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HISTORY

       A news item in the 11 Apr 1974 HR announced that executive producer Sandy Howard’s second independent feature, Skyriders, was currently being scripted by Jack DeWitt and scheduled for a 1975 release through Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation. The 18 Apr 1975 HR reported that the film, renamed Hostages, would begin principal photography in Greece during Jun 1975 with Terry Morse, Jr., producing. News items in the 21 May 1975 DV and HR specified a 9 Jun 1975 start date in Athens, Greece, under the film’s new title, Sky Riders.
       According to the 5 Jul 1975 DV, the staged explosion of a truck on the set killed a Greek electrician and injured twelve other crewmembers. Flames from the explosion, which were expected to shoot fifty feet into the air, shot as high as 150 feet, accounting for the injuries. British stunt coordinator Dick Albans was arrested for the oversight and posted bail, following his dismissal from the production. An article in the 20 Aug 1975 Var identified the deceased electrician as Spyros Anastassiou. Upon hearing of Anastassiou’s death, Albans returned to England, accompanied by Terry Morse, Jr. When the other injured crewmembers were fired without pay, the Union of Greek Motion Picture Technicians (ETEKT), with the support of other unions, obtained a provisionary seizure of all Twentieth Century-Fox property within Greek jurisdiction. The company asked that the court release the property, with the guarantee that all of the accident victims’ claims “will be duly satisfied,” but the request was denied. At the ... More Less

       A news item in the 11 Apr 1974 HR announced that executive producer Sandy Howard’s second independent feature, Skyriders, was currently being scripted by Jack DeWitt and scheduled for a 1975 release through Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation. The 18 Apr 1975 HR reported that the film, renamed Hostages, would begin principal photography in Greece during Jun 1975 with Terry Morse, Jr., producing. News items in the 21 May 1975 DV and HR specified a 9 Jun 1975 start date in Athens, Greece, under the film’s new title, Sky Riders.
       According to the 5 Jul 1975 DV, the staged explosion of a truck on the set killed a Greek electrician and injured twelve other crewmembers. Flames from the explosion, which were expected to shoot fifty feet into the air, shot as high as 150 feet, accounting for the injuries. British stunt coordinator Dick Albans was arrested for the oversight and posted bail, following his dismissal from the production. An article in the 20 Aug 1975 Var identified the deceased electrician as Spyros Anastassiou. Upon hearing of Anastassiou’s death, Albans returned to England, accompanied by Terry Morse, Jr. When the other injured crewmembers were fired without pay, the Union of Greek Motion Picture Technicians (ETEKT), with the support of other unions, obtained a provisionary seizure of all Twentieth Century-Fox property within Greek jurisdiction. The company asked that the court release the property, with the guarantee that all of the accident victims’ claims “will be duly satisfied,” but the request was denied. At the time of the article, Anastassiou’s widow was suing the company for $100,000. Howard held a press conference, and blamed the unpaid wages issue on a Greek employee, but he assured the press that the relevant insurance companies were negotiating with Twentieth Century-Fox to reach a satisfactory settlement. Howard estimated the hospitalization costs of the accident at $30,000, and paid indemnities of $1,000 each to five crewmembers. He also stated that at $350,000, the cost of filming in Greece, was half of what it might have been in the U.S., and was planning to produce two more films there. A news item in the 27 Sep 1975 DV reported that Howard was returning to Greece to voluntarily face a charge of manslaughter.
       Sky Riders received mostly lukewarm reviews. While the 10 May 1976 Time described the plot as something “any reasonably bright nine-year-old could have managed,” the 23 Apr 1976 LAHExam declared the hang-gliding sequences were “as irresistible as a two-headed baby in a sideshow.”
      The end credits conclude with the acknowledgement, "The producers express gratitude to the various government ministries and the armed forces of Greece without whose assistance this film could not have been made."
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
5 May 1975.
---
Box Office
24 May 1976.
---
Daily Variety
21 May 1975.
---
Daily Variety
5 Jul 1975.
---
Daily Variety
27 Sep 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Apr 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Apr 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 May 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 May 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Mar 1976
p. 3, 21.
LAHExam
23 Apr 1976.
---
Los Angeles Times
21 Apr 1976
Part IV, p. 10.
