Seconds (1966)

SECONDS (1966)
Article 3049 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-12-2009
Posting Date: 12-19-2009
Directed by John Frankenheimer
Featuring Rock Hudson, Salome Jens, John Randolph
Country: USA
What it is: Cautionary science fiction tale of a dream turning into a nightmare

A middle-aged banker is drawn into a business deal with a clandestine organization that specializes in allowing people to change their identity, regain their youth, and start a new life. However, as he finds out, starting a new life requires knowing what you want to do with your own life and being willing to leave the old one behind. And if you can’t…

Of the great movies that John Frankenheimer made during his classic period in the early-to-mid sixties, this is the one with the greatest amount of fantastic content. The premise certainly seems like a dream come true, especially for those who have reached that mid-life crisis that leaves them wondering if they have wasted their lives (just having recently turned 50 myself, I can understand the appeal), but the ominous undercurrents are there from the beginning; the abrupt revelations, the strange room of desk clerks, the blackmail scheme, and the unanswered questions (just where does the organization procure its corpses for the faking of the deaths?) should all leave you with the ominous feeling that all is not quite right here. The story is gripping, the direction is strong, the cinematography by James Wong Howe (which uses a number of fascinating lens distortions) is memorable, the score by Jerry Goldsmith is strong, and all of the acting is effective, with special notice going to John Randolph and Rock Hudson (as the before and after main character), Will Geer, Salome Jens, and Murray Hamilton. You should also recognize Jeff Corey, Richard Anderson, and Khigh Dhiegh. The movie is powerful and memorable, and the ending won’t soon be forgotten. Highly recommended.

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