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...AND MILLIONS WILL DIE! (1973)

TV-Movie aka ...And Millions Die!
Article 2889 by Dave Sindelar 
Viewing Date: 4-5-2009
Posting Date: 7-11-2009
Directed by Leslie H. Martinson
Featuring Richard Basehart, Susan Strasberg, Peter Sumner
Country: USA

A representative of a non-political organization intent on fighting disasters of all kinds discovers the existence of a deadly nerve gas created by a former Nazi scientist. He must locate all of the missing canisters of the nerve gas which are hidden somewhere in Hong Kong before the residents therein become victims to it.

This was another TV-Series pilot masquerading as a TV-Movie, and actually, I think the concept (about the organization that fights disasters) might have made for a moderately interesting series. If it had, though, I hope the episodes would have had better scripts and direction that this one does. The nerve gas is the Gizmo Maguffin here, and the canisters of the gas are in danger from being released by a time bomb that is set to go off in three and a half days from the time the movie starts. This is actually not a bad setup, but the movie makes very ill use of it; despite the fact that there's a definite deadline and the movie keeps cutting back to the time mechanism showing the countdown, there's no sense of urgency. Furthemore, none of the heroes know of the bomb or the deadline until about ten minutes before the end of the movie. There are other clumsy elements to the movie; having the scientist's daughter turn out to be a homicidal maniac might have worked had they established the clues early on; as it is, she remains a minor and forgettable character until late in the movie. These revelations smack of convenience more than good writing. The action sequences are also quite weak; there's a chase on foot sequence that is singularly lacking in suspense. It is fun seeing a pre-comedy Leslie Nielsen as a villain, and Richard Basehart is quite likeable, but the dialogue they're given is riddled with cliches. This is one TV-Movie that really fails to deliver the goods.

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