Wednesday, February 17, 2010

“Black Sunday”

Director: John Frankenheimer 1977
A few weeks ago, The Wall Street Journal ran a piece stating that the NFL serves up a mere 11 minutes of action on average per game—that over a three-hour running time. So faced with a Super Bowl between the Saints and the Colts (if the Packers aren’t in it, I don’t care) and with the endless parade of loud and often tasteless commercials, plus the bombastic half-time entertainment, I opted to watch “Black Sunday,” John Frankenheimer’s excellent thriller based on the Thomas Harris novel about a terrorist attempt to blow up the Super Bowl by hijacking the Goodyear blimp and packing it with explosives (Harris, by the way, researched the novel with two colleagues from the New York bureau of the Associated Press, who shared in whatever dough was made from the book and movie).
Frankenheimer brings his patented documentary style to the proceedings, and the movie gets extra points for presenting two sides to the Israeli-Palestinian problem. The cast is fine, headed by Robert Shaw as a Mossad agent, Marthe Keller as his nemesis, and Bruce Dern as her nutty pawn.
The action is beautifully paced and edited (hallmarks of a Frankenheimer film), and the climax well staged, despite some obvious rear-projection shots (no CGI in 1977).
A solidly crafted movie with a bit more to say than the average popcorn fare.


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