Victory at Entebbe

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Victory at Entebbe
Victory at Entebbe.jpg
Genre
  • Action
  • Drama
  • History
  • Thriller
Written by Ernest Kinoy
Directed by Marvin J. Chomsky
Starring
Theme music composer Charles Fox
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Production
Executive producer(s) David L. Wolper
Producer(s)
Location(s) Warner Brothers Burbank Studios - 4000 Warner Boulevard, Burbank, California
Cinematography Jim Kilgore
Editor(s)
  • Michael Gavaldon
  • Jim McElroy
  • David Saxon
Running time 119 min.
Production company(s) David L. Wolper Productions
Distributor ABC Entertainment Group
Release
Original network ABC
Original release
  • December 13, 1976 (1976-12-13)

Victory at Entebbe is a 1976 American made-for-television action-drama film for broadcast on ABC, directed by Marvin J. Chomsky. The film starred Anthony Hopkins, Burt Lancaster, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Dreyfuss, and Kirk Douglas. Julius Harris portrayed Idi Amin, following the fatal heart attack suffered by the actor originally cast in the role, Godfrey Cambridge.[1] [Note 1]

Victory at Entebbe is based on an actual event Operation Entebbe the July 4, 1976 raid on Entebbe Airport (now Entebbe International Airport) in Uganda and the freeing of Israeli hostages. The first of three films based on the Entebbe Raid, Raid on Entebbe (1977) and Operation Thunderbolt (1977) soon followed.[3]

Plot[edit]

On June 27, 1976, four terrorists belonging to a splinter group of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine under the orders of Wadie Haddad boarded and hijacked an Air France Airbus A300 in Athens, Greece.

With the permission of President Idi Amin (Julius Harris), the terrorists divert the airliner and its hostages to Entebbe Airport in Uganda. [Note 2] After identifying Israeli passengers, the non-Jewish passengers are freed while a series of demands are made, including the release of 40 Palestinian militants held in Israel, in exchange for the hostages.

The Cabinet of Israel, led by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (Anthony Hopkins), unwilling to give in to terrorist demands, plans a top-secret military raid. This commando operation, military code name: "Operation Thunderbolt", will be carried out over 2,500 miles (4,000 km) from home and will take place on the Jewish Sabbath.

While still negotiating with the terrorists, who now numbered seven individuals, the Israeli military prepared two Lockheed C-130 Hercules transports for the raid. The transports refuelled in Kenya before landing at Entebbe Airport under the cover of darkness. The commandos led by Brigadier General Dan Shomron (Harris Yulin) had to contend with a large armed Ugandan military detachment and used a ruse to overcome the defenses. A black Mercedes limousine had been carried on board and was used to fool sentries that it was the official car which President Amin used on an impromptu visit to the airport.

Nearly complete surprise was achieved but a firefight resulted, ending with all seven terrorists and 45 Ugandan soldiers killed. The hostages were gathered together and most were quickly put on the idling C-130 aircraft. During the raid, one commando (the breach unit commander Yonatan Netanyahu (Richard Dreyfuss), brother of future Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu), and three of the hostages, died. [Note 3]

With 102 hostages aboard and on their way to freedom, a group of Israeli commandos remained behind to destroy the Ugandan Air Force MiG-17 and MiG-21 fighters to prevent a retaliation. All the survivors of the attack force then joined in flying back to Israel via Nairobi and Sharm El Sheikh.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Victory at Entebbe was filmed on videotape at Burbank Studios in California and later transferred to film for distribution around the world, giving the film the slightly stilted visual style of a studio-bound TV drama, but with a film-like look, and big Hollywood names in the cast. Shooting on video shortened the production time, allowing the film to be ready for television less than six months after the event that inspired it.

Linda Blair and Helmut Berger were dating each other during production.

Reception[edit]

Although both telefilms. Victory at Entebbe and Raid on Entebbe relied on their star-studded casts, neither were able to make much of an impact with audiences. The portrayal of the "heroic" Israeli military in the Victory at Entebbe, however, led to radical pro-Palestinian activists placing bombs in Germany and Italy, alleging that the film was Zionist propaganda.

Victory at Entebbe was recognized at the 29th Primetime Emmy Awards, where screenwriter Ernest Kinoy received an Emmy Award nomination for his 'teleplay.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ At one point, Joseph Olita was also approached to play Amin in Victory at Entebbe.[2]
  2. ^ The Entebbe airport is Uganda's main airport and is situated near the capital city of Kampala, Uganda.
  3. ^ A fourth hostage, Dora Bloch, who had been ill and had been taken to Mulago Hospital in Kampala, was murdered by the Ugandans on Idi Amin's orders.

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Buford 2008, p. 783.
  2. ^ "Obituary: Joseph Olita on playing Idi Amin." YouTube. Retrieved: March 10, 2017.
  3. ^ Barron 2016, p. 209.
  4. ^ "1977 Primetime Emmy Awards." IMDb. Retrieved: March 10, 2017.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Barron, Colin N. Planes on Film: Ten Favourite Aviation Films. Stirling, UK: Extremis Publishing, 2016. ISBN 978-0-9934-9326-3.
  • Buford, Kate. Burt Lancaster: An American Life. London: Aurum Press, 2008. ISBN 1-84513-385-4.
  • Shaw, Tony. Cinematic Terror: A Global History of Terrorism on Film. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014. ISBN 978-1-4411-9620-0.

External links[edit]