Tales of Tomorrow – Flight Overdue (03/28/52)

ttflightoverdue03When a jet plane disappeared in thin air, what was the explanation?

An announcer tells us this is the story of a great aviatrix [1], Paula Martin.  So imagine my surprise when she disappears, and the headline reads “Paula Bennett Lost at Sea.” IMDb plays it safe just calling the character Paula. [2]

Paula’s husband Donald is working the short wave trying to find his wife.  He believes some mysterious indecipherable transmissions might hold a clue.  We are told he never gave up searching for his wife. Presumably he did take off a couple of days to marry his 2nd wife Deidre.

Donald gets a call from an old friend, Sam Rutgers who says he will be over in 15 minutes.  Deidre makes good use of this time by nagging him over his obsession with discovering what happened to Paula.

ttflightoverdue05Donald flashes back to when he and Paula were first married.  Paula is posing for photographers after winning her second Bendix Trophy. Donald suggests that now that she has won her 2nd trophy, she can “stop proving things” she can marry him and iron his shirts.

She counters that she still has a lot of unfinished business up there. She could never be happy if she gave up flying.  They married and she continued flying.  Then she began disappearing for weeks at a time, apparently filming stock footage.  She was also frequently in the company of a mysterious man.

Donald is just as jealous as his future wife, although not over a corpse.  He suspects the man might have a wiley post and confronts Paula about her disappearances.  She says she has “never allowed anyone to lock me in a hangar and she’s not going to start now.” Nobody puts Baby in the Cessna!  On a trip across the Pacific, she disappears.

ttflightoverdue07Back in the present, Rutgers shows up to talk to Donald and Diedre.  He also asks their maid Anna to stay because “she was closer to Paula than anyone,” which suggests that their marriage was a plane-wreck even before she took off.

Rutgers says he was just given the go-ahead today to explain what happened to Paula. The government recruited Paula, as the country’s leading woman flyer.  She went to an obscure island 2,300 miles out of San Francisco which housed a rocket base.  The government wants her to be part of the crew to test the stresses of space on a woman’s body.

Rutgers tells her it will be extremely dangerous, and she replies, “That wonderful new world, from millions of miles away, pulls at me across all that space as if it had me by the hands.”  As the rocket is only going to the moon, which is just 240,000 miles away, the millions of miles make no sense.

He continues telling Donald, Deidre and Anna how they watched the rocket take off perfectly through giant telescopes, going into outer space until it became a tiny speck. Sadly, the government has determined that Paula died when the ship crashed into the moon.  But it wasn’t her fault, she blew the horn.

Don, who has spent 4 years searching for clues to Paula’s fate, announces that she is glad she’s gone because he’s finally free.

Kind of a disappointing outing.  There really wasn’t much science-fiction in this episode. We get talk of a rocket only at the very end; the rest is mostly melodrama.  It was not helped by the casting.  Donald’s current wife is, frankly, a little scary.  Paula was also no beauty, but at least had a cool butch haircut and was believable in her part (i.e. a woman some man would actually have married).

Post-Post:

  • [1] Possibly the greatest word in the English language.
  • [2] The name-change is somewhat plausible as her husband’s last name is Bennett. So maybe she kept her maiden name as her professional moniker [3].  Still, why would the newspaper use her non-professional name?  Just sloppy.  Also, was she lost at sea or in thin air?
  • [3] Possibly the 2nd greatest word in the English language.
  • I had heard Veronica Lake’s name before and thought she was a glamorous babe from the 1940’s.  But no.  Well, she was from the 1940’s.
  • At one point, the actor portraying Donald accidentally calls his maid Anna by his first wife’s name.  That’s kind of amusing, but it also makes you appreciate that they were doing this live and didn’t have their eyes tharned on cue cards like most of the cast of SNL.
  • In the next scene, Paula calls the maid Emma — OK, maybe an occasional glance at a cue card would be OK; or showing up sober to rehearsal.
  • I’m not entirely sure, but it also sounded like Rutgers called Anna Hannah.
  • Anna, Hannah bo Banna Bonana fanna fo Paula Fee fy mo Memma Emma!

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