At first glance the second chance at life looks great. A new identity, a house on the beach, and a beautiful new girlfriend in the seemingly hippyish Nora (Salome Jens). Then things go downhill and into a nightmarish realm. Really the whole film is a surreal nightmare, from the meat packing district to Randolph being drugged to out-of-proportion camera lenses and strange angles. And especially inside the reborn offices; what happens there is utterly otherworldly. Filmed in black and white this captures an experiment in surrealism that a major director wouldn't dare attempt today. And like all great '60s films this has a '60s feel and atmosphere to it. Especially when Nora and Tony go to a hippy festival, though Tony feels out of place there; after all he was formerly a square banker.
When Beach Boy Brian Wilson saw this film when it was released in 1966 he literally went insane. He believed Phil Spector was beaming him secret messages through the film to sabotage his career (the main character's last name was Wilson which may have added to his paranoia). But for a relatively healthy viewer it won't drive you insane...but it'll definitely have an effect on you.
If one had to pin down what this film is a metaphor for, it would have to be the old alienation of modern society theme, but here with an intense sci-fi-like twist. A must for all Frankenheimer fans, Rock Hudson fans, and/or '60s afficionados.
John Randolph is Arthur Hamilton, a man haunted by the thought of life passing him by. Arthur is brought to a strange agency, and is given a unique opportunity: the agency will erase Arthur's old persona via a convenient faked death, perform plastic surgery, and give him a new life as a "second". Rock Hudson plays Tony Wilson, his post-surgery "second" persona. In his new "second" identity, Tony learns that a new body and new identity don't address his need for individuality. Tony never lets go of his supreme self-centeredness, which eventually leads to his downfall.
The film settles in the pit of your stomach with several strange and unsettling scenes. At the agency, he meets a friend who has something on his mind...he seems very intent that Arthur adopts a "second" identity. When Tony awakes from surgery he is bandaged, and is told not to talk because his teeth have been removed. As he recovers, he is given a strange personality and occupational aptitude battery (I have never trusted these after seeing this movie!) Eventually After having too much to drink, he realizes all of his friends are fellow "seconds". Tony visits his wife, who think's he's dead. The gravity of Arthur/Tony's choice is clear; he can never go back. Eventually Tony returns to the agency, and is asked to suggest fellow clients...he never realizes the danger of not ponying up a new candidate. And the final scene...Read more ›