This film is the first in a sequence of four. The first two films out of the four in the series, concern Patty and her two female friends. The chief conflict is whether or not Patty will take the Mark of the Beast or not, in the face of the threat of execution by the forces of the Beast.
Patty Jo Myers is a young woman who considers herself a Christian because she occasionally reads her Bible and goes to church regularly, where the pastor is really an unbeliever. She refuses to believe the warnings of her friends and family that she will go through the Great Tribulation if she does not accept Jesus. One morning, she awakens to find that her family and millions of others have suddenly disappeared. Gradually, Patty realizes that the Rapture, an event some interpret from the Bible, has happened and she and everyone else left behind are entering into the Great Tribulation, the last days of Earth, dominated by the Antichrist. A government system called UNITE (United Nations Imperium of Total Emergency) is set up and those who do not receive the mark identifying them with UNITE will be arrested. Patty desperately tries to avoid the law and the mark but is captured by UNITE. Patty escapes but is cornered by UNITE on a bridge, and falls from the bridge to her death(in the dream state).
Patty then awakens, this time for real, and realizes that all she had experienced was only a dream. Her relief is short-lived when the radio announces that millions of people have disappeared. Horrified, Patty frantically searches for her family only to find them missing too. Traumatized and distraught, Patty realizes that the Rapture has indeed occurred and she's been left behind. In the ensuing plot the questions are 1) will she be caught (as in her dream she was caught), and 2) will she take the mark to escape execution.
The plot is somewhat hard to understand in the second film because the story of Patty is told in flashbacks within flashbacks. But it ends dramatically with Patty witnessing her friend Wenda being executed, and arguing with Wenda's younger sister Sandy (who, along with Jerry and Diane, urges Patty to take the mark) who betrayed them -- and being prepped for her own execution.
The 3rd and 4th films are spliced on to the ending of the second film, but begin a rather new story, that of Dave, Leslie, and Connie. Leslie is with Patty at the guillotine (waiting her turn), when she escapes due to the eschatological earthquake. She runs, goes down into an underground room and meets Dave there. It is love at first sight. Dave and Leslie have a romance. While the plot is a bit difficult to understand, Dave's purpose seems to be 1) to develop a fake mark so that a person can buy and sell without using the actual Beast's mark and 2) to destroy the master computer of the Beast by injecting into it a destructive code, which in fact is the song, "Onward Christian Soldiers." The story is presented with action scenes and interspersed long conversations. Connie is an agent of the Beast who pretends to cooperate with Dave.Patty Dunning as Patty Myers
Mike Niday as Jim Wright
Colleen Niday as Jenny
Maryann Rachford as Diane Bradford
Thom Rachford as Jerry Bradford
Duane Coller as Duane
Russell S. Doughten Jr. as Rev. Matthew Turner
Clarence Balmer as Pastor Balmer
This film includes Larry Norman's composition I Wish We'd All Been Ready, one of the earliest Christian rock hits and one of Norman's best-known releases.
A Thief in the Night has a 60% audience rating on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.
A Thief in the Night has been seen by an estimated 300 million people worldwide. It was a pioneer in the genre of Christian film, bringing rock music and elements of horror films to a genre then dominated by family-friendly evangelism. A quarter century later, the authors of the broadly successful Left Behind series of books and films have acknowledged their debt to Thief. Indeed, even the title "Left Behind" echoes the refrain of Norman's theme music for A Thief in the Night.A Distant Thunder (1978)
Image of the Beast (1981)
The Prodigal Planet (1983)