SECONDS

PrintE-mail Written by Matt Wells

Beautifully remastered for The Master of Cinema Series, John Frankenheimer’s 1966 sci-fi thriller masterpiece, Seconds, is a pure cinematic delight for fans of classic escapist fantasy. Starring Rock Hudson, Seconds is based around the concept of eternal youth and yearning for the dream life.

Based on the novel of the same name, Seconds is Frankenheimer’s lesser known work in his impressive filmography. Dismissed by audiences upon its initial release, Seconds can now be appreciated in stunning HD by a whole new audience as it showcases the disorientating cinematography of the talented and influential James Wong How.

Arthur Hamilton’s (John Randolph) life is unfulfilling and unremarkable. Middle-aged and working as a broker, Arthur is looking for a new lease on life. After a suspicious offer from an old deceased friend, Arthur involves himself in life changing surgery. Courtesy of The Company, Arthur is provided with a new identity without any prior commitments. Arthur is a new man in the form of ‘Tony’ Wilson, played by Rock Hudson in the finest performance of his career.

Seconds has a truly unique concept, which plays well with everyone’s fear of growing old. Frankenheimer utilises this fear in the movie whilst injecting that sense of paranoia that he is renowned for. From the unsettling Saul Bass intro to the horrifying ending, Seconds is a masterclass on ‘60s sci-fi.

This version of the film depicts the infamous wine tasting celebration in all of its unabashed glory by showcasing full frontal nudity and some truly jarring camerawork. Tony Wilson is thrown headfirst into a hedonistic hippie jamboree by Nora (Salome Jens), which manages to capture a real feeling of uneasiness. This is partly due to Frankenheimer’s direction and Howe’s remarkable cinematography throughout, which is accomplished with the use of fish-eye lens, hand-held shots and strong chiaroscuro.

Rock Hudson’s portrayal of Tony Wilson is truly magnificent as he manages to capture the mannerisms of John Randolph’s Arthur Hamilton perfectly. He allows the audience to believe that these two people are the same, and portrays his inner turmoil with some captivating acting.

To achieve Arthur Hamilton’s transformation, Frankenheimer openly states in the added commentary that real rhinoplasty surgery was filmed for the procedure, which resulted in one cameraman fainting on set. Frankenheimer shortly took over, which is a true testament to the production of Seconds.

Seconds has been painstakingly remastered to remove all scratches and debris from the original film and the quality of the picture is simply stunning. The smallest facial details can be noticed, whereas the clarity of much larger shots still looks impressive. It is one of the finest presentations of ‘60s cinema. Extras include a twenty-minute analysis from Kim Newman, separate commentary by John Frankenheimer and Adrian Martin, and the original theatrical trailer.

Perhaps Frankenheimer’s Seconds was too high-concept for audiences of the 60s, but this sci-fi thriller can now be recognised for its sheer brilliance. It’s an extraordinary experience, and a definitive piece of ‘60s cult sci-fi. Not to be missed.

Special Features: Commentary from John Frankenheimer / Analysis from Kim Newman / Trailer

SECONDS / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: JOHN FRANKENHEIMER / SCREENPLAY: LEWIS JOHN CARLINO / STARRING: ROCK HUDSON, SALOME JENS, JOHN RANDOLPH, JEFF COREY / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

 


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