2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frankenheimer's Trippy Twilight-Zonish Masterpiece
Seconds is probably the trippiest film you're likely to see. It stars Rock Hudson as Tony, a "reborn" of John Randolph (one of the actors blacklisted under McCarthy). It's ostensibly about this guy in a midlife crisis who is forced into this super secret organization that creates second lives for people by giving them new identities. This film hit so close to...
Published on Dec 25 2003 by Adam Bernstein
3.0 out of 5 stars Out of tune
"Seconds" is one of those films that is both too long and too short. Conceived as a half-hour episode of the original "Twilight Zone" series, it might be a compelling nightmare, a kind of Borgesian sick joke shot by Fritz Lang on speed. We'd accept the story's heavy-handed sententiousness as a necessity of the short format and revel in the snap with which it was...
Published on April 23 2002 by Charles S. Tashiro
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frankenheimer's Trippy Twilight-Zonish Masterpiece,
This review is from: Seconds (VHS Tape)Seconds is probably the trippiest film you're likely to see. It stars Rock Hudson as Tony, a "reborn" of John Randolph (one of the actors blacklisted under McCarthy). It's ostensibly about this guy in a midlife crisis who is forced into this super secret organization that creates second lives for people by giving them new identities. This film hit so close to home for Rock he nearly broke down during filming.
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seconds,
This review is from: Seconds (DVD)Perhaps the most unknown and under appreciated American film of all time. John Frankenheimer at his edgiest and most paranoid. Rock Hudson is brilliantly cast as the young reincarnation of a middle-aged man who under goes surgery to regain his youth. A film truly ahead of its time and an inspiration to filmmakers everywhere. Story is told brilliantly with some of the most inventive camera work ever!
5.0 out of 5 stars The Scarcity of "SECONDS",
This review is from: Seconds (DVD)Though still listed in Leonard Maltin's 2006 Movie Guide, by his 2011 edition, John Frankenheimer's 1966 film classic "SECONDS" is missing altogether. Why?! How come?! Something is terribly wrong with Mr Maltin's judgment here. It has been my experience in the last few years that there have been other very mysteriously missing components to Links, YouTube Sites and Movies. It was dismaying once again to discover a truncated ending to John Frankenheimer's 1966 production of "SECONDS". As the very brusque Dr Morris (Karl Swenson) laments over the head of the heavily tranquilized "Tony Wilson" (Rock Hudson)--"You were one of my finest creations"--then directs an enormous power-drill into the "lower lobotomal portion" of his skull; the next parting scene to the whole movie depicts a dream-like memory of a father and son silhouetted on a beach. What is wholly missing in my recently acquired DVD version of the movie is the child crying out for a balloon which has slipped from his fingers. This balloon ties in to the memory regression tape recordings administered upon Tony Wilson by perhaps the most diabolical of almost all supporting cast actors ever introduced in movies: Khigh Dhiegh. Portraying the "Reborns" Company psychiatrist, "Davalo", he plays for the newly operated upon Tony some tape recordings of Tony in tranquilized regression speaking about his early desires and ambitions. The first recording which Davalo plays and dismisses as too early in Tony's life has him reminiscing about "wanting a red balloon". Apart from a following reminiscence about wishing to be a tennis pro and watercolorist, it is this early childhood desire for a balloon in the original sketchy ending which may have been have been one of the happiest events in Tony's life. Understandably open to speculation but it may further explain the movie's title, i.e., Tony was only happy in his brief life for a few "SECONDS".(?) The absence of this vital component suggests to me that films undergo as much cutting and re-cutting as bricks of cocaine. Despite the overwhelming premium price that I paid for this DVD copy ($39.99, Cdn) through Amazon, I am grateful nonetheless to have scarce ownership of this film classic.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Disturbing Mid-Life Crisis,
This review is from: Seconds (DVD)Without question, "Seconds" is a disturbing and unique film. It's odd, unclassifiable, and not easily forgettable. It is also one of the few films that will upset you with each subsequent viewing. The passing of John Hamilton gives me pause to reflect on this underrated films - one of the best dramas of the mid-1960s, and one of the best psychological thrillers ever put to film.
