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  Thief in the Night, A There's Someone He's Forgotten
Year: 1972
Director: Donald W. Thompson
Stars: Patty Dunning, Mike Niday, Colleen Niday, Maryann Rachford, Thom Rachford, Duane Coller, Russell S. Doughten Jr, Clarence Balmer
Genre: Drama, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  2 (from 1 vote)
Review: Patty (Patty Dunning) awakens one morning to hear some disturbing news on the radio: the Rapture has occurred, and she has been left behind! She always thought she was a good Christian, but she did not believe in this event actually coming to pass, and as she listens aghast to the report which says millions of people have simply disappeared across the globe, she wonders what to do next. Her first thought is for her husband Jim (Mike Niday), but when she rushes into the bathroom she finds his electric razor buzzing away - and Jim gone!

Donald W. Thompson was a filmmaker whose fundamentalist Christian tenets informed all of his work as he attempted to prepare his audiences for the End Times where people just like him would be whisked away to heaven and all the sinners and non-Christians (who according to this are pretty much the same thing) would be at the mercy of Satan and his one world government. These efforts were not often shown in cinemas, and had their greatest exposure in churches and religious meetings at community halls, where they would often be played to Sunday Schools.

The point being to scare the kiddies into a devout way of life rather than bother with all that boring peace and love stuff that Christianity was supposed to stand for. The overriding message to the rest of the non-fundie world was essentially, screw you, I'm all right Jack, and his quartet of films featuring the Patty character looked less like an expression of piety and more a thumbing of the nose at all those Thompson and his fellows considered beneath them. In this, Patty even thought she was a good Christian, except she finds out she wasn't Jesus-y enough.

The bulk of the movie was taken up with a flashback where she occasionally made watery statements about how she read her Bible and went to church on Sunday, thinking that was enough, but didn't really accept that there was going to be a Rapture at all. That would be her big mistake, as she happened to put her faith in the teachings of a liberal minister, when she should have been sticking by the preachers - real life ones who funded this - who appear and give us their sermons, sounding like the kind of paranoid rantings you get on the darker environs of the internet, except that these men are meant to be leaders of their communities.

Paranoia loomed large through much of this, not least in the second half where Patty has to negotiate a world where God has forsaken those who did not pray enough. Actually, aside from being very very frightened of what God will do to you - here he's almost as big a bogeyman as his Satanic counterpart, only his sinister tactics are for your own good - Thompson was vague on what precisely Patty did wrong. She has a friend, Jenny (Colleen Niday) who falls for the fundie stuff hook line and sinker, and she gets taken up, but the perfectly pleasant Patty ends up a fugitive from the United Nations who are giving people the dreaded Mark of the Beast for reasons also unclear apart from sounding Biblical. That the production is amateurish at best, no matter how much time was spent hiring helicopters, was less offensive than the bullying tactics employed, a mood of threat and sanctimonious "I told you so" about something by no means certain, an "if you're not with us you're against us" attitude that sounds as far from Christ's teachings of tolerance as it's possible to get.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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