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Film / Fate Is the Hunter

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Fate Is the Hunter is a 1964 American drama film directed by Ralph Nelson and loosely based on the 1961 memoir of the same name by Ernest K. Gann.

Sam McBane (Glenn Ford) is an airline executive who investigates a plane crash that claimed the lives of all the passengers and crew, except for stewardess Martha Webster (Suzanne Pleshette). One of the pilots was Jack Savage (Rod Taylor), an idiosyncratic wartime buddy of Sam's. The crash is attributed to a pilot-error committed by Jack, who is suspected of having been drunk at the time. Sam doesn't believe this and interviews Jack's friends and lovers to ascertain what really happened before take-off.

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Tropes:

  • Clear Their Name: Almost everyone is eager to blame Jack for the plane crash. Sam doesn't want his wartime buddy's name getting smeared after his death and seeks to prove the plane crash wasn't his fault.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: All that remains of little Sandra after the plane crash is her opened suitcase, with her doll prominently displayed.
  • Glamorous Wartime Singer: Sam sees a lace garter in Jack's room, causing him to reminisce about watching Jane Russell as she performed for the soldiers. She threw her garter at Sam and promised him a date. However he was forced to miss it because of a mission, so Jack took the chance instead (much to Sam's chagrin), and got the other garter after claiming to her that he lost the other one.
  • Happily Adopted: Sally was adopted by British parents after becoming orphaned in China. She is happy about it, saying she would not have gotten the opportunities she did otherwise.
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  • Meet Cute: Jack and Sally first meet while he's fishing. As a passionate oceanographer and ichthyologist, she is offended that he caught a fish and bodily forces him to let it go, saying fish are meant to be admired and studied. They bicker for a bit, but quickly get friendly and fall in love.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Sandra's shocked mother staggers around in the plane's wreckage and falls to her knees when she chances upon her daughter's belongings.
  • The Radio Dies First: The airplane's radio failed as part of a series of cascading failures that led to its disastrous crash landing. Oddly, the same thing happened on a test flight although they had none of the other problems. They found that the problems on the first flight had caused the captain's coffee to spill and seep into the electronics. This knocked out the radio and caused a false alarm in a good engine.
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  • Sole Survivor: Stewardess Martha Webster was the only one to survive the plane crash. This makes her important towards the end, when Sam decides to reenact the disaster from the take-off to the crash and Martha is the only one who can help him walk through exactly what happened.
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