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The Love War: A Legacy of the ABC Movie of the Week

The other day a memory of 1970s television came to mind in the form of a science fiction tale, but I couldn’t remember the name of the program. Thank goodness for the Internet and Google. A quick search under “Angie Dickinson” and “Lloyd Bridges,” connected to “1970s television” produced the result I was hoping for. My search parameters brought back The Love War, a program which aired on March 10, 1970 (which would mean I was two days past my sixth birthday when I saw the program), as part of the ABC Movie of the Week.

This forum for television movies was signicant in entertainment for the period, at times launching what would become regular series such as The Night Stalker (January 1972), and the Six Million Dollar Man (March 1973), and it also included a number of noteable television movies in their own right, including Steven Spielberg’s Duel (November 1971), Satan’s School for Girls (September 1973), The Stranger Within (October 1974), Satan’s Triangle (January 1975) which I have posted on previously, and Trilogy of Terror (March 1975).

The Love War was one of the interesting offerings of sci fi, suspense, and horror that surfaced from time to time as part of ABC’s lineup. The story surrounded two planets at war which make the decision to send a small fighting force to planet earth as a neutral planet and the battleground for intergalactic conflict. On the surface the alien combatants look fully human. The only way in which the warring aliens can detect each other is through small electronic devices, as well as special visors which show the true alien nature underneath the human visage. Lloyd Bridges plays one of the aliens sent to do battle with his enemy. During the course of his mission he eventually befriends Angie Dickinson’s character, a woman he presumes to be human. Their relationship and trust builds to the point of romance, and Bridges reveals his true identity. At the conclusion of the movie Bridges believes he has killed the last of the enemy and his planet victorious, but the vicotry is short lived as Dickinson shoots him. With his dying gaze he looks at her with great surprise and confusion, and as he gasps his last she reveals that she truly did love him. Why then did she kill him? Bridges’s visor lays on the ground next to his body, and the camera now takes this perspective and we see Dickinson’s true nature revealed as an alien for the opposing planet, sent in violation of the interplanetary rules for warfare. Her weapons of femininity and romance have become the undoing for Bridges, and for his planet.

As mentioned above, The Love War represents one of several examples of good storytelling for the ABC Movie of the Week. From the comments offered at the Internet Movie Database for this television movie it is clear that I am not the only one for whom this program made a continuing impression. With this kind of appreciation, and the growing audience of fantasy fans, it is surprising that someone has not compiled the sci fi, horror, and suspense offerings from the ABC Movie of the Week into DVD form. Perhaps someone needs to let ABC know an audience is waiting.

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