Rating: ** Threat: Solar flare
Metromedia. Written by Lewis Carlino & Sandor Stern; Photographed by Michael Margulies; Edited by John A. Martinelli; Music by Robert Prince; Produced by Gerald I. Isenberg & Charles Fries (executive); Directed by John Llewellyn Moxey. 73 minutes.
Peter Graves (Stephen Anders, manufacturer from Malibu); George O'Hanlon Jr. (David Anders, his son, a science major in college); Kathleen Quinlan (Deborah Anders, his daughter); Jay W. Macintosh (Barbara Anders, his wife, a scientist); Verna Bloom (Jenny, catatonic woman); Michael-James Wixted (Michael, young boy whose parents were shot); Nobel Willingham (Jim Clancy, Sierra Mountain guide); Doug Chapin (Tom Clancy, Jim's son); Dan Barrows (truck thief); Ken Samson (Jack McFadden, survivalist who settles his family at a ranch).
This unpretentious telefilm has a narrow focus, but it is a respectable and moderately entertaining production. It was first shown by NBC as the Thursday evening feature film on October 10, 1974. Working within a modest budget, Where Have All the People Gone nevertheless presented a credible and effective portrait of an apocalyptic event. The inconclusive ending suggests that it may have originally been intended as a pilot for a series, with Peter Graves as Stephen Anders leading his clan of survivors through new adventures each week. It is very doubtful if a series would have been successful, since the concept seems pretty well exhausted by the end of the picture.
The story opens with the Anders family on a two-week camping trip in the High Sierras with their guide Jim Clancy. Stephen's wife, Barbara, is a scientist and has to return home early. Their guide's son drives her to the local airport. Stephen and his children explore a cave where they are digging for fossils. David is a college student with an aptitude for science. His younger sister, Deborah, is somewhat bored with their vacation adventure and asks her dad if they could spend their next holiday at a resort hotel instead. At the campfire, Jim is preparing rabbit stew for dinner when the the glow from the sun starts to increase to a blinding intensity. The guide stares at the phenomenon, which is immediately followed by earth tremors. Anders and his children run out of the cave, and Jim tells them about the strange light in the sky. David turns on the transistor radio to try to learn more about the event, but all he picks up is static. As Jim lapses