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When Noah Dugan agrees to fly missionary Bernadette Lafleur and her cargo of animals to a remote island, its only because he is on the run from a couple of bookies. What neither of them know is that two of Miss Lafleur's young students have stowed away with the animals & Miss Lafleur's transistor radio has interfered with the plane's instruments and they're all now miles off course. After a forced landing on a remote island, Dugan, Bernadette, Bobby and Julie discover that they are not alone. Together with two Japanese soldiers who have been stranded on the island since WWII, they must turn the plane into a seaworthy boat if they are ever to make it home. When Bobby and Julie insist that they cannot leave the animals behind, the converted plane truly becomes a second Noah's ArkWritten by
April M. Cheek <Aravis2713@aol.com>
Elliott Gould in benign Disney-mode--like a G-rated Bogart
Unemployed pilot must pay 5 G's in 24 hours to his bookmaker or else his goons will work him over; he reluctantly accepts a job flying a feisty missionary and her farm animals to an island in the South Pacific in a rickety B-29 bomber, but the plan goes awry. First, the couple is joined by two stowaway orphans who are worried about the animals, then the plane goes off-course and the pilot is forced to crash land the aircraft on the beach of an uncharted island--inhabited by two Japanese soldiers who are unaware that WWII is over. In the first half of the 1970s, Elliott Gould made film after film, mostly counterculture comedies which established him as an anti-hero; he appealed to the young people of the era who hoped to shout down the Establishment. By 1980, Gould had become part of the Establishment, a working stiff in Hollywood, and the industry's middle ground (Disney) was eager to turn him into a grouchy sweetie-puss, a Bogart father-figure for marriage-minded women and wet-eyed youngsters. Gould doesn't embarrass himself here--he's firm with both the kids and the missionary (a forthright but not stubborn Genevieve Bujold)--but he's coasting, his energy at half-mast. The film, adapted from Ernest K. Gann's story "The Gremlin's Castle", has elements of "Swiss Family Robinson", "The African Queen" and even (God help us) "Jaws", but director Charles Jarrott blessedly keeps it moving instead of stopping to preach. There are things Jarrott probably had no control over, such as the kids fussing and crying over the animals or Maurice Jarre's cloying music, which tugs at the tear ducts. It doesn't quite work, but there are compensations. Gould and Bujold manage to develop a faintly-warm rapport, and Charles F. Wheeler's cinematography is excellent. The island location is lovely, and the Japanese men (John Fujioka and Yuki Shimoda) are handled with respect. As for the bookmaker, we are to assume he got his money, and also that the seasick bull made a speedy recovery. This is Disney, after all. **1/2 from ****
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