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...I won't spoil it, but you'll feel cold afterwards.
Hudson is brilliantly and presciently cast, as it was made before his sexuality was common knowledge. It's little wonder that "Seconds" is recognized as Hudson's best work. John Randolph as the gray, depressed Arthur Hamilton is overshadowed by Hudson, but his understated performance is critical to the Hudson's portrayal as Hamilton's "second" chance. Never a great actor, Murray Hamilton is at his best as a frightened agency client - we know why he's nervous, but wonder why Arthur can't see it. Will Geer is eerie and unforgettable as the agency's patriarch, who waxes philosophical with his failed clients. Frankenheimer's work is brilliant. "Seconds" takes a toll on it's viewers, and I find that I have to steel myself to watch this great film again. Strongly recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Time Capsule of Terror,
This review is from: Seconds (DVD)The core concept of this film has special relevance almost 40 years after its initial release, given recent developments in genetic engineering: Recycling of human beings, whole or in parts. As I again watched it, I thought about several themes which have intrigued man throughout history, such as eternal youth (e.g. the fountain of youth) and unholy pacts (e.g. in the Garden of Eden and, later, Dr. Faust). Dissatisfied with his life, Arthur Hamilton (John Randolph) presents himself to The Company and agrees (for a substantial fee) to become a different person and have a lifestyle about which he has obviously fantasized for many years. After extensive surgery, he becomes Antiochus ("Tony") Wilson (Rock Hudson), twenty years younger, strikingly handsome, physically fit, and living what is for many males an idealized bachelor's life. He seems to have everything Hamilton once desired and yet....
This is among the subtlest but also one of the most frightening of films. To say more about its plot would be a disservice to those who have not as yet seen it. Suffice to say that, under the brilliant direction of John Frankenheimer, the cast plays out what becomes a horror story of almost unbearable impact. My opinion is that Hudson's performance is his strongest throughout a lengthy film career. Will Geer appears briefly but memorably, as do others in a diverse cast which includes Murray Hamilton, Jeff Corey, Richard Anderson, and Salome Jens. Also noteworthy is James Wong Howe's cinematography which nourishes, indeed intensifies the gradually-increasing sense of terror as Wilson attempts without success to re-negotiate the terms and conditions of his surgically-enhanced life. Whenever I recall the final scene, I shudder despite the fact that I have seen this film several times and know that it is "only a movie."
4.0 out of 5 stars A cult classic deserving of more attention,
This review is from: Seconds (VHS Tape)Director John Frankenheimer, cinematographer James Wong Howe, and composer Jerry Goldsmith have each produced a body of outstanding work. Likewise the terrific supporting cast (Will Geer, Jeff Corey, John Randolph) have given many impressive performances over many years. So it is no surprise that, when they come together with SECONDS, they create something special. What is a surprise is the powerful performance by the much-maligned Rock Hudson. It is searingly effective in its focused intensity-- certainly among his finest work.
Interestingly, at the time he was too popular a "star", with a recent spate of successful if insubstantial romantic comedies to his credit. No one felt it believable that John Randolph could be transformed into this familiar celebrity. Now, with Hudson's face and figure much less familiar to new generations of filmgoers, this concern is somewhat alleviated, and his performance can be valued on its substance.
At the same time, with our fuller knowledge of Hudson's personal life and tragic death, his ability to portray a man leading what is essentially a double life is far less surprising. He brings to the role a scorching insight and personal perspective that is both pointed and poignant, and in the end degenerates convincingly into desperate fear and rage.
As the adjectives used above would indicate, this is not a "nice" film. There is no happy ending to this story that transcends genre to speak to the dark places in all of our souls.
5.0 out of 5 stars SECONDS,
By A Customer
This review is from: Seconds (DVD)A movie that is true to life in how many people probably really feel about their own lives...Very haunting and disturbing...DON'T miss this movie! Rock Hudson gives the performance of a lifetime. DVD has many extras, and well worth the price. Would give 10 stars if possible...
