Ralph Nelson was a talented American director. His credits included Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), Lilies of the Field (1963) with Sidney Poitier in his Oscar winning role and Charly (1968) with Cliff Robertson winning the Oscar.
One of his lesser known films, Fate is the Hunter, was released in 1964 and, other than rare TV screenings has never been available on VHS or DVD. Until now.
Fate is the Hunter was based on a book by Ernest K. Gann. EKG was known for his aviation books and movies, the most famous of which was The High and the Mighty with John Wayne. Although it is said he hated the film version of FITH, I always enjoy another viewing. When I can find one.
The film opens with a plane crash in which one of the main characters, a pilot played by Rod Taylor, and all others aboard are killed. The one exception is a stewardess, Suzanne Pleshette. Why did it happen? This is what the airline investigator, played by Glenn Ford, has to figure out.
This is done using a series of flashbacks and interviews with people who knew the RT character, as he posthumously takes the blame for the accident. Besides RT and GF other actors who are involved in the story are Nancy Kwan, Wally Cox and even Jane Russell. RT is superb as the wrongly accused dead aviator who is pictured as a carefree, womanizing, Blue Moon singing chauvinist, but is greatly admired by those who are interviewed. Glenn F. does a fine job sorting through the clues and eventually piloting a plane in an attempt to recreate and find out what really happened.
Jerry Goldsmith provides a sparse but beautiful main title and melancholy theme. JG also provided the score for Nelson’s Lilies of the Field. Shot in black and white, the DVD is a fine transfer and also features the score and sound effects on an isolated track.
The DVD is in limited release with only 3,000 copies available. If you want to check out this rarely seen classic, look for it before the copies are gone. I have been recommending this film for years to folks. Most have complained that when they tried ordering a copy they received a comedy starring Margaret Rutherford as the first lady to play for the National Football League. Made in 1948 the film was called Kate is the Punter. Do not be misled.
Rated 3.8 out of 4.0 Blue Moons. Not the beer. Not the phenomena. As whistled and sung by Rod Taylor, it is haunting.