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Film / Without a Trace (1983)

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You may be looking for Without a Trace, a 2002 police procedural created by Hank Steinberg.

Without a Trace is a 1983 drama film directed by Stanley R Jaffe, based on the book Still Missing by author Beth Gutcheon about the disappearance of Etan Pataz.

A boy disappears when going to school and the police are called to locate him and find out where he is and what had happened to him.

The film stars Kate Nelligan, Judd Hirsch, David Dukes, and Stockard Channing and was released on February 4, 1983.

Tropes for the film:

  • Big Damn Reunion: Susan's son Alex is kidnapped at the beginning of the movie and they are reunited at the very end. When she spots him, the camera zooms in on her stunned reaction. He smiles and calls out to her, she drops her groceries, they run to each other, the music swelling, and she catches him in a hug.
  • Missing Child: Susan's son disappeared after she saw him off and there are worries that he might not even be alive.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: The building's handyman is initially a suspect after the police find a bloodstained pair of boy's underwear among his things. He tells them that he cut his hand and grabbed the first thing he could find to use as a bandage (the briefs had presumably been discarded some time before).
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Based on the disappearance of Etan Patz. Though Patz was never found (though his murderer was convicted in the early '10s), Alex is found alive and is reunited with his mother in the end.