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The President's Plane Is Missing (film)

The President's Plane Is Missing is a 1973 American television film directed by Daryl Duke with a screenplay by Ernest Kinoy and Mark Carliner based upon the Robert J. Serling novel of the same name. It aired on the ABC Movie of the Week.

The President's Plane Is Missing
The President's Plane is Missing VHS cover.jpg
VHS box coverart
Based onThe novel of the same name
by Robert J. Serling
Screenplay by
Directed byDaryl Duke
Music byGil Melle
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Producer(s)Mark Carliner
Peter Gettinger (co-producer)
CinematographyRichard C. Glouner
Editor(s)John F. Link
Running time100 minutes
Production company(s)ABC Circle Films
Original networkABC
Original release
  • October 23, 1973 (1973-10-23) (United States)



With diplomatic tensions building and the United States facing a possible military confrontation with China, Air Force One mysteriously crashes in the desert while heading to California, with U.S. President, Jeremy Haines, on board. While the crash is being investigated and the President's fate is yet uncertain, Vice-President, Kermit Madigan, becomes Acting President. Unfortunately, Haines had left him uninformed of current foreign policies. Madigan must now rely on the late President's aides to fill him in on information he lacks, while the aides attempt to further their own agendas.

National Security Advisor, George Oldenburg, claims that Haines was preparing to go to war if the Chinese did not back down, while career diplomat Secretary of state, Freeman Sharkey, asserts that Haines was pursuing a peaceful solution to the problem with China. Madigan's wife, Hester, sees this as an opportunity to advance his career, but the Washington political community doubts his competence. In dealing with growing tensions and conflicting advice, Madigan struggles to avoid a nuclear war with China. Meanwhile, it turns out that President Haines was not aboard the crashed plane after all.



Robert J. Serling's 1967 novel spent multiple weeks on The New York Times Bestseller List and its success enabled Serling to become a full-time writer.[1] Serling later penned a sequel to the novel entitled Air Force One Is Haunted, which centered around former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt haunting the current President whenever he boards Air Force One.[2]


The President's Plane Is Missing was completed for release in 1971, but due to then-President Richard Nixon's ongoing diplomatic relationship with and planned visit to China it was decided to postpone release of a film which painted China in a negative light[3][4][5] until after Nixon's return from his visit to China.[6]

The President's Plane Is Missing was released on October 23, 1973,[7] as a period piece.[8]


In Cinema and Nation, when comparing The President's Plane Is Missing to such films as JFK (1991) and The Manchurian Candidate (1962) reviewers noted that while many films use a premise that actual democracy is an illusion, this one was rare in that it turned the President into an action hero.[9] In 1988, the reviewer for the Sydney Morning Herald wrote that it was a "dull film despite an excellent cast."[10]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ McLellan, Dennis. "Robert J. Serling dies at 92; one of the nation's top aviation writers." Los Angeles Times, May 20, 2010. Retrieved: December 1, 2015.
  2. ^ "Review: Air Force One is haunted." Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 1984. Retrieved: December 1, 2015.
  3. ^ McKenna 2013, p. 297.
  4. ^ "Overview: 'The President's Plane is Missing' (1973)." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: December 1, 2015.
  5. ^ Dudek, Duane. "Will Malaysian airliner mystery join missing plane movie genre?" Journal Sentinel, March 20, 2014. Retrieved: December 1, 2015.
  6. ^ "Overview: 'President's Plane Is Missing' - TV Movie." The New York Times. Retrieved: December 1, 2015.
  7. ^ "TV Scout". The Victoria Advocate, October 23, 1973. Retrieved: December 1, 2015.
  8. ^ "Review: 'The President's Plane Is Missing' (1971)." The Harvard Crimson, October 18, 1973. Retrieved: December 1, 2015.
  9. ^ Hjort and Mackenzie (2005), Cinema and Nation, pp. 38–39.
  10. ^ "Fine cast can't save this one." The Sydney Morning Herald, August 21, 1988. Retrieved: December 1, 2015.


  • Hjort, Mette and Scott Mackenzie. Cinema and Nation. London: Routledge, 2005.ISBN 978-0-4152-0863-5.
  • McKenna, Michael. The ABC Movie of the Week: Big Movies for the Small Screen. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2013. ISBN 978-0-8108-9156-2.

External linksEdit