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'Seconds' *** 072206
The Work = ***
The film tells the story of Arthur Hamilton (John Randolph) who is unhappy with his life. Distant and withdrawn from his wife, successful but miserable, Hamilton desperately wants a change. Opportunity comes in the form of a phone call from an old friend and Hamilton is just unhappy enough to make the leap for a change. Up until now I have made this film sound like a fairly typical film, it is not. To continue I will have to go into plot spoilers so if you are curious and want to know nothing, stop reading after this paragraph and go out and rent the sucker! Shot in black and white, 'Seconds' reminded me of Frankenheimer’s take on a 1960s mash of David Lynch meets Charlie Kaufman. This is a dark journey and not necessarily a happy one. ******SPOILERS AHEAD******
The film starts in the middle of Hamilton’s journey to change his life. He is going to go to a company that has a unique offer: they will allow Hamilton to die and be reborn as a completely new person. They will fake his death, plastic surgery up his looks, (even change his signature) and give him a new identity: that of Tony Wilson. Hamilton is scared and confused as he follows the clues to find the company. He is convinced by his friend on the phone, who is also a client, and naturally has been dead for some time.
When Hamilton becomes Wilson the role switches and Wilson is played by non other than Rock Hudson. If you know what Randolph and Hudson looked like in the mid 60s you may scoff at the idea of the two playing the same role but Frankenheimer and company pull it off (thanks in part to a disturbing surgery sequence (that apparently uses some footage of a real surgery!) Wilson is the polar opposite of Hamilton on the surface and at first it seems like the new life the company sets up for him will work out. Things begin to downward spiral when Wilson begins to bring up his old life.
I have to admit I’m doing a pretty bad job of selling this film but I will say that much of this film has to seen to appreciated. Everyone involved with the film is firing on all cylinders. Cinematographer James Wong Howe works very well with Frankenheimer, creating stark imagery in often every day settings that bring to life the character’s unease. Jerry Goldsmith’s score accompanies the visuals (such as a creepy title sequence by Saul Bass.) The score is moody, organ heavy and a great addition to the film which is tightly edited by David Newhouse. Hudson leads the cast here and is very good (even with the re-dubbed audio, done to remove excessive camera noise.) Hudson is better here than he ever got credit for and shows he was capable of much more than he got do in most of his roles.
One final note in the review: there are a few different cuts of 'Seconds' out there but this is the only one I have seen. I am going to default to DVD Savant Glenn Erickson from DVDTalk.com on this issue:
DVD = ****
All Together = ***
Glenn Erickson's review at DVDTalk.com
Copyright 2005 - 2012 Nate Bundy. All rights reserved.