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Professional assassin Cameron Mitchell and his cronies invade the home of a flight controller and take his family hostage as they plot the murder of a Middle Eastern premier.
When the interpreter for a Middle Eastern country, Ram Singh, is shot by assassins in Washington D.C., before dying he warns a police officer that assassins are also trying to kill the ex-premier, Gourem-Nara, who has taken refuge in the U.S. Alerted to the danger, special agent Ben Scanlon meets early in the morning with agent Ray Maguire and Los Angeles Police Department inspector Tom Barrett to make plans to protect the premier, who is departing on a 4:40 flight from Los Angeles to return to his homeland, where he hopes to quell a rebel insurgency. The American government, which supports the premier's cause, has guaranteed his safety while within its borders. Meanwhile, Singh's murderers, Marty Brill and Dave Harris, arrive in Los Angeles and go over plans with rebel agent Ipara, who has hired them to kill Singh and the premier. Back at the department offices, Maguire, Scanlon and Barrett learn that the bullets used to murder Singh match those used in a racketeer murder case, of which Brill was the prime suspect. Subsequently, they order a search for Brill and arrange for the Los Angeles police to cover the premier's route to the airport. Meanwhile, Brill and Davis drive to the Parker family house, which lies adjacent to the airport runway. Having planned to shoot the plane from inside the house that afternoon, Brill and Davis hold tower controller Hal Parker and his wife, June, at gunpoint without explanation. Brill, who has followed the Parkers' lives closely to ensure that his plan succeeds, is not surprised when June's sister, Betty, and her boyfriend, Herbie Morely, arrive at the house at lunchtime. However, when Herbie attacks him, Brill briskly knocks the young man out. As part of their plan, Davis tunes in a radio device to the airport tower communications. After the ruthless Brill brags about his reputation as a hired gun, Hal angrily retorts that Brill will hurt America with the murder. Bitter about growing up poor in the United States, Brill, a veteran, tells him that he has had only trouble in the U.S., from social workers, police and psychiatrists, and plans to leave the country with the money from the job. Back at the department offices, Maguire and Scanlon learn that Brill is driving a 1959 blue-gray Edsel and get his license plate numbers. Deducing that Brill will not know the premier's route to the airport, they concentrate their efforts on searching for the car in a one-mile area around the airport. When Davis takes the Edsel to pick up Ipara at a nearby dock, two policemen spot them and a chase ensues. Davis loses them, but realizing the police are searching for them, follows Brill's orders to park the car in the garage when he returns to the house. Inside, Brill hits Hal for his insubordination and then boasts about his plan: Hal will go to his regular four o'clock shift at the control tower and, using a special code, announce over the radio which plane is carrying the premier. Brill will then shoot from the window, hitting the plane's gas tank with a special bullet that will cause an immediate explosion, killing the premier and everyone onboard. Following leads from witnesses of the speeding Edsel, Maguire and an officer drive around the sparsely populated area where the Parkers reside and knock on the Parkers' door. As they begin to question June, Brill shoots the men. The officer dies and Maguire, severely wounded, is taken to a bedroom, where June nurses him. At 3:45, Brill orders Hal to leave for his shift, threatening to kill his family if he does not follow the plan. As June cries in her husband's arms, Hal laments that he has had to decide once before who would die and who would not. After Hal leaves, June contemptuously explains to Brill that Hal was once a pilot and had to decide one day between the lives of his passengers in a large plane and those of a small plane left stranded on the runway. Knowing he could not pull up out of his landing for fear of stalling his engines and crashing, Hal decided that the passengers in the small plane must be sacrificed and, after crashing into the small plane, never flew again. June now wonders whose life Hal will choose to save: hers or the premier's. Just after four o'clock, Maguire regains consciousness and tells Betty to get his riot gun out of the patrol car, now hidden in the garage. As June diverts their captor's attention, Betty escapes out a window to the garage. In the control room, Hal is torn between his duty to his family and his country. He uses the code to identify the plane as it heads for the runway, but decides to pass a note to his superior telling him that the killers are in his house, where his wife is being held hostage. After Hal gestures for his boss to remain silent so as to not alert Brill, who is listening in, his superior rushes out of the tower to alert the police outside. Davis, who has been watching the tower from his car, sees the note being passed to the police and rushes back to the house to warn Brill. Furious that he has been double-crossed, Brill goes to the bedroom to kill June, but Maguire fires his riot gun. The police suddenly arrive and start shooting at Davis and Ipara, who are covering from inside. Brill tries to take aim at the plane, but Herb jumps him just as the police knock down the door and then kill Brill. After the premier's departure and June's reassuring call, a grateful Hal suggests to his wife that they go to church together on Sunday.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||not available|
|Release Date:||1960||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Distributions Co:||United Artists Corp.|
|Sound:||Production Co:||Premium Pictures, Inc.|
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