Rage (1972)


Introduction

Rage is a 1972 American thriller / mystery film starring George C. Scott, Richard Basehart, Martin Sheen and Barnard Hughes.

Scott also directed this drama about a sheep rancher who is fatally exposed to a military lab’s poison gas. The plot was inspired by a true event, the Dugway sheep incident in which a jet accidentally sprayed VX, a lethal nerve gas, in Utah’s Skull Valley resulting in the deaths of 3,000-6,000 sheep. Nicolas Beauvy is featured as the rancher’s son in a cast that also includes Paul Stevens and Stephen Young.

Outline

While on a camping trip, Wyoming sheep rancher Dan Logan (Scott) and his son are inadvertently exposed to a secret Army nerve gas from a helicopter passing overhead. Both end up in a hospital where the military, with the help of a military doctor (Sheen) conspire to keep them apart, limit their contact to outsiders, and lie to them about their condition. The military looks at the incident as little more than an opportunity to study the effectiveness of a nerve gas on humans.

Logan tries to hold someone accountable for their actions, but he and his family physician (Basehart) are stone-walled from every angle by military authorities and by bureaucrats staging a cover-up – with those responsible already well insulated by their positions of power. He is hospitalised and put under observation by the government for symptoms related to exposure to nerve agents, and to record his physiological responses to the toxins.

Becoming increasingly anxious over his son, Logan leaves his room to search the hospital. His investigation leads him to the morgue, where he is traumatised to find his son dead. Initially stunned and shocked at the sight of his son’s mutilated body, he becomes enraged.

Having determined the company that has manufactured the nerve agent which has killed his son, he destroys it. At this point he begins exhibiting obvious symptoms of the nerve agent, and heads toward the military base from which the nerve agent was dispersed. He breaches the base’s security fence, but is obviously allowed to do so. Logan stops the truck and stumbles out, falling to the ground as helicopters circle above. Soon he is surrounded by army troops while he lies twitching and convulsing in the final stages of nerve agent poisoning. Major Holliford approaches the body and requests a syringe, seemingly to draw blood from Logan’s dead body. The film concludes with Logan’s body transported to a lab for study by the military.

Cast

  • George C. Scott as Dan Logan.
  • Richard Basehart as Dr. Caldwell.
  • Martin Sheen as Major Holliford.
  • Barnard Hughes as Dr. Spencer.
  • Ed Lauter as Simpson.

Trivia

  • The story was inspired by and incident at the Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah on 13 March 1968.
    • The US Army conducted tests of a nerve agent chemical weapon, later revealed to be VX nerve gas, including spraying it from a jet aircraft.
    • Between 3,000 and 6,000 sheep were reportedly killed.
    • The Army did not admit fault for the incident until 1998.
  • George C. Scott appeared in other films with actors from this film.
    • Paul Stevens played Colonel Codman in Patton (1970).
      • Robert Walden appeared with Scott in The Hospital (1971) as did Barnard Hughes and Marin Sheen.
  • All the Army officers wear a shoulder patch bearing an orange mushroom cloud.
    • Such a patch was never used by the Army.
  • For the lab building explosion sequence, a 5,000 square-foot structure was constructed on a hilltop thirty-two miles from Tucson.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • George C. Scott.
  • Producer(s):
    • Philip Friedman … associate producer.
    • Leon Fromkess … executive producer.
    • J. Ronald Getty … executive producer.
    • Dan Kleinman … associate producer.
    • Fred Weintraub … producer.
  • Writer(s):
    • Philip Friedman.
    • Dan Kleinman.
  • Music:
    • Lalo Schifrin.
  • Cinematography:
    • Fred J. Koenekamp … director of photography (as Fred Koeenekamp).
  • Editor(s):
    • Michael Kahn.
  • Production:
    • Getty & Fromkess Corporation.
    • Warner Bros.
  • Distributor:
    • Warner Bros. (1972) (USA) (theatrical).
    • Columbia-Warner Distributors (1972) (UK) (theatrical).
    • Warner Bros. (1972) (Norway) (theatrical).
    • Warner-Columbia Film (1972) (Sweden) (theatrical).
    • Th. Damaskinos & V. Michaelides (1973) (Greece) (theatrical).
    • Warner-Columbia Filmverleih (1973) (West Germany) (theatrical).
    • Warner-Columbia (1973) (Belgium) (theatrical).
    • Warner Bros. (1973) (Japan) (theatrical).
    • American Broadcasting Company (ABC) (1974) (USA) (TV) (original airing).
    • Warner Home Video (1986) (USA) (VHS).
    • Audio Visual Enterprises (1989) (Greece) (VHS).
    • Warner Home Video (Netherlands) (VHS).
    • Warner Home Video (Germany) (VHS).
    • Warner Home Video (2009) (USA) (DVD).
    • 375 Media (2019) (Germany) (DVD).
    • Great Movies (2019) (Germany) (DVD).
    • Indigo (2019) (Germany) (DVD).
  • Release Date: 22 November 1972 (New York, US).
  • Rating: AA.
  • Running Time: 100 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Video Link(s)

Currently unavailable.

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