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Sole Survivor (9-Jan-1970)

Director: Paul Stanley

Writer: Guerdon Trueblood

Keywords: Action/Adventure, Airplane Crash

NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Ian Abercrombie
Actor
11-Sep-1934 26-Jan-2012 Alfred Pennyworth on Birds of Prey
Richard Basehart
Actor
31-Aug-1914 17-Sep-1984 La Strada
Vince Edwards
Actor
7-Jul-1928 11-Mar-1996 Ben Casey
William Shatner
Actor
22-Mar-1931   Captain Kirk on Star Trek
Patrick Wayne
Actor
15-Jul-1939   Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger

CAST

Vince Edwards   ...   Maj. Michael Devlin
Richard Basehart   ...   Brig Gen. Russell Hamner
William Shatner   ...   Lt. Colonel Josef Gronke
Lou Antonio   ...   Tony
Lawrence P. Casey   ...   Gant
Dennis Cooney   ...   Brandy
Brad David   ...   Elmo
Patrick Wayne   ...   Mac
Alan Caillou   ...   Corey
Timur Bashtu   ...   Beddo
Noah Keen   ...   Maj. Gen. Schurm
Ian Abercrombie   ...   British Co-Pilot
David Cannon   ...   Capt. Patrick
John Winston   ...   British Pilot

REVIEWS

Review by Don (posted on 25-May-2009)

Like so many of the other reviewers here, I am amazed and encouraged that I wasn't just making up this movie in my mind! I, too, saw it as a young teenager decades ago. And I too have found no one else in my immediate circle of friends that ever heard of it. And yet, some particular scenes in the movie stay with me to this day. I try to explain to my pals who never saw the movie just how heartbreaking and emotional the moment was when the modern day 'rescue' team speeds up in a jeep. The crew of ghosts gather along side the fuselage, lining up for inspection, so to speak. The ranking ghost officer comes to attention, and snaps a salute to the modern day recovery team, and for just a split second...a hanging moment in time, the recovery team honcho seems to look him in the eye, reaches up his right hand as if to return the salute, then simply grasps the brim of his cap and simply adjusts how it is sitting. In that instant, the crew realizes the truth that they cannot be seen, that they are indeed dead. And me, along with the entire TV viewing audience, felt this incredible wave of disappointment...no, of abandonment, for these guys and for anyone else who might ever wind up in their predicatment. Maybe it was that visceral fear of abandonment and separation from family, friends, associates in the world, that gave this movie such a terrific impact to me as a young teenager...and to some of the other reviewers listed here. thanks to the authors of this page, and thanks to the other reviewers for their comments. --don


Review by Anonymous (posted on 8-Oct-2007)

I've seen two versions of this movie. The first was probably the full version. As the "ghost crew's" bodies are found their ghosts start disappearing from the plane. Some of the crew when still alive after the crash attempt to walk off into the desert to find help (not realising where they are), They eventually collapse and die one by one. Their bodies are the last to be found. The poor chap buried under the tail is never found so is in limbo for eternity. The closing credits show the name of the movie changing from 'Sole Survivor' (William Shatner who bailed out) to 'Soul Survivor' (the last remaing ghost from the crew). The second version I saw had the last part missing where the rescuers go in search of the bodies that had wandered off when alive.


Review by TJ (posted on 9-Mar-2005)

This movie has stuck in the back of my mind every since I saw it in the 70's. A powerful film that since about 10 years ago has been driving me crazy to remember the name of it. For a long time I thought it was a movie released to theater. I finally remembered that Richard Basehart was a main character and researched all his movies. I have to agree that this movie is definitely one of my "top 5" movies of all time. I too wish that this movie be released in DVD format for all future generations to enjoy.


Review by anonymous (posted on 2-Jul-2006)

This is a movie that is contsantly jumping in my head but like everyone else, couldn't recall the name. I loved this made for TV movie. I first saw it as a ten or eleven year old and have longed to see it again. The sub-plot was a little tired but probably necessary to carry the 90 minute timeline. I would love to be able to get a copy of this movie. The cast was strong as I recall. Richard Basehart, Vince Edwards and was it Bill Shatner, not a bad start. It was the characters that kept me watching and the denouemont still managed to surprise me. Even after the second and third viewings the end always satisfied. b


Review by victor merrick (posted on 12-Jul-2007)

Not so much a review for, as others, i'd seen this when just a teen, but recall its chilling and lasting affect. True, that maybe it will not impress me so much some 50yrs later; but that does not detract from such a storyline, which was surely inventive for its time. Mainly, this is to advise that this movie is available on dvd at Classical Movies on DVD (and at a moderate price). If you like war-based movies (without the gore) and enjoy the supernatural, then this movie will be most appealing. It is certainly a one-of-a-kind and as other reviewers commented, its age lends texture to the 'other dimension'theme and a modern re-make(no matter how good)would probably fail to capture the understated atmosphere. VM


Review by Richard Winstanley (posted on 17-Jul-2007)

Very WEIRD! After reading the commnents from others I realized that I was not the only one left with such impact by the movie. I have been hunting for this movie and like the others here I saw this on one late night with my dad and I was about 10. This in one of the movie that have scene implants in my brain but cannot remember the title! At last, I am now narrowed down to hunting the actual copy since I have the movie details. Seriously weird on how a movie can leave a lasting impression to people all over the world!


