A jaded pilot named Noah Dugan (Gould) is unemployed and owes a large amount of money due to his gambling. He goes to an old friend named Stoney (Vincent Gardenia), who owns an airfield. He is offered a job flying a cargo of animals to a remote South Pacific island aboard a B-29 bomber. Bernadette Lafleur (Bujold) is the prim missionary who accompanies him. Bernadette has raised the animals at an orphanage and is close to two of the orphans, Bobby and Julie (Schroeder and Tammy Lauren). The two children cannot bear to part with their beloved animals and stow away aboard the bomber as it takes off. During the flight, the plane goes off course and Dugan is forced to crash-land on an uncharted island. While on the island, the group meets two elderly Japanese holdout soldiers who have lived there alone for 35 years. At first, the soldiers treat them as enemies as they are unaware that World War II is over. However, Bernadette wins their friendship and trust and they propose to turn the plane into a boat to sail back to civilization. In the meantime, Noah and Bernadette (or Bernie as he calls her) fall in love. The two had resented each other at first. Bernie even paints the logo "Noah's Ark" on the converted boat-plane. The animals are also brought on board at Bobby's urging. Bobby resents Dugan at first, but the two eventually develop a close bond, especially after Dugan saves Bobby's life when the boy falls overboard while fishing for sharks. In the end, the characters are rescued by a United States Coast Guard cutter. The ending of the film shows Noah and Bernadette being married and then embracing the orphans as their own children.
- Elliott Gould as Noah Dugan
- Geneviève Bujold as Bernadette Lafleur
- Ricky Schroder as Bobby
- Vincent Gardenia as Stoney
- Tammy Lauren as Julie
- John Fujioka as Cleveland
- Yuki Shimoda as Hiro
- John P. Ryan as Coslough
- Dana Elcar as Benchley
- Ruth Manning as Charlotte Braithwaite
- Arthur Adams as Leipzig Manager
- Austin Willis as Slabotsky
- Peter Renaday as Irate Pilot
- Bob Whiting as Chaplain
- This film was released to many drive-in theaters on a double bill with One Hundred and One Dalmatians. The films' promotional slogan was "treat your family to a Disney summer".
- Elliott Gould has said that this was the finest film he ever did and the one he was proudest of.
- It was directed by the noted English director Charles Jarrott (who had previously directed Geneviève Bujold in Anne of the Thousand Days).
- The main story for the film was written by the noted author Ernest K. Gann (who also wrote the classics The High and the Mighty and Fate Is the Hunter).
- Four separate B-29's were used in the film production.
- The B-29 seen in the film is known as "Fertile Myrtle", which was used in the flying sequences of the film.