New York Times
27 Mar 1976
p. 18.
Time
10 May 1976.
---
Variety
20 Aug 1975.
---
Variety
24 Mar 1976
p. 21.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Sandy Howard Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Aerial action dir by
Aerial action dir by
Asst dir
Asst dir
2d asst dir
Greek crew, prod mgr
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
Aerial unit, Cam asst
Aerial unit, Cam grip
Cam op
Focus puller
Focus puller
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Supv film ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dresser
Propman
Propmen
Greek crew, Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
SOUND
Greek crew, Sd mixer
Greek crew, Boom op
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Greek crew, Asst spec eff
Titles and opt eff
MAKEUP
Hairdresser
Make-up
PRODUCTION MISC
Hang glider pilots, Aerial consultant & lead pilot
Hang glider pilots, Head stunt pilot
Pilot
Pilot
Pilot
Pilot
Pilot
Pilot
Aerial unit, Helicopter pilot
Aerial unit, Helicopter pilot
Aerial unit, Hang glider equip
Prod supv
Casting
Script girl
Greek crew, Loc mgr
Greek crew, Prod asst
Loc by
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Hostages
Skyriders
Release Date:
1976
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 26 March 1976
Los Angeles opening: 21 April 1976
Production Date:
Began 9 June 1975.
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
19 March 1976
Copyright Number:
LP45755
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
Color by Deluxe®
Widescreen/ratio
Todd-AO 35mm
Duration(in mins):
96
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
Greece, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

American industrialist Jonas Bracken leaves his villa in Athens, Greece, for a business meeting aboard his yacht. Seconds later, two carloads of terrorists wearing hockey masks enter the villa. After killing all of the servants and leaving a radio transmitter in the house, the terrorists take Bracken’s wife, Ellen, son, Jimmy, and daughter, Susie, hostage. Inspector Nikolidis of the Athens Police Department meets Jonas at the dock and explains the situation. Upon returning to his home, Jonas reads a note created from newspaper lettering: “Wait to hear and hear clearly…the rich will share or the rich will die.” The inspector’s nephew, Dimitri, activates the radio transmitter and connects it to a tape recorder, which he guarantees will be manned at all times. The next day, smuggler Jim McCabe lands his seaplane near the boat of his business associate, Carl Auerbach. Carl shows Jim a newspaper with a photograph of the kidnap victims on the front page, which includes his former wife, Ellen, and son, Jimmy. At the terrorists’ hideout, the Number One terrorist photographs the hostages, while explaining that they are prisoners of the World Activist Revolutionary Army, committed to liberating the oppressed peoples of the world. The female terrorist who stands guard over the hostages removes Ellen’s gold necklace and earrings. Meanwhile, Jim visits the Bracken villa, where he hears a recording of Ellen relaying the kidnappers’ demand for $5 million in forty-eight hours, or the hostages will die. Nikolidis describes the kidnappers as a highly organized group of murderers dedicated to creating chaos, but he assures Jonas that the police will track them down before the ... +


American industrialist Jonas Bracken leaves his villa in Athens, Greece, for a business meeting aboard his yacht. Seconds later, two carloads of terrorists wearing hockey masks enter the villa. After killing all of the servants and leaving a radio transmitter in the house, the terrorists take Bracken’s wife, Ellen, son, Jimmy, and daughter, Susie, hostage. Inspector Nikolidis of the Athens Police Department meets Jonas at the dock and explains the situation. Upon returning to his home, Jonas reads a note created from newspaper lettering: “Wait to hear and hear clearly…the rich will share or the rich will die.” The inspector’s nephew, Dimitri, activates the radio transmitter and connects it to a tape recorder, which he guarantees will be manned at all times. The next day, smuggler Jim McCabe lands his seaplane near the boat of his business associate, Carl Auerbach. Carl shows Jim a newspaper with a photograph of the kidnap victims on the front page, which includes his former wife, Ellen, and son, Jimmy. At the terrorists’ hideout, the Number One terrorist photographs the hostages, while explaining that they are prisoners of the World Activist Revolutionary Army, committed to liberating the oppressed peoples of the world. The female terrorist who stands guard over the hostages removes Ellen’s gold necklace and earrings. Meanwhile, Jim visits the Bracken villa, where he hears a recording of Ellen relaying the kidnappers’ demand for $5 