Based on the 1968 Barbara Mackle kidnapping by Gary Steven Krist, this was the ABC Movie of the Week, airing on September 12, 1972.
Karen Chambers has been kidnapped and placed in an underground coffin with an air supply and water while the criminals try and get the money. Karen is played by Sallie Shockley, which is kind of interesting because The Candy Snatchers is pretty much the same movie — well, this is made for TV and doesn’t get quite so rough — and the female protagonist of that movie was played by another alliteratively named actress, Susan Sennett.
This was directed by Jack Smight, whose resume includes The Illustrated Man, Damnation Alley, The Traveling Executioner, No Way to Treat a Lady and Airport 1975, which is the very definition of an eclectic resume. He’s working from a script by Merwin Gerard, whose TV movie credits are The Screaming Woman, The Victim, She Cried Murder and The Invasion of Carol Enders. He also created the series One Step Beyond.
The cast is great. There’s David Janssen as the father, Phyllis Thaxter (Ma Kent from the Superman movies) as the mother, James Farentino as the lead kidnapper, Skye Aubrey as his partner and Mike Farrell as an FBI agent.
Beyond being referenced in the aforementioned The Candy Snatchers, this was also filmed in 1990 as 83 Hours ‘Til Dawn. There’s also an episode of Quincy M.E., “Tissue of Truth,” that is ripped from these headlines. This movie only aired once, as there were issues with who owned the rights to the story.