Groundstar Conspiracy, The

Tagged: Film

Film (1972; vt The Alien). Hal Roach Studios/Universal Pictures. Produced by Hal Roach Jr and Trevor Wallace. Directed by Lamont Johnson. Screenplay by Douglas Heyes (credited as Michael Howard), loosely based on The Alien (1968; vt The Groundstar Conspiracy 1972) by L P Davies (credited as Leslie P Davies). Cast includes Christine Belford, George Peppard and Michael Sarrazin. 103 minutes. Colour.

John David Welles (Sarrazin) attempts to steal Rocket booster secrets from the Groundstar Space Flight research facility; the scheme goes badly wrong, leading to explosions which disfigure and nearly kill Welles. Escaping, he makes his way to the home of Nicole Devon (Belford) and there collapses. She calls an ambulance: Welles is taken to a hospital, operated upon and given a new face through plastic surgery. Interrogated by the implacable government agent Tuxan (Peppard), Welles now insists despite such Tortures as electroshock and waterboarding that he has no memory of the theft or even of who he is (see Amnesia). Tuxan allows Welles to escape in hope that being led to the conspirators behind the attempted theft. But Welles merely returns to Devon's home and begs her to help him remember; she is unable to do so. Eventually, however, the plotters are captured and Tuxan reveals that the original Welles actually died en route to the hospital. The new "Welles" is in reality government employee Peter Bellamy, who had recently lost his wife and son (glimpsed in fragmentary memories) in an accident and in despair volunteered to undergo a complete Memory Edit and assume this role as a ploy to lure the conspirators into exposing themselves.

Little of the Davis novel remains in the script; the result more closely resembles Algis Budrys's Who? (April 1955 Fantastic Universe; exp 1958), itself filmed as Who? (1974). Filmed in Canada and intended originally as the pilot for a never-made Television series, The Groundstar Conspiracy was perhaps wisely released to theatres instead. Screenwriter Douglas Heyes is better remembered for scripting such television series as The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) and Rod Serling's Night Gallery (1971-1974). [GSt/DRL]

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