Seconds (1966)


NOTE: If the movie doesn’t play, watch it HERE.
SECONDS (1966) 60s faux-hunk icon, Rock Hudson, was an excellent comedic actor (Man’s Favorite Sport, Come September) but he had little chance to develop much of a resume as a serious actor via the studio system of the 50s/60s. He had his moments – Giant, Magnificent Obsession – but not that many of them. Then… there’s Seconds. A psychological sci-fi thriller directed by John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate to Ronin) about an old man given a mysterious opportunity –  from a dead friend, no less. It is, indeed, sci-fi, but the stark B&W directorial style gives this film a documentary-esque realism that made this an especially creepy movie back when I was a teen. Seconds plays like an extended Twilight Zone episode… slow-moving, with long passages of music but not a lot of fireworks. Yet Frankenheimer smothers this tale in tense paranoia, using invasive, disturbing camera angles that are made all the more unsettling by the brilliantly interwoven Jerry Goldsmith score. Don’t miss Will Geer’s skin-crawling fatherly figure performance, along with a lot of great character actors chewing up a lot of scenery. It’s funny that when Rock is made-up to look old, he looks just like what he looked like when he did get old. If you’re into this kind of filmmaking, the opening credits alone should reel you in. Legend has it that in 1966, Seconds was the last time Beach Boy Brian Wilson stepped foot in a movie theater (until 1982’s E.T.), because he was so spooked while viewing this on acid (enhanced by the film’s continual references to Rock’s character, “Mr. Wilson”). I like to watch the first 14 minutes just to revisit the soundtrack. Dialog: “There never was a struggle in the soul of a good man that wasn’t hard.” New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

8 Comments

  • 1
    wiley prybar
    October 20, 2012 - 07:06 | Permalink

    SECONDS! Awesome choice, Willard! You know, Brian Wilson thought it was a mind-f*ck aimed at him not only because of the “Mr. Wilson” stuff, but also because Spector either had financial involvement in the film, or Brian thought he did. He was convinced it was all an elaborate mind game from Spector to mess him up.

    Great film. I think the wine stomping scene is pretty hot!

  • 2
    buzzbabyjesus
    October 20, 2012 - 20:00 | Permalink

    This is a good one.

  • 3
    ubique
    October 21, 2012 - 15:19 | Permalink

    stunning movie & great choice; seen it many times,
    always amazed how well it stands up at each single
    viewing.

  • 4
    October 21, 2012 - 18:50 | Permalink

    Another great B&W film! Photographed by the great James Wong Howe, it was one of the first, if not the first, to use a fisheye lens effectively.

  • 5
    Steve Simels
    October 23, 2012 - 14:53 | Permalink

    Willard — couldn’t agree with you more about the movie, which I have raved about to people to the point of obsession over the years.
    http://www.boxoffice.com/simels/2010-02-great-lost-films-of-the-60s-an-unexamined-life?q=Jerry+Goldsmith

    And the score is a HUUUUUGE part of what makes it, so thanks for the heads-up on the soundtrack CD, which I was unaware of and am gonna download posthaste.

  • 6
    Willard
    October 23, 2012 - 15:24 | Permalink

    Hi Steve. I was going to leave a comment on your post but I’m not a member. So, I’ll just leave it here. I’ll disagree with you on one point. Rock – as much as I love the guy – doesn’t really give much of a performance here. His characterization “fits” what’s expected of his character (confused, dour), but his actual performance, I believe, leaves a lot to be desired. I view him as the weakest link in this cast, actually, which is made up of some incredible characters. The Company man who devours his chicken for him. Odd Job, hilariously upbeat and playful, Will Geer, who sends shivers down the spine and, especially, John Randolf (pre-Rock) who is about as convincing as one gets. I thought Rock did a great turn in the grape stomping sequence, when he finally has a break through and begins to actually “live” again, but much of the rest of his work in this movie is kind of one-dimensional… even though it DOES do what was expected of him. The movie, I think, is brilliant. Rock.. not so much. That said… some of his comedic work over the years is flat out fantastic.

  • 7
    October 25, 2012 - 13:11 | Permalink

    Hey Willard — Have you ever posted Carnival of Souls? It’s a classic!

  • 8
    Willard
    October 25, 2012 - 13:44 | Permalink

    A long time ago, but since it’s not in the archives, it’s probably time for a rerun.

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