A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema

By Charles P. Mitchell | Go to book overview

No Survivors Please (1964)

AKA Der Chef Wünscht Keine Zeugen (The Chief Wants No Survivors)

Rating: *** Threat: Nuclear war caused by aliens

Shorcht. Written by Peter Berneis; Photographed by Henry Hubert; Edited by Claus Von Boro; Music by Herman Thieme; Produced & directed by John Albin & Peter Berneis. B & W, 88 minutes.


ANNOTATED CAST LIST

Robert Cunningham (Fawnsworth, renowned American ambassador); Maria Persehy (Ginny Desmond, his secretary); Uwe Friedrichsen (Howard Moore, Parisian newspaper reporter); Wolfgang Zilzer (alien chief); Gustavo Rojo (Armand, agent for the chief); Karen Blanguernon (Vera, alien impostor); Stefan Schnabel (General Ruskovski, Soviet official); Rolf Wanka (Dr. Hans Walter, rocket scientist); Armin Dahlen, John Elwenspoek, Ralph von Nauckhoff, Ralph Illig, Ted Turner.


SYNOPSIS

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the German film industry produced a number of oddball features in both German-language and English-language versions. Many of these were based on mysteries by Edgar Wallace, and others were either horror or science fiction. No Survivors Please is an excellent example of the latter. Most of the principals speak English, and those with noticeable accents are dubbed, sometimes with inappropriate voices for their characters. These films have a unique style combining elaborate camera angles and imaginative settings but with storylines that are sometimes ponderous.

The picture opens in New York City where an airline pilot is ordered by a mysterious chief to crash his plane over the Yucatan peninsula while transporting Ambassador Fawnsworth on his mission to Costa Rico. The chief insists, “No survivors please!” Ginny Desmond, Fawnsworth's secretary, sees her boss off on his chartered flight. During the flight, the pilot goes back to talk with the ambassador, calmly reassuring him as a fire breaks out and the plane spirals down to crash in the jungle. Fawnsworth's body is revived shortly after by an alien posing as the wife of an explorer. She welcomes the new alien who now inhabits Fawnsworth's body and briefs him on how to pass as a human being.

In Washington, D.C., the chief meets with the alien posing as Senator Taylor, and they select rocket scientist Hans Walter as the next candidate for replacement. The scientist decides to take an ocean cruise, but he disappears while walking the deck at night. Later the news circulates that Dr. Walter has been miraculously

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