Victory at Entebbe

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Victory at Entebbe
Victory at Entebbe.jpg
  • Action
  • Drama
  • History
  • Thriller
Written byErnest Kinoy
Directed byMarvin J. Chomsky
Theme music composerCharles Fox
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producerDavid L. Wolper
Production locationsWarner Brothers Burbank Studios - 4000 Warner Boulevard, Burbank, California
CinematographyJim Kilgore
  • Michael Gavaldon
  • Jim McElroy
  • David Saxon
Running time119 min.
Production companyDavid L. Wolper Productions
Original networkABC
Picture formatColor
Audio formatMono
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 Helmut Berger, Linda Blair, 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] The film was theatrically released in Europe.

Victory at Entebbe is based on the actual event Operation Entebbe, the raid on Entebbe Airport (now Entebbe International Airport) in Uganda and the freeing of Israeli hostages on July 4, 1976. It was the first of three films made in the 1970s based on the Entebbe Raid. The other two, Raid on Entebbe (1977) and Operation Thunderbolt (1977) soon followed.[3] A fourth film, Entebbe (titled 7 Days in Entebbe in the U.S.) was released over four decades later in 2018.


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.


In alphabetical order:


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.


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 (Victory is generally considered the weaker of the two). The portrayal of the heroic Israeli military in Victory at Entebbe, however, led to radical pro-Palestinian terrorists 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]



  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.


  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.


  • 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]