Germany, Nazi Officer Herr Von Blasko meets with Captain Drangel
to discuss secret plans to bomb a target in the Continental United
States. Drangel, an ace pilot, is ordered to fly the new XV-12 bomber
to a site in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. His target is a prototype Bomb
Sight the Allies have developed, which would give Allied bombers
the advantage of accurate, high-altitude sighting. Von Blasko's
servant, Nickolas, enters to serve refreshments as his master details
his plan to the pilot.
Soon after Drangel's
departure from Germany, word of his mission reaches General Blankenship's
office of military intelligence at the War Department. A source
close to Von Blasko has provided the Captain's flight course, and
it is decided that Major Steven Trevor, an American War Hero and
member of Blankenship's group, will fly an intercept mission solo.
Marcia, Trevor's secretary and confidant, is a Nazi spy and is privy
to the details of the pilot's mission. Trevor and Drangel meet in
the skies over the Bermuda ("Devil's") Triangle, and a
fierce gun battle ensues. Though the pilots are evenly matched,
the battle is brief. The planes collide and explode as the pilots'
parachutes unfold. As the two descend at close quarters, Drangel
is first to his gun. Trevor takes two bullets, and a stray wind
carries Drangel to a spot in shark-infested waters.
Some time later on
a nearby island, two young women are frollicking near the beach.
They spot something strange ahead in the sands, and an investigation
leads to the discovery of Trevor, unconcious beneath his parachute.
Neither Diana nor Rena has seen a man before, and Trevor is in no
shape to explain his appearance or his injuries. Diana lifts Trevor
and hastens to the island's hospital.
Soon afterwards, the
royal physician treating Trevor meets with the island's sovereign,
Queen Hyppolite, to discuss this strange visitation. It is revealed
that this island, Paradise Island, is a civilization of women known
as Amazons. Hidden in the mists of the Triangle, their island has
remained "undiscovered" for more than one thousand years.
The Queen decides that the unconcious Trevor is a potential threat
to the secret of their existence, and that he is also a threat to
the harmony of female spirit that has benefitted their small nation.
Diana, daughter of the Queen, enters the Royal Chambers and interrupts
the meeting. The doctor is excused, and Diana requests permission
to oversee the care of the foreigner. The Queen is swayed by Diana's
"scientific" interests in the man, and grants permission.
The princess is nearby
when Trevor is questioned under influence of Amazonian herbs. He
gives his name and allegiance to the United States. When questioned
about his mission, he relates the story of the bomber intercept,
as well as a brief explanation of the Nazi's attack on the Free
World. The medics leave Trevor to rest, but Diana remains behind
to watch him. Meanwhile in Germany, a wire from Nazi Intelligence
confirms that Drangel was lost somewhere in the Triangle. Von Blasko
decides to fly the important mission himself, in the "improved"
XV-13. Back on Paradise Island, Diana arrives for an audience with
her mother. The Queen rescinds her permission, later explaining
that it is because she believes Trevor is a threat to Diana's ties
to her home. She also explains that Paradise Island grants a virtue
of immortality to the Amazons, a gift that might be forfeit by any
woman who left its' shores. The Queen tells Diana that she has decided
Trevor will be returned to his country; a tournament will be held
to determine the most qualified applicant to make the journey with
him. Diana is upset when the Queen forbids her to participate in
the contest, and departs for the Summer Palace.
The day of the tournament
arrives, and the Amazons compete masked in games of athletic skill
and power. Two Amazons tie for first, and the test of "Bullets
and Bracelets" is announced to break the tie. The first woman
successfully deflects five bullets from her opponent's gun with
her Amazonian bracelets. The second woman is injured by a ricochet
when fired upon. The tall blond winner of the tournament steps forward
to accept the tokens of her endeavor: a golden belt of power that
preserves her cunning and strength in the outside world, and a golden
lasso with the power to compel people to tell the truth. Upon accepting
her mission, the woman removes her mask, and the blonde wig that
completed her disguise. Diana is the winner of the tournament.
As Trevor is loaded aboard
an Invisible Plane, the Queen reluctantly bids farewell to her daughter.
