Fate Is the Hunter based upon the Ernest K. Gann book, is a realistically-produced picture, sparked by good acting right down the line. Its greatest asset is a stirring climax which brings the story line to a satisfactory conclusion, but the buildup, while meeting expository requirements, frequently plods due to lack of significant line and situations.
The production deals with the cause of a spectacular plane crash in which 53 people are killed. As the various elements are considered, then discarded, the investigation finally centers on the dead pilot, reported to have been drinking a few hours before the tragedy. With the Civil Aeronautics Board and the FBI already on the case, the airline’s director of flight operations and old friend of the pilot pursues his own line of inquiry.
Glenn Ford as the operations director who was a war flyer with the dead pilot (Rod Taylor) underplays his character for good effect. Part isn’t as outgoing as Ford generally undertakes, but is dramatically forceful. Taylor’s role is more flamboyant and colorful, most of it in flashback sequences as the Harold Medford screenplay limns the character of the man and what made him tick.
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Ralph Nelson’s taut direction gets the most out of his script, the crash emerging as a thrilling experience and with suspense mounting in Ford’s reenactment of the fatality. Under his helming, too, Nancy Kwan, as Taylor’s fiancee, and Suzanne Pleshette, the stewardess, register nicely, and Jane Russell makes an appearance as herself playing a World War II army camp.
1964: Nomination: Best B&W Cinematography