered a period piece, such was the pace of change in fashion, music and automotive styles at the time. Interestingly, the plot does mimic Nixon's subsequent-to-filming trip to China in 1972 in which the U.S. played China and Russia off of each other.

A worthwhile film for anyone interested in the era, whether the politics, the contemporary technology/automotive advancement of the day or just the great cast assembled.


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