Review by Reb (posted on 21-Feb-2005)

This movie is as rare as hens teeth and for some reason Warner Bros have never seen the need to release it for DVD. Word has it that most available copies of it are low quality commercial TV edits that often miss critical scenes and leave the viewer perplexed.

I first saw this movie on late night (early morning!) TV as a teenager. Mum, Dad and the rest of us were getting ready to hit the sack, but ater seeing just a couple of minutes of the start we just couldn't drag ourselves away. It is certainly one of those movies that stays in the minds of everybody I know that has seen it. We had many friends that asked us over the next few weeks whether we had seen this great movie about the missing plane...

It is quite a moving story that is handled skilfully by the director and becomes quite harrowing in the end. A real gem among the "made for TV" genre. Even the steeliest male will have a lump in the throat as the final scenes are played out.

Essentially the story is about the discovery of a WWII bomber in the Libyan desert 25 years after it was lost. The story begins with the wreckage of the plane in the desert and the airmen gathered around it and chatting about being rescued and going home. They pass the time waiting for rescue by playing baseball constantly. Over the course of the film it becomes apparent that the men we are seeing are ghosts, whose souls are in limbo until their remains are discovered and returned home. My memory is that the airmen themselves don't quite understand or accept there fate, but gradually over the movie they come to grasp the reality. The final scenes were their bodies and dog chains are removed from the plane are TOTALLY unforgettable. The real power of the movie is somewhat distracted by a precdictable (but necessary) sub-plot of how the plane came to be there -- the navigator made an error and bailed out and left the others to die. He has since become a general and is trying to cover up his tracks.

As I said earlier -- a deadset classic waiting to be reborn. I have only seen it once so perhaps a second viewing would not lend itself as well -- but put it on you "must see it before I die list".


Review by David (posted on 14-Feb-2009)

After reading all the comments posted here, I too feel like a sole survivor, finally discovered and returned home. It is as Georges stated, I feel like a part of a "strange community" of folks powerfully affected by this film. I remember watching it years ago on late night television. It was the early 1970s. I was 10-11 years old, lying on the floor of my Grandmother's house having a sleepover with my cousin Norm who was visiting from Ohio. We watched in front of an old black and white TV housed in a big mahogany cabinet. The film moved me powerfully, and has stuck in my mind for years. I played baseball as a kid, and the baseball pastime (to literally pass the time, for all eternity for the sole survivor) resonated with me. Like many others here, I have searched and searched for a copy of this film. I searched on Amazon.com. No luck. I joined Netflix. It's not there. It was indeed like some dream from long ago. Does it really exist, I wondered? Did I ever really see it? A tale of haunting that has haunted me for years. My eyes welled with tears as I stumbled across this site today, and read these posts from a community of other sole (soul) survivors, so deeply impacted by this lonely, lost, haunting film. Thank you all for the sense of peace, and connection, and closure I felt as I read your comments here. And thank you in particular to Victor for the reference as to where to purchase a copy of the film. I look forward to watching it with my son--a military history buff and "Call of Duty" gamer--and sharing with him this very strange indeed ghostly possession. --David.


Review by anonymous (posted on 8-Apr-2006)

This is the greatest war movie ever made, I've been searching for it on the internet for years. I remember seeing it several times late night as a kid and I've been haunted by this film ever since. The relationships of 5 guys who are stranded after wrecking their bomber in the desert. Every time they try to walk away from the plane they end up being transported back to the wreck as if by magic. So they are stuck playing baseball ever day forever. After the other 4 guys bodies are found, the last one is left behind to play baseball by himself for eternity. The ending scene is classic...after everyone else leaves, he goes to the plane, picks up the baseball, mitt and bat and walks about ten feet away from the plane. He sets down the mitt, hits the baseball as far as he can, sets down the bat and picks up the mit and starts to walk after the ball; and you know that that is what he will be doing for eternity since unlike his friends his body will never be found. Awesome, awesome movie. I'd pay hundreds of dollars for a good copy of this great film. If you see it, its memory will stick with you and haunt you for your entire life.


Review by Greg Pfeiffer (posted on 24-Feb-2005)

I too had seen the movie at least twice when I was younger. If you are a fan of military/aviation/WWII, I'm sure you would enjoy this movie from start to finish -- most memorably the finish. Definitely a moving picture and deserves to be re-released. I'm not sure that I would want to see it re-made though. I'd be afraid that it would be "over produced" by today's standards. Somethings should stay the same...

I found myself thinking again of this movie after recently taking my two sons to the US Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. We were looking at the exhibit of the "Lady Be Good", a B-24 Liberator that I believe was the inspiration for this movie, when I had asked my son, a 19 year old who is very much into World War II history, if he had ever seen it. When he said he had not, it made me realize how long it had been since I in fact had as well.


Review by John Buckman (posted on 5-Feb-2008)

I saw this film only once on UK TV at least 25+ years ago and have ever since been waiting for it to be repeated - but in vain. I have written to all the UK broadcasters pleading for a reshowing without success. How do you get through to the numb heads that control the distribution and broacasting of films? Like all the other reviewers, this film has made a lasting impression on me and is without doubt the best movie of its type EVER, including "big screen" releases. It needs some influential celebrity or film buff to take up the cause and get the film released on DVD. Anyone friendly with Barry Norman?


Review by Larry (posted on 26-Mar-2009)

Like everyone else, I too have been waiting for this movie to be shown again. It stays with you. I have always been interested in the "Lady, be good", the B-24D Liberator that went missing and crashed in the Libyan desert in April of 1943 and then was rediscovered in 1958. I saw the "King Nine Will Not Return" episode of Twilight Zone when it was first shown and have seen it many times since. It is good but it does not grab you the way "Sole Survivor" did. The best that I can remember is that it was Richard Basehart who played the General that had bailed out and left the crew. (Someone else in one of the reviews said it was William Shatner who bailed out.) I "think" the name of the bomber was "HOME RUN". That ties in with their playing baseball. William Shatner's character was trying to protect the General even if it meant covering up the incident whereas Vince Edwards' character was determined to get the truth as to exactly what happened. At the end of the movie, I can't remember exactly how, Vince Edwards' character, after finding the crew's remains, figures out that one of the crew had returned to the plane. As Tony (crewman) is left alone at the plane, you see Edwards driving back to the plane for one last look.


Review by Georges (posted on 3-Jun-2008)

I have been living my adult life trying to remember this story I saw on TV as a kid (I'm 44). It felt like a long forgotten dream. All I remembered was the chills it gave me. I couldn't recall how old I was at the time or any of the actors. All I remembered was the impression it made on me when it was revealed that the crew were actually spirits who didn't know they were dead! It was like seeing the end of the Planet of the Apes all those years ago. At any rate, it made quite an impression on me and I couldn't put it out of my mind. With the advent of the internet I started poking around to see if anything would come up. At first, I started looking up synopses of Twilight Zone or Outer Limits episodes to no avail. Then, with a few choice key words, I finally discovered that I wasn't the only one trying to find the same thing. Well, now I feel like I'm part of a strange community of people who were "lightly traumatized" as children by this shared experience. Something akin to a group of abductees finding each other online. Now I have a title, actors names, and the hope of finding a copy of the movie someday. At least, I now know it wasn't a dream.... Georges


Review by Noorul Hilal (posted on 24-Mar-2008)

Gosh... I though I'm the only one haunted by this film. I was 17 when I watched in in Malaysian TV, but I failed to remember the title. Now I'm 39 and still I kept thinking about the film. Since I didn't know the title,from time to time I've tried googling keyword "bomber + WW2 + desert + dead + ghost" and such. Finally I found it. To my amazement, it turn out this film has haunted a lot of peoples around the globe. I think we should forward a petition to the producer/distributor to release it in DVD form. This film definitely 1 of the 5 movie to watch before I die. I wish to watch this movie with my sons. Thank you


Review by Steve Nelson (posted on 30-May-2008)

Like many others this movie has stuck in my mind for years. I made a flyby shot of it on 8mm years ago as a teen using an old model of a b-17. It looked really good too. In later years I've come to see how much the ideas from this one movie have shaped my life. Just like Star Trek shaped my life also. Today I lost my job and I started thinking about this movie again. I've thought often how similar this movie is to my life. People not from Utah may not understand though. I believe it's the culture here. Succeed at something or you are a nobody, worthless... It's also like a beautiful picture postcard. The beautiful snow & mountains of Utah. Once you're trapped here in that postcard you can never leave. You can walk away as many times as you want, but you always return to where you started. I thought I had it made, I had a small business that was a going thing. It was hot, I was making real money. I could travel to LA to buy stuff for my store, or do things with my family when I wanted. But I died, my life died, my family died when the Mormons made up a Lie about me and ran me out of business. Since then I've gone from job to job working hard and never making anything for my efforts. My family was destroyed! I told my son that if I can get a little money tomarrow maybe we can get an icecream or something. But that's all I can do for him. I invited my lovely new wife to come here from the Philippines but now that she's here trapped as I am she can't leave either. She found after comming here that I'm really a poor man with no future. I could not help her go home when her father died nor when her brother died. All I could do is watch like one of those ghosts at the plane as she was trapped by the cycle that exists here. Utah really is the Hotel California or the plane in the desert. I just hope someone can find me and bury me. Maybe I can then escape and help my family too. Lost in the Utah desert, I am a real person. I am Steve Nelson


Review by Chad (posted on 21-Aug-2007)

I like everyone else here was touched, moved, haunted, and creeped out. This film has been popping back in my head for years and is an absolute must see! There must be something that shocks people to the core the hope in the face of hopelessness and being alone for all of eternity. What I believe rattles peoples cage, is these inately innocent men are condemmed to an eternity of waiting with no real hope for no rael reason. The ending will really freak you out if you have not seen it. Waaaaay ahead of the 'Sixth Sence' and better! Remember the scene when the boy is playing with the toy soldiers? I hope this film is released some day on DVD it will blow you away


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