The Passenger (1975) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • Unable to find the war he's been asked to cover, a frustrated war correspondent takes the risky path of co-opting the identity of a dead arms-deal acquaintance.

  • A journalist researching a documentary in the Sahara Desert meets a gunrunner who dies suddenly. When the journalist notices that they have a similar appearance, he assumes the recently-deceased's identity and accepts the consequences that it brings.

  • A reporter arrives at a desert hotel in a North African country in the Sahara Desert to report on the guerrillas fighting there. He meets a man who dies suddenly; noting the man's striking appearance to him, the reporter decides to change identities with him--to escape his personal problems and more. A man's life is made of his ingrained habits, and that will haunt the reporter as he tries to start a relationship with a strange young woman he meets.

  • David Locke is a television reporter on location in Africa's Sahara Desert. It's hot, humid, and everything seems to be dirty. Returning to his hotel after getting lost and bogged down in the desert, he discovers that the man in the room next to his has died. After deciding that his own life isn't worth living anymore, he switches identities with the dead man, taking the man's passport (with his own photo swapped in), his luggage, and his appointment schedule. Leaving Africa, he heads off to keep the dead man's appointments, hoping that his new life will be more interesting than his old one.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • David Locke (Jack Nicholson) is a reporter sent to the African deserts to report on activities there and discovers the dead body of an acquaintance, a man named Robertson. Seeking escape from his mundane life Locke takes on the identity of Robertson discovering many peculiar secrets of the dead man, one of which is that he is taking large amounts of money for supplying illegal arms to African terrorists. Along the way Locke spots an attractive Girl (Maria Schneider) and strikes up a conversation with her. When Locke finds out that one of his old reporter friends, Martin Knight (Ian Hendry), is looking for Robertson to interview him, Locke gets the Girl to help him escape and they run away together. As the reporters and Locke's wife close in with the Police, the man with the stolen identity realizes some serious facts about his life and its place in the world.

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