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Black Sunday

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Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Shaw, Bruce Dern, Marthe Keller, Fritz Weaver, Steven Keats
  • Directors: John Frankenheimer
  • Writers: Ernest Lehman, Ivan Moffat, Kenneth Ross, Thomas Harris
  • Producers: Alan Levine, Robert Evans, Robert L. Rosen
  • Format: NTSC
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Studio: Paramount
  • VHS Release Date: April 1 2004
  • Run Time: 143 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6300216799
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,600 in Video (See Top 100 in Video)

Product Description

Product Description

John Frankenheimer's eerily plausible adaptation of the Thomas Harris thriller of terrorists at the Super Bowl stars Robert Shaw as Mossad agent Major David Kabakov. Loosely inspired by the events of the 1972 Munich Olympics, the film concerns a group of Arab terrorists, calling themselves Black September, who plan to create havoc at the Super Bowl by sailing the Goodyear blimp into the huge crowd and raining 200,000 steel darts on the spectators. To this end, their leaders, Fasil (Bekim Fehmiu) and Dahlia (Marthe Keller), have decided that she will seduce Michael Lander (Bruce Dern), a disturbed Vietnam POW who pilots the blimp on weekends, and plant the darts without his knowledge. However, during a raid on a Black September stronghold, Kabakov finds a taped message left behind that warns the United States that it will pay dearly for turning its back on the Black September group. Kabakov heads for Washington, where he teams up with FBI agent Sam Corley (Fritz Weaver), desperate to know how and when the threat will be carried out before it happens. This is another excellent political thriller from Frankenheimer, in the tradition of THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE and SEVEN DAYS IN MAY. Veteran screenwriter Ernest Lehman (NORTH BY NORTHWEST) fashions an uncomfortably convincing scenario, with well-developed characters played with utter conviction by Dern, Shaw, and Weaver.


Palestinian terrorists attempt to wipe out a Super Bowl crowd in this 1976 thriller directed by John Frankenheimer (Seconds). Frankenheimer's unique facility with action--the unusual breadth of his view of violence, which stresses sustained drama over escalating thrills--makes this taut movie engrossing from start to finish. The lengthy cat-and-mouse stuff during the big game--much of which was shot at a real Super Bowl--is quite exciting. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 24 2004
Format: VHS Tape
For years the 1977 film "Black Sunday" was seen as being prophetic with regards to Super Bowl Sunday becoming a national obsession. But twenty-five years later it is the element of the terrorist attack that is seen as being prescient. If anything the story of this film is more powerful today, even if the special effects are less than special, even by the standard of the times.
The story is based on the novel by Thomas Harris, his first work, now note worthy because it is the author's only work not involving Hannibal Lecter. Mike Lander (Bruce Dern) is a psychotic Vietnam vet who spent six years being tortured as a POW and who now joins up with Dahlia Iyad (Marthe Keller), a member of the Palestinian terrorist organization Black September in a plan to detonate a bomb at the Super Bowl. If for some reason you have never seen the film the poster art of a dirigible appearing over the top of the football stadium gives away how they plan to accomplish this task. Because a Palestinian is involved the person trying to stop the plot is Israeli agent David Kabokov (Robert Shaw), who knows full well the dangers of trying to stop people who are willing to die to accomplish their goal. He is also a man tired of living in a world where nothing ever changes and all the deaths he has seen and caused mean nothing.
The hero and villain are men twisted by their lives in different directions and it is these characters that try to make "Black Sunday" more than thriller and it is their personal conflict that helps to sustain the film when we get to the big finish and things go a bit over the top. But up to that point it is a pretty solid thriller.
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Format: DVD
Robert Shaw plays Kabakov, an Israeli operative tracking a dangerous Palestinian terrorist named Dahlia to the United States after recovering a tape recording intended for use after a terrorist attack on American soil. With help from Sam Corley (Fritz Weaver) of the FBI, he begins a race against time to stop the attack before it can be unleashed on the unsuspecting American public. Meanwhile, Dahlia (Marthe Keller) along with disgruntled Vietnam Vet Michael Lander (Bruce Dern) works to create a device that could cause the worst massacre on American soil since Pearl Harbor.
About the Movie:
Black Sunday is one of those movies you see shown on independent TV stations on Sunday afternoon. It's a surprisingly complex movie, but one that is deeply flawed in a few vital spots, causing it to be relegated to the budget DVD section.
All that said, there's a lot going for it. John Williams wrote the musical score for Black Sunday, and like most of his work, it is excellent, providing much of the intense tension a viewer will feel while watching this movie. It also proves that not all of his compositions sound like Star Wars.
Directed by the legendary John Frankenheimer, Black Sunday shows much of his talent in constructing a compelling film. At the time of release, the plot undoubtedly seemed far fetched, but now, after September 11, 2001 it almost seems plausible and has gained new relevance that makes it worth watching.
In some ways, this is a deeply psychological movie. The two main characters, Kabakov and Michael Lander are both deeply flawed characters, pushed by events into the actions they take, and the movie attempts to analyze them in some depth.
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Format: DVD
'Round Super Bowl time I'll break out and watch this little 'what-if'-type (though not so 'what-if' as it used to be) action thriller. Although it might not be one of the all-time greats in the medium of suspense flicks, it contains a sufficient degree of excitement to keep me interested, as well as a decent combination of flubs, continuity errors, and plot holes to satiate the nitpicker in me. Probably the most notable continuity error here is the part featuring then-president Jimmy Carter arriving and attending the game-- which is kinda bizarre, seeing as how Gerald Ford was the president when Super Bowl X was played...
I doubt they could've picked a better guy than Bruce Dern to play the disgruntled manic-depressive-former-Vietnam-POW-blimp-pilot (how's that for a character description!) whose plans to blow up the Super Bowl with the help of his mideast terrorist connection/lover gets the whole ball of wax rolling. If you've seen him do his thing in "The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant" and "Silent Running", it's apparent he's good at playing smoldering section eight types who come unhinged as the movie runs its course. This talent is showcased at several points throughout "Black Sunday", most notably after his character's test-firing of a sample weapon on an unsuspecting groundskeeper. His excited, almost child-like joy over the success of his efforts combined with his cold disregard for the life he snuffed out is one of the more disturbing action-cinema moments I've witnessed.
On the opposite end of the casting spectrum, I'm not fully convinced the late Robert Shaw was the right fit for the ruthless Israeli commando protagonist, despite his reputed skill at playing similar characters. It didn't help that he looked like he was reading off of cue cards in a few scenes.
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