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth Buying,
This review is from: Seconds (DVD)For anyone who's fascinated by overlooked gems, this is the film for you. Disturbing and eery from the opening credits montage to the final ambiguous scene. This is worth picking up to see that Rock Hudson was more than a face and that Frankenheimer was years ahead of his time and one of the truly great directors of the 1960's. This was such a fantastic marriage of bizarre camera work, sterile settings, and a sense of something slightly "off" about the everyday world. It succeeds where countless films and TV shows have failed. Much like what you would expect from one of today's Indy directors taking on an old Rod Serling story. It has a very deliberate pace and is recommended for those that have the patience to appreciate every scene. The director commentary from Frankenheimer is insightful and honest all the way through, giving much credit to cinematographer James Wong How. Highly recommended for anyone that wants to see one of the only examples of good "Sci-Fi" post 50's schlock and pre-70's popcorn-flicks.
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting chiller,
This review is from: Seconds (DVD)This haunting chiller qualifies as director John Frankenheimer's best film. John Randolph plays a middle aged businessman who is given the chance to start is life all over again. He looks 20 years younger, sounds like he's 20 years younger because now he is. He's given a new face and identity. The catch is that he can't contact his widowed spouse or their children ever again.
Sucked into this surreal world, Rock Hudson gives one of his sharpest and most impassioned performances. Perhaps that's because, despite his matinee idol looks and heterosexual swagger, Hudson was gay. In many repsects he had to project one image while hiding another and those around him couldn't be clued in because it would destroy his career. It's something Hudson might be able to identify with (ironic then that the gay actor Will Geer most famous for playing grandpa on The Waltons is the head of the company that "renews" people).
Frankenheimer's direction is imaginative. The cinematography, editing and overall look of the film could be a textbook on surreal cinema by itself. Frankenheimer uses a variety of short, long and wide fisheyed lenses to convey the frightening world that Hudson's character has fallen into. Despite the fact that it was released in 1966, Seconds could be a modern fable about identity and discovering who we really are vs. who we pretend to be.
The DVD has a running commentary by the later Frankenheimer and a widescreen transfer (the first time this film has been available in ages in that format). The black and white photographer is beautifully rendered with the rich shadowy world rendered in crisp, sharp images.
Arguably Frankenheimer's finest film (the other films that belong in the same category are his films of The Manchurian Candidate and The French Connection 2), Seconds captures one of Hudson's best film performances. This DVD release is a deluxe edition that has many of the unusual bells and whistles we've come to expect from Criterion and other quality DVD/Video companies. Be warned, though, that Second is not a film everyone will enjoy. The film comes with a decidedly downbeat ending (somewhat unusual even in American cinema in the mid-60's, Frankenheimer was clearly influenced by the French New Wave movement that was going on at the same time)but is powerful and leavea a lasting impression.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Unexamined Life,
This review is from: Seconds (DVD)About 5 years ago, at my health club, a bunch of us got to talking about movies, and some guy I barely knew grabbed me by both collars of my shirt and said, "You HAVE to see this movie!!! You just HAVE to!!" So OK. So I did. So it's truly brilliant, and on my list of fave flics. This film is one of those "fatal decision" stories, where the character, without due consideration, unwittingly makes that irrevocable and irretrievable committment to alter the course of his life, and in doing so, comes to the horrid realization that the choice made was, in fact, the wrong one, and maybe life before the decision to change wasn't that bad after all. Too late! Frankenheimer does a brilliant job of powerfully conveying that moment of gut-wrenching realization that the character can't go back, can't change his mind. Camera angles are used very effectively to impart a sense of skewed reality that the main character experiences. In all, a gem of a film. Definitely worth a watch. Would pair well as a double feature with Terry Gilliam's "Brazil", or "Me, Myself, and I", starring Rachael Griffis.
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Seconds by John Frankenheimer (DVD - 2002)