Victory at Entebbe (1976) TV

 

 

 

Director:  Marvin J. Chomsky

Starring:  Helmut Berger (German Terrorist), Theodore Bikel (Yakov Shlomo), Linda Blair (Chana Vilnofsky), Kirk Douglas (Hershel Vilnofsky), Richard Dreyfuss (Colonel Yonatan 'Yonni' Netanyahu), Stefan Gierasch (General Mordecai Gur), David Groh (Benjamin Wise), Julius Harris (President Idi Amin), Helen Hayes (Etta Grossman-Wise), Anthony Hopkins (Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin), Burt Lancaster (Shimon Peres), Christian Marquand (Captain Dukas), Elizabeth Taylor (Edra Vilnofsky), Jessica Walter (Nomi Haroun), Harris Yulin (General Dan Shomron).

Made for TV movie.

Israeli raid to free hostages at the Entebbe Airport, Uganda when it was under the murderer Idi Amin.

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

Athens Airport, Sunday , June 27, 1976.  Passengers are lined up to get on a flight. 

The plane takes off.  Conspirators in their seats keep looking at each other and their watches.   The highjackers jump out of their seats with pistols and grenades.  The blonde woman keeps telling everybody to sit down and be quiet.  A guy bursts into the pilot's cabin and starts giving orders as to where the plane should go.   The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Che Guevara crew are in complete control of the airplane. 

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin reads a notice that Air France Flight 139 from Tel Aviv through Athens has fallen out of radio communication.  At least 83 Israelis are on board.  There were over 241 passengers at Athens.  Rabin says Shimon Peres will be in charge of the project. 

Each of the passengers are checked for any kind of weapons.  An Israeli Tank Reserve man wants to try and overpower the highjackers.   Benjam Wise and his mother Etta Grossman-Wise try to talk him out of it.  That doesn't work so they start to ask him about his army experiences.  That distracts the man. 

Rabin says he is not going to personally say anything about the hijacking because right now it's assumed that it is the responsibility of the French because this is an Air France flight.  If they want some announcement, then they will do it through the Department of Transportation.  He reaffirms that it is government policy not to negotiate with terrorists. 

Hershel Vilnofsky hurries back to his apartment and his wife Edra Vilnofsky.  Their daughter Chana is on the plane that has been highjacked.  Edra scolds him for always saying that Israel will not negotiate with terrorists.  She says that Israel does not want to save her little girl. 

The Israelis say the plane is circling Entebbe, Uganda.  They figure that the German group involved may be the Baader-Meinhof terrorist group. 

Monday, June 28, 1976.  Ugandan Airport.  Benjamin sees Idi Amin.  He tells his mother that this man was building a memorial for Adolf Hitler. 

Idi Amin talks to the people who are now at the airport.  He says he convinced the terrorist group to let the people stay in the airport.  Benjamin claps for Idi Amin in order to feed his ego and keep him happy.  Amin says their fate lies in the hands of Israel itself because they will decide whether they will negotiate in good faith or not.  He says, for humanitarian reasons, he will do his best for them.  Again there is some applause for Amin. 

Rabin receives the terrorists' demands.  They demand the release of Palestinians in prison in Israel and elsewhere.  The deadline is Thursday, noon, July 1, 1976.  Rabin now asks Defense Minister Simon Peres what military option does he have available that can be applied to Uganda today?  Peres has to admit he doesn't have an option available right now. 

Benjamin talks with the airplane captain and tells him straight out that the terrorists have said they will kill them on Thursday at noon and sees no reason why anything would stop them. The captain thanks Chana Vilnofsky for bringing the pilots some chocolate candies because it was the very thing they needed to cut the tension a bit in the cockpit.  She tells him that the Israelis won't negotiate with the terrorists. 

Peres tells his generals that he wants a military option he can launch on Uganda.  He specifically asks Col. Yonni to comment on the idea of landing a transport plane at Uganda and getting the hostages out alive. Yonni says he needs more information.  One of the generals says that there is just not enough time to do this, but Peres tells him:  "Do it anyway." 

Tuesday, June 29, 1976.  The terrorists now decide to divide the Israelis off from the other passengers.  Yakov Shlomo survived the Holocaust, but now he feels bad at the news.  He says when they got to the concentration camps they split people up.  Those who went to the right were to be killed in the gas chambers. The pilot protests this segregation of the passengers, but it does him no good. 

