Based on a novel by Joan Hemingway and Paul Bonnecarrere, Rosebud opens with five young women vacationing aboard a luxurious yacht called the Rosebud. All five of the women are the daughters of wealthy and powerful men; one of them is the daughter of an influential American senator.
Their vacation is shortlived, however, as the Rosebud has been targeted by a group of Middle Eastern terrorists who kidnap the girls and hold them as hostages until their demands are met.
Quickly alerted to the situation is reporter Larry Martin (Peter O'Toole), who it turns out is really an agent for the CIA. Martin enlists the aid of agents from Israel and West Germany, as well as a strange Islamic Englishman who, as he is working to destroy Israel, would seem to be on the side of the terrorists.
Martin has his work cut out for him, as he must rescue the hostages quickly and with no injury coming to any of them. Adapted by Eric Lee Preminger for his father, director Otto Preminger, Rosebud was initially set to star Robert Mitchum, who left or was fired after experiencing one of the director's customary heated confrontations.