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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.
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