Diana gladly accepts the red, white and blue uniform her mother
produces, as well as a new identity her mother suggests: Wonder
Woman. Hours later, Trevor awakens en route to D.C. in the Invisible
Plane, but believes he is only dreaming. Shortly after landing in
secret, Wonder Woman dashes into a Washington hospital with the
unconcious Trevor in her arms. Her appearance causes a stir, but
she is successful in admitting the War Hero believed dead by the
American public. Soon after she has left the hospital, word of Trevor's
hospitalization reaches Blankenship, who tells Marcia the good news.
As the General steps out, Marcia closes the doors and shades the
window to make a private call. She speaks with another Nazi agent
in New York about Trevor's troublesome reappearance, and finalizes
plans for the theft of the Nordon Bombsight Plans from the Major's
Out on the street, WW is
the center of attention as she finds her way through D.C. in costume.
After a misunderstanding with an ambitious sales lady, she stumbles
upon an armed bank heist. She steps between the robbers and the
crowd, deflecting several bullets. The police arrive after she has
subdued the men. WW walks out of the crime scene and is approached
by Ashley Norman, a vaudeville agent. He offers her star billing
on stage, deflecting bullets from various assailants. He gives her
his card along with some time to think over his production. Later,
at the hospital, Blankenship and Marcia go to visit the still-unconcious
Trevor. Diana, disguised as a nurse, overhears the two discussing
the bombing threat. Trevor awakens after the General and Marcia
have left, and recognizes Diana from his earlier "dream"
of her. She gently urges him to sleep and resolves to adapt to "man's
world": she takes the job with Norman.
That evening, Wonder Woman
appears on a specially prepared stage, to deflect bullets for the
entertainment of a full house. Mr. Norman urges members of the audience
to volunteer, and pick one of several fire-arms provided to fire
at Wonder Woman. Marcia is present in the audience, seated next
to an old lady with a large carpet bag. After two men mount the
stage to volunteer, the old lady rises and heads for the stage behind
them. Wonder Woman deflects a rifle bullet from the first man, then
two shots from a handgun wielded by the second. The old lady requests
that she use her own gun, as allowed in Norman's advertisement.
The crowd goes silent as she produces and assembles a machine gun,
and Norman protests on his star's behalf. Wonder Woman gives the
"go-ahead," and the woman fires the entire clip. In a
flurry of motion, Wonder Woman deflects the bullets into the steel
wall behind her. As the crowd roars it's approval, Diana notes Marcia's
association with the last volunteer.
In Germany, Von Blasko
speaks with his servant Nickolas prior to his departure on mission.
As his superior takes off in the XV-13, Nickolas releases a carrier
pigeon bearing news of the departure. Nickolas is the Nazi informant
who has supplied the War Department's Intelligence network. In the
States, Trevor is awake and on the phone with Blankenship. As Marcia
listens, Trevor suggests the the Nordon Bomb Sight is Von Blasko's
target. When Blankenship concurs, Trevor offers to leave the hospital
and meet Von Blasko in the air. Blankenship is opposed to the idea,
but Trevor cuts him off with a "bad connection" ruse.
At Norman's office, Diana waits for her half of the performance's
profits. She spots an article in the local paper that reports Major
Trevor's conciousness and recuperation at the hospital. Diana tells
Norman that his promotional tour is out of the question; she has
something important to do. Norman tries to slip out with the money,
and resorts to a gun to stop Wonder Woman. She flips him atop a
table and leaves with her money. Norman reveals his allegiance to
the Nazi's when he then calls Marcia, and reports his failure to
capture Wonder Woman. He is instructed to await further details
of the common mission on behalf on the Nazi's.
Shortly afterward, Trevor
has himself released from the hospital, and contacts Marcia at his
office. He shares the details of his plan to fly again; his misplaced
trust in Marcia is his downfall when she arranges a roadblock to
waylay him en route to the airfield. Trevor is overpowered and taken
(unconcious again) to Marcia's apartment. At the hospital, "Nurse
Diana" discovers that Trevor has been released, and leaves
to find the still-injured hero. That evening at Marcia's, Trevor
is given truth-serum and questioned by his devious secretary. As
Norman and another Nazi look on, Marcia convinces Trevor to give
her the combination of the safe containing the Sight plans. Marcia
orders the men to watch Trevor until she returns with the plans.
If she fails to rejoin her comrades before the midnight deadline
to meet a German U-Boat, Trevor is to be killed.
