The Groundstar Conspiracy

The Groundstar Conspiracy is a 1972 American Technicolor neo noir crime film directed by Lamont Johnson. It stars George Peppard and Michael Sarrazin.[1][2]

The Groundstar Conspiracy
DVD cover
Directed byLamont Johnson
Produced byFrank Arrigo
Earl A. Glick
Hal Roach Jr.
Trevor Wallace
Written byDouglas Heyes
Based onthe novel The Alien by L. P. Davies
StarringGeorge Peppard
Michael Sarrazin
Christine Belford
Music byPaul Hoffert
CinematographyMichael Reed
Edited byEdward M. Abroms
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • June 21, 1972 (1972-06-21)
Running time
95 minutes
United States

Douglas Heyes' screenplay (written under his frequent pseudonym, Matthew Howard) was adapted very freely from L. P. Davies' 1968 novel, The Alien. It was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia and produced by Hal Roach Productions[3] in Canada.


Employee John David Welles attempts to steal rocket booster plans from the Groundstar facility. His attempt goes awry and he is badly disfigured in an explosion and barely escapes. He stumbles to the home of Nicole Devon, and collapses. She calls an ambulance, the authorities are alerted, and soon Welles is operated on, given plastic surgery and interrogated by a hard-boiled government official named Tuxan. But Welles claims to have no memory of his crime. In fact, he claims no memory of his life at all, save for brief glimpses of a woman and small boy frolicking on a beach.

Despite Tuxan's brutal interrogation techniques (electro-shock and water submersion), Welles still maintains his story of total amnesia. Tuxan allows Welles to escape, hoping he will lead them to the people behind the attempted theft. Welles goes to Nicole's home and begs her to help him remember. But she knows nothing.

Eventually the inside conspirators behind the attempted theft are found, and Tuxan reveals the truth to Welles, who still cannot remember any details of the crime. John David Welles actually died en route to the hospital on the night of the explosion. The man we have come to know as Welles is really Peter Bellamy, a government employee who recently lost his wife and son in an accident. Bellamy, feeling that life was no longer worth living or remembering, volunteered to have his memory wiped and to play Welles in order to draw the conspirators into the open.



The film was based on the novel The Alien by L.P. Davies. Universal bought film rights in June 1968 prior to publication and assigned Dick Berg to produce.[4]

In July 1971 Universal announced that Michael Sarrazin and George Peppard would star in a film version called The Plastic Man.[5] It would be directed by Lamont Johnson and be a co production between Universal and Hal Roach Productions.[6]

Filming started in Vancouver, Canada on 2 August 1971 with Carol White as the female lead. Shortly into filming White asked to be released and was replaced by Christine Belford. White wanted to go because a production delay meant she was in danger of missing the start date on Made.[7] (Candice Bergen and Tuesday Weld were offered the role but asked for too much money.) All White's footage had to be reshot.[8]

Peppard was paid $400,000.[8]


  1. ^ "The Groundstar Conspiracy (1972) - Lamont Johnson - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related - AllMovie". AllMovie. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  2. ^ GROUNDSTAR CONSPIRACY, The Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 39, Iss. 456, (Jan 1, 1972): 163.
  3. ^ This is the Canadian successor company, not the original company founded by American director and producer Hal Roach.
  4. ^ Kennedy, Mitchumn Signed for Film Roles Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 1 July 1968: e25.
  5. ^ Emperor George?: He's Emperor George C. Scott By A. H. WEILER. New York Times 25 July 1971: D13.
  6. ^ Peppard as 'Plastic' Star Murphy, Mary. Los Angeles Times 9 July 1971: g11.
  7. ^ Italian Film Lead for Dustin Murphy, Mary. Los Angeles Times 31 Aug 1971: e11.
  8. ^ a b Film Industry Making It in Vancouver: Film Industry in Vancouver Films Making It in Vancouver Jennings, C Robert. Los Angeles Times 21 Nov 1971: x1.

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