Seconds

Hemmed in by an arid marriage, paunchy middle-aged banker Randolph grasps another chance at life when a secret organisation transforms him into hunky Hudson and gives him a new start as an artist in Californian beach-front bohemia. Freedom, however, turns out to be a rather daunting prospect, and the struggle to fill the blank canvas comes to typify Hudson's unease with his new existence. Saul Bass' unsettling title sequence sets the scene for the concise articulation of fifty-something bourgeois despair, as visualised by James Wong Howe's distorting camerawork and the edgy discord of Jerry Goldsmith's excoriating score. After that, the film's uptight view of the hang-loose West Coast feels like a slightly forced argument, until Frankenheimer regroups and the jaws of the narrative shut tight on one of the most chilling endings in all American cinema. Little wonder it flopped at the time, only to be cherished by a later generation, notably film-makers Siegel and McGehee who drew extensively on its themes and visuals in their debut Suture. (This downbeat sci-fi thriller completed Frankenheimer's loose 'paranoid' trilogy - earlier instalments being The Manchurian Candidate and Seven Days in May.

Release details

Duration: 105 mins

Cast and crew

Director: John Frankenheimer
Screenwriter: Lewis John Carlino
Cast: Wesley Addy
Murray Hamilton
John Randolph
Karl Swenson
Khigh Diegh
Robert Brubaker
Salome Jens
Rock Hudson
Will Geer
Frances Reid
Jeff Corey
Richard Anderson
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