million in forty-eight hours, or the hostages will die. Nikolidis describes the kidnappers as a highly organized group of murderers dedicated to creating chaos, but he assures Jonas that the police will track them down before the ransom is due. Jonas is unwilling to take the risk and raises the money by liquidating stocks and other assets. He also asks Jim to “stick around.” At the hideout, Ellen begs the female terrorist to provide blankets and adequate food for the children. The woman’s indifference angers Ellen and an altercation erupts between the two, until the Number One terrorist intervenes. After demanding that Ellen send another message, he tells her the story of how he transitioned from pacifism to terrorism. He points to the scar across his right eye, caused by a French policeman, as his motivation. Ellen applauds facetiously. Later, Jonas is notified by radio that the ransom money has only postponed the execution, and the terrorists give him a week to supply them with an arsenal of military-grade weapons. Jonas follows the inspector’s instructions to keep the caller engaged in conversation, so that Dimitri and his crew can locate the transmitter. Dimitri finds the transmitter and leads a convoy of police cars to a small van parked near a power station. He orders the supposed occupants of the van to surrender but gets no response. Nikolidis arrives too late as Dimitri enters the van to find only a tape recorder and a bomb. The subsequent explosion kills Dimitri and leaves sixteen other policemen either dead or maimed. The inspector is devastated by the loss of his nephew and is even more determined to stop the terrorists. The next day, Jonas receives a roll of exposed film from the kidnappers with a note that reads: “To encourage you.” When he and Jim develop it in the darkroom, they notice artwork on the wall behind Ellen and the children. Jim takes a print to Wasserman, an art expert, who determines that the work is by a sixteenth-century artist named Theophanus, and is one of several frescos in an abandoned mountaintop monastery in Meteora, Thessaly. It is protected by large columns of rock, and because it is accessible by only one road, there is no way to enter without detection. Jim travels to the monastery and sees the hopelessness of the situation, until he notices several large birds soaring over the mountaintop. Following a beachfront performance by the Hang Glider Air Circus, a troupe of Americans buskers, Jim offers the leader, Ben, $200 for hang gliding lessons. Meanwhile, at the villa, Nikolidis learns of the photographs and arrests Jonas for withholding evidence. Upon completion of his hang-gliding lessons, Jim offers to employ the troupe in the rescue of Ellen and her children. After some discussion, Ben and his wife, Della, along with buskers Joe, Cora, Martin and Rudy, vote unanimously to accept the offer. In Athens, Nikolidis invites Jonas to join the next day’s attack on the monastery, while Jim and the circus members map out their plans in the hills of Meteora. They decide to make their entry from a hill above the monastery in the early morning hours, with the full moon providing visibility. That night, the troupe sets up its base camp, and as dawn approaches, Jim makes his descent, followed by Ben, Della, Martin, Cora and Rudy, all of whom are equipped with firearms. Jim, Ben and Martin encounter little resistance upon entering the monastery, and they quickly locate the hostages. After Jim knocks the female terrorist unconscious, the children leave with Ben and Martin. As Jim leads Ellen to freedom, a terrorist sees them through a window and awakens his comrades. The ensuing gun battle escalates with the arrival of the police and the military. The rescuers reach their base camp and man their gliders, but Jim stays behind to fend off the terrorists. Some of the gliders draw gunfire when a shift in wind direction takes them over the monastery, leaving Joe and Martin with gunshot wounds. The Number One terrorist boards a helicopter with the intention of shooting the rescuers out of the sky, but Jim grabs onto one of the skids and fires several shots into the transmission. As the helicopter makes a slow descent, Jim lets go of the skid and falls to the ground, rendering him unable to walk. Once on the ground, the Number One terrorist fires at Jim. When Jim informs him that “it’s all over,” the terrorist kills himself. Nikolidis and Jonas arrive, followed by the rest of the Bracken family. Ellen wants Jim to get to know his son, but Jim is reluctant to complicate the boy’s life with a second father. As Jim is loaded onto a stretcher, Nikolidis hands him a bottle of wine and assures him that none of the troupe is seriously injured. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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