Later at the War Department,
Wonder Woman interrupts Marcia's theft of the bombsight plans. Her
suspicions regarding Trevor's secretary are confirmed, but time
is rapidly running out. Marcia attacks, and her best efforts fall
short. She is bound by Wonder Woman's lasso, and is compelled to
relate the specifics of her mission. Alerted to the time of the
bombing and ensuing rendezvous with the U-Boat, Wonder Woman acquires
Marcia's home number and mimics her voice to order a one-hour delay
on the rendezvous time. Diana has one hour to stop Von Blasko's
airborne assault and rescue Trevor from captivity.
Comments: This is the first and likely the best Wonder Woman "episode"
to air. Stanley Ralph Ross provides Diana's origin in a series of
arresting scenes that are usually humourous and occasionally moving.
The various subplots unfurl in comic clarity, carefully timed to
build up a reputation for the fantastic "first" heroine
of the United States. And given the period of televised history
in question, Ross helped establish a new kind of TV hero: an intelligent
and caring woman who knew how to kick butt. (No possible insult
Several minor oversights in the story's
execution create unanswered questions in the minds of viewers. (Two
of these are obvious: "How did the Amazons devise the B&B
test when the first gun to arrive on Paradise Island was probably
Trevor's?" "Why didn't Nickolas report the bombing target
along with the specifics of the flight plans?") The plot "glitches"
do little to affect the tale's outcome. The cast of the movie is
rich with comic pedigree, a situation that lightens the routine
elements of drama present in the story. Standouts include Leachman,
who chews up the scenery with Mel Brooks-esque irreverence, and
Stevens, whose energy and charisma lend her character a sense of
affable ignorance. Buttons and Gibson prove similarly effective;
they both turn their supporting roles into fidgety comic vehicles.
Even steel-eyed Braedon, later to be a daytime TV regular, chuckles
and mugs during his dogfight with Trevor. Lynda's debut here is
a triumph. Her portrayal of Wonder Woman is a study in restraint,
a calming presence of reason amid the farce and spectacle of plot
Diana spends most of the film in
costume, giving Wonder Woman sizeable screen time. The special effects
here are simple but effective. The sound effects used to illustrate
Wonder Woman's actions in later episodes are absent here, but the
lack of electronic sonics is hardly detrimental. Her hand-to-hand
fight with Marcia is one of the best combat scenes filmed, not to
mention the most subversively slapstick routine to air in the five
years the series ran. Overall, this movie repays careful viewing
with an effective, memorably humorous take on Wonder Woman and her
mystical origins. The careful detail and off-kilter amusements set
production quality a high standard. Very few episodes of the series
to come were able to meet that standard, and none were able to surpass
Trivia: The core cast of this debut film changes
with the first episode "special;" Randolph and Leachman
never reprise their roles here. Gibson returns to the set in 1977
for "Screaming Javelin", as does bit player Anne Ramsey
(the cabbie) in a similar role (a van driver) in "Mind Stealers
From Outer Space". As noted above, Wonder Woman receives her
lasso and belt at this time. Her costume is said to be of the Queen's
design; the skirt is shown to be removeable, "should it prove
cumbersome." WW is given the ability to mimic voices in this
episode. Strangely, she is able to force answers with the magic
lasso without actually holding it. (Later episodes show her administering
a firm tug to the rope to force compliance.) At least one of the
B&B scenes uses "stop action" techniques to splice
a section of frames together. Speaking of bullets, this is the only
show to feature Diana deflecting projectiles from a machine gun.
The Invisible Plane is introduced here and given it's own "first
& last": the plane is used offensively to board another
The Queen provides two ground rules
in regard to WW's abilities in the outside world. These include
limitations on Diana's strength without her belt of power, and the
possible loss of her immortality while away from Paradise Island.
The latter wasn't really addressed in later episodes, though it
would have made an interesting storyline. The former limitation
placed on Diana turned into the infamous "Girdle Grabs"
of the series' ABC run. (That is, the scenes where a bad guy would
yank off WW's belt of power, and she would be overcome.) For those
readers who missed the specifics of the Amazonian tournament, here's
a list of events depicted: hurdles, archery, javelin, "stone-throwing,"
weight lift, high jump, long jump with barbells, arm wrestling,
and bullets & bracelets. A question for WW fans who are over
sixty: Were WWII-era Americans ever bloodthirsty enough to take
potshots at a woman for entertainment?