LAST PLANE OUT (1983)
Theme from Last Plane Out by Dennis McCarthy. Somewhat out-of-place and flute heavy. I think he was trying to capture some type of tropical vibe because the movie takes place in Nicaragua. As an added bonus you can hear how well the Betamax tape is aging.
Interesting Dated References: A male changing his outfit five times on a first date; Playing soccer on a first date; American people being interested in Nicaragua and other topics fans of Rage Against The Machine care about.
Best Line: None.
Social Context: Last Plane Out is inspired by the overthrowing of the Somoza regime by Sandinista rebels in Nicaragua in 1979. Unfortunately, at the same time there was a much better and much higher budgeted movie about the same subject, which was Under Fire, starring Nick Nolte and Gene Hackman. At the time, America was largely anti-Somoza, mainly because of the killing of Bill Stewart, which inspired Under Fire. Last Plane Out, on the other hand, took the unpopular stance of showing Somoza in a sympathetic light. Written by Jack Cox, a showboating Texas politician/journalist and self-proclaimed expert on “Latin American affairs,” the movie seems to be nothing more than a bloated ego piece. The main character in the movie shares his name. He also happens to be an expert on “Latin American affairs” and is adored by Somoza.
Enough about that, though. We’re here to look at Jan-Michael Vincent, not talk politics.
Summary: Our reporter-hero Jack Cox (a dapper looking Vincent) arrives in Nicaragua. He’s immediately taken to a fancy ball by his good friend Somoza, where he meets “The Most Beautiful Woman in Nicaragua.”
Then next morning he goes jogging with Somoza, who proceeds to tell him that he’s losing control against the violent insurgents being financed by Castro. Again, we’re not here to talk politics, so we won’t get into all the details. You should be focusing on Jan-Michael with his shirt off.
The next day he goes on a date with “The Most Beautiful Woman in Nicaragua,” during which he changes his outfit five times. The outfits are as follows: Morning suit coat and slacks; athletic soccer outfit; swim trunks; cocktail sport coat and slacks; naked (for sex); and finally: the morning-after fuchsia polo and Texas belt buckle combo.
“The Most Beautiful Woman in Nicaragua” then takes him to interview the Sandinistas for his news report. They give him the cold shoulder so Jan-Michael decides to go home to Texas. While there, aforementioned overthrow begins in Nicaragua, so he flies back with another reporter and an unbiased diplomat.
When he gets there, the country is in partial chaos, and Somoza is having a non-hobo related trash can fire, and burning all his important documents. During this bit there’s a very anti-American speech.
Then the country falls into total chaos and for the next hour Jan-Michael and his posse try to get out of the country. These efforts include a few failed plane boardings, hiding in the US Embassy, hiding in an old whorehouse, and finally sneaking onto the “last plane out” after the Sandinistas take over.
On his way to sneak on the plane, Jan-Michael walks past “The Most Beautiful Woman in Nicaragua,” who is now in full Sandinista garb, complete with machine gun. Instead of shooting him, they just stare at each other, and then she starts to cry longingly. This story is ridiculous. Yes, it’s based around an actual event, but there’s no way anyone cried longingly for a lover in the middle of toppling a regime. Jack Cox seems to have written the movie to portray his friend Somoza (who he also wrote a book about) in a positive light, and to make himself look like a guy who would change his outfit five times on a first date. I also should mention this was directed by David Nelson (son of Ozzie and Harriet, uncle to Matthew and Gunnar.
Poster and Box Art: The Betamax box is miserable. Not only is it a blurry photo, you can’t even tell what’s going on. There’s absolutely nothing on this cover that would make you want to see this movie. I did find these other posters, all of which make things look much more action packed:
Availability: Last Plane Out is out-of-print and largely forgotten. Used VHS on Amazon.