HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Apartment 1BR
1776
Parasite
Looking On the Bright Side
Take Me Somewhere Nice
Simon
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Gentlemen Broncos
To the Stars
Lady Godiva Rides Again
Angelfish
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, A
This is a Hijack
Loved One, The
Jumanji: The Next Level
Krabi 2562
Call of the Wild, The
Diary of a Country Priest
Sea Fever
Throw Down
Grudge, The
Green Man, The
Specialists, The
Convoy
Romantic Comedy
Going Ape!
Rabid
Infinite Football
Little Women
Camino Skies
Ema
Another Shore
Cry Havoc
Legend of the Stardust Brothers, The
Mystery Team
Westward the Women
Demonwarp
Man Who Killed Don Quixote, The
Chloe
   
 
Newest Articles
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
The Whalebone Box: The Andrew Kotting Interview
Being Human: The Elephant Man on 4K UHD Blu-ray
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
   
 
  Black Sunday Watch Out For That Blimp!
Year: 1977
Director: John Frankenheimer
Stars: Robert Shaw, Bruce Dern, Marthe Keller, Fritz Weaver, Bekim Fehmiu, Walter Gotell
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 3 votes)
Review: Not to be confused with Mario Bava’s Black Sunday (1960), this cracking suspense thriller is based on a novel by Thomas Harris, author of The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Inspired by the terrorist attacks during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Harris posits a scenario whereby members of the Black September organization, including femme fatale Dahlia Iyad (Marthe Keller), recruit crazed Vietnam-veteran air pilot Michael Lander (Bruce Dern) to stage an atrocity on American shores. Hot on their trail are dogged Mossad agent Major David Kabokov (Robert Shaw) and his C.I.A. counterpart Sam Corley (Fritz Weaver). Their globe-hopping pursuit culminates in a thrilling finale where Lander and Dahlia hijack the Goodyear Blimp with the intention of dropping explosives amidst the Superbowl, killing thousands of spectators including the President of the United States.

One of the most nail-biting thrillers of its era, Black Sunday deviates from Harris’ novel in a few areas that betoken the presence of Ernest Lehman, writer of Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest (1959), among its screenwriters. John Frankenheimer’s taut direction lends a spellbinding authenticity to proceedings, with edge-of-your-seat set-pieces (Dahlia’s attempt to assassinate an injured Kabokov in hospital; the violent pursuit of a terrorist cell leader across the streets of Miami) emboldened by hand-held cameras and his masterful use of the anamorphic widescreen frame. All the more impressive given his oft-expressed disdain for the format. After his groundbreaking work in the Sixties, Frankenheimer endured a long period of critical and box-office failures before French Connection II (1975) restored his reputation. Black Sunday was superior to his previous for-hire assignment and a worthy follow-up for producer Robert Evans, then-basking in the glory of Marathon Man (1976) which also featured Marthe Keller, a multitalented actress who now works in opera.

Although the film risks reducing the Palestinian conflict to a clear-cut good guys versus bad guys shoot ’em up, the screenwriters go some way towards upholding Harris’ faceted characterisations. The night before their attack, the terrorists sit weeping in their hotel room, while at other times come across equally vulnerable and regretful as ruthless. Crazy Vietnam veterans may have been Bruce Dern’s stock in trade, but the film allows us to empathise with Lander’s frustrations and anxieties, born from his betrayal by wife and country. His almost childish need to prove his “heroism” to Dahlia is balanced with psychotic cruelty, as when after their field test of the explosive device claims the life of a clueless victim (a sequence played for near-unbearably queasy black comedy), he lingers to admire the patterns bullet holes along the walls.

Despite playing a Palestinian terrorist with a strong Swiss-German accent (which the script covers by stressing her European upbringing), Marthe Keller gives a ferocious performance as the most ruthless conspirator. For all