Made-for-tv film (1974). Cine Films Inc/Cinemobile Productions for NBC-TV. Produced by Gerald L Adler. Directed by Jud Taylor. Written by George E Simpson and Neal R Burger. Cast includes Bradford Dillman, Glenn Ford, Robert F Lyons, Greg Mullavey, Kent Smith, David Soul and Guy Stockwell. Narrator: Herbert Ellis (uncredited). 72 minutes. Black and white/colour.
US Air Force patrol 412, led by Captain Roy Bishop (Soul) and his crew including Lieutenant Tony Podryski (Mullavey) and Captain Cliff Riggs (Lyons), is sent aloft with two fighter jets to investigate UFOs detected by radar. The fighters abruptly vanish as they close on the unknowns which then rapidly depart. Ordered to land at an abandoned air base in the Nevada desert, Bishop and his men are held for an eighteen-hour debriefing designed to persuade them that they saw neither the UFOs nor the vanishing. Meanwhile their commanding officer Colonel Pete Moore (Ford) and his assistant Major Mike Dunning (Dillman) have been searching for the missing crew, and locate them at the old air base. After considerable conflict with Lieutenant-Colonel Trottman (Stockwell), head of the debriefing unit, the men are released, with Podryski agreeing to cooperate with the cover-up while Bishop and the others refuse. Bishop and the rest are duly passed over for advancement while Podryski is promoted. Moore consults his old friend General Enright (Smith), but even he is unable to help, and suggests that Moore consider early retirement. Another similar UFO incident is reported as the film concludes.
Originally broadcast as part of the NBC Movie of the Week series, The Disappearance of Flight 412 is told in a quasi-documentary style, including shots of alleged actual UFOs and considerable stock footage of fighter planes. It was the first film to exploit the returning US interest in UFOs despite the closing of the Air Force investigation Project Blue Book in 1969, and can be considered a low-budget ancestor of both Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and the Paranoia depicted in later television series such as The X-Files (1993-2002). It has since lapsed into the public domain, and is available in many home video releases. [GSt]
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