‘UFOs came down and snatched these things and people away.’
A newlywed couple mysteriously disappear when travelling in the Bermuda Triangle and a friend of the family begins looking for them. Meanwhile the bride’s young daughter begins hearing her mother’s voice…
Just 10 months after the ABC TV Network debuted its fairly silly film (‘Satan’s Triangle’ (1975)) about the great maritime mystery of The Bermuda Triangle, rivals NBC came up with their own take on the question. Opening with a short pre-credit sequence, we see a shot of the ocean accompanied by the significant proclamations of VoiceOver Man, who sounds particularly important here. This sea was ‘never meant for man’ apparently, and maybe ‘not for God’ either! Wow.
Unfortunately, nothing that follows in the next 75 minutes is remotely as entertaining as that. Instead, the film focuses on the extended family and friends of retired businessman, and yacht captain, Fred MacMurray, who is throwing a party on board to send a newly married couple on their way. The husband tests speedboats for designer Sam Groom, and so naturally chooses one of these to take his new bride to their honeymoon destination on Bimini. One spinning compass and scrambled radio message later, and they’ve vanished.
MacMurray and Groom look into it as the authorities are typically clueless, recruiting the boat builder’s old flame Donna Mills to look after the bride’s daughter, Dana Plato. She keeps hearing her lost mother’s voice. And that’s about your lot. So little happens in the course of the story that it’s almost criminal. We get one static talking scene after another and when Groom’s boat breaks down because of a ruptured fuel line, it’s actually one of the film’s highlights. The SFX consists of some very brief blinking lights on a couple of the actor’s faces.
Performances are as flat and lifeless as Charles McDaniel’s pointless script, which consists of character interactions so predictable that staying awake until the climax becomes a serious challenge. And it’s really not worth it anyway. The film presents no real resolution to its story and ends on the biggest damp squib that you can possibly imagine.
MacMurray was a bona fide Hollywood star back in the classic studio era, appearing to great box office effect in lightweight entertainment such as ‘Little Old New York’ (1940) and ‘The Lady ls Willing’ (1942) (opposite Marlene Dietrich), before turning to the dark side in Billy Wilder’s riveting ‘Double Indemnity’ (1944). His fame translated into the television era too; as the lead on the hugely popular sitcom ‘My Three Sons’, which ran for 12 years. This ﬁlm was his penultimate screen appearance, as he unwisely returned to the big screen one more time for Irwin Allen’s disastrous ‘The Swarm’ (1978), which would have been enough to persuade anyone to call it quits.
Groom found fame on TV as ‘Dr Simon Locke’ and Mills on 236 episodes of ‘Dallas’ spin-off ‘Knot’s Landing.’ Director William A Graham was in the chair for TV movies of the week such as ‘Police Story: The Freeway Killings’ (1987), ‘Death of A Cheerleader’ (1994), and ‘Guyana Tragedy: The Story of lim Jones’ (1980). He also worked on three episodes of ‘The X-Files.’ The 11-year old Plato found fame on sitcom ‘Different Strokes’ before the end of the decade, but died in 1999 after her life spiralled into a toxic mixture of drink, crime and drug use.
ABC’s ‘Satan’s Triangle’ (1975) may have been pretty idiotic, but at least it had some energy to it, and therefore a level of entertainment. This effort has none. How it got past the script stage and into production is a bigger mystery than anything that the film presents, apart from maybe how a seasoned professional like MacMurray got attached to it.
The sort of project that gave the ‘Made for Television Movie’ label such a bad name in the 1970s.