Fate Is the Hunter

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Fate Is the Hunter

Starring Glenn Ford
Nancy Kwan
Rod Taylor
Dorothy Malone
Directed by Ralph Nelson
Produced by Aaron Rosenberg
Written by Ernest K. Gann (book)
Harold Medford
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Released 1964
Runtime 106 minutes
Country USA Flag of USA.png
language English
IMDB Info 0058091 on IMDb

Fate Is the Hunter - The Film

Fate Is the Hunter is a 1964 film about the crash of an airliner and the subsequent investigation. It was nominally based on the bestselling 1961 novel of the same name (see below) by Ernest K. Gann, but the author was so disappointed with the result, he asked to have his name removed from the credits. In his autobiography A Hostage to Fortune, Gann wrote, "They obliged and as a result I deprived myself of the TV residuals, a medium in which the film played interminably."

The movie starred Glenn Ford and Nancy Kwan and included performances by Suzanne Pleshette, Rod Taylor, Jane Russell (playing herself entertaining for the USO in a flashback sequence), and Wally Cox.

Plot summary

Pilot Jack Savage (Rod Taylor) is suspected of drinking and causing an airliner crash that leaves only a single survivor. His wartime buddy, airline executive Sam C. McBane (Glenn Ford) is convinced of his friend's innocence and investigates doggedly.

Eventually a test flight re-creating the actual flight shows that the crash was caused by a cup of coffee spilling and shorting out critical wiring.

Cultural References

An excerpt of this movie was used on 1980 comedy Airplane!.

The film "Fate is the Hunter" is mentioned several times in the 1995 television episode "JAG: Pilot Error"; it provides the protagonist with a clue in solving a fighter jet crash shown in this T.V. film.

Fate Is the Hunter - The Book

Fate Is the Hunter was a 1961 bestseller by aviation author Ernest K. Gann. Autobiographical, though reading at times like an adventure novel, it describes his years working as a pilot at American Airlines starting in DC-2s and DC-3s when civilian air transport was in its infancy, wartime flying in C-54s and C-87s, and later Matson Navigation's upstart airline and various post-WWII "nonscheduled" airlines in DC-4s.

Reviewing the book on its appearance, Martin Caidin wrote that his reminiscences "stand excitingly as individual chapter-stories, but the author has woven them superbly into a lifetime of flight." Roger Bilstein, in a history of flight, says that of books that discuss airline operations from the pilot's point of view, "few works of this genre equal E. K. Gann's Fate Is the Hunter, which strikingly evokes the atmosphere of air transport flying during the 1930s."

The plot of the 1964 movie of the same name had no relation to the book. Gann had written some early drafts of the script, but was so unhappy with the final result that he asked to have his name removed from it. In his autobiography, A Hostage to Fortune, Gann wrote, "They obliged and as a result I deprived myself of the TV residuals, a medium in which the film played interminably."

The plot of the fictional book, The High and the Mighty, (written by Gann) bears some resemblance to one of the true stories in Fate is the Hunter. On a flight from Hawaii to San Francisco a mysterious vibration puzzled the flight crew during the entire trip. The vibration was later traced to a malfunction that would have likely caused the plane to crash had they not inadvertently maintained a higher-than-normal airspeed throughout the flight. Another fictional book by Gann, Island in the Sky, is also based on a true story told in Fate is the Hunter.

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