Everyone is pushed to the far left.  Then the Israelis are called to go to the far right.  One couple tries to tell them that they are Belgian citizens but their names are Jewish so they are put with the Israelis.  Once the Israelis have been separated, the command is given that there is to be no more communication between the two different groups.  The Israelis are now marched into a different room altogether.  The door is closed behind them. 

An Israeli crew built the Ugandan airport and the Israeli military now has all the blueprints for the airport. 

Wednesday, June 30, 1976.  One of the women goes a bit crazy and tries to escape from the room she is in.  Two women finally grab her and bring her down.  A doctor comes in and gives the woman some kind of sedative that has already been abandoned in the more modernized countries. 

Idi Amin is dressed in what is known as a zoot suit.  He tells the Jewish people that he has saved 47 French men women and children.  He repeats that Israel must give in or the Jews will all be killed. 

Hershel and Edra Vilnofsky get in to see the prime minister as representatives of the relatives of the Israeli hostages.  The parents want to get their daughter back and they beg the prime minister to negotiate with the highjackers.  

Chana writes a letter to her parents in which she says she thinks she will get back to them and that they are wonderful parents.  She has Mrs. Wise read it for spell-checking.  Mrs. Wise says it's a marvelous letter. 

Thursday, July 1, 1976.  At the cabinet meeting everyone wants to negotiate with the terrorists. 

Idi Amin says that the non-Israelis will be allowed to leave.  And Israel has agreed to negotiate to save the lives of the Israelis.  He is such an obviously needy man that he wants plenty of approval from others for what he does.  The Israelis play along and clap at his news.  Now they have a new deadline.  It will be Sunday at noon.  The captain of the plane leads his whole crew over to the Jewish room in protest to the physical separation. 

The first group of hostages are released and Israeli intelligence is questioning them.  The intelligence so far is that the airport building has not been wired to blow up if under attack. 

Friday, July 2, 1976.  Mrs. Wise is choking on something, so she has to be taken over to the hospital. 

Peres comes to speak to Rabin.  Rabin tells him that negotiations were broken off half an hour ago.  So their only hope now is that they get approval for the military option.   

A Jewish woman asks for a candle for the Shabbat ceremony observed a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening.  She also gets a little wine for the ceremony from Yakov Shlomo.  She goes around saying to others:  "Shabbat-Shalom" and they repeat the words. 

Saturday, July 3, 1976.  At the cabinet meeting Peres tells the men that the airplanes are already on their way to the Ugandan airport.  They are shocked that this was done without cabinet authorization, but Peres says that the planes can be called back at almost any time in the seven hour journey to the airport.  Rabin says let the planes go all the way.  It's unanimous.  The military option is approved. 

Up in the air the men get the official approval of the military option.  They are going all the way.  The military will be out of contact with the politicians once the planes reach Ethiopian airspace. 

The planes should be landing fairly soon.  They are over Entebbe.  The terrorists are talking while drinking drinks at a table outside.  The soldiers are making their last minute preparations. The planes land.  Vehicles go out first and then the soldiers come pouring out. They follow behind a vehicle made to look like the one that Ida Ami travels around in.  The terrorists see the car coming and then all hell breaks loose.  The terrorists are mowed down.  The message goes out:  The hostages are secured!  The hostages are secured!  And they got the terrorists too.  Col. Yonni gets killed.  A few of the passengers are killed.  The hostages run to the airplane and get aboard.  They are told to sit down and hold onto something as they are taking off.  The captain of the flight comforts Chana over the loss of a young man she had grown very close to.   

There is big celebration among the cabinet ministers.  The former hostages sing a song while flying in the airplane. 

The dead included three hostages, seven terrorists, 20 Ugandan soldiers, 1 Israeli commando and one woman left behind in the hospital at Kampala, reported murdered by Ugandan security forces.

 

Pretty similar to the film Raid on Entebbe  (1977).  It's a straight telling of what happened during the plane hijacking and the rescue of the Jewish hostages.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

Rise and Fall of Idi Amin (1981) --  beginning 1975, the Uganda ruler kills a half-million of his nation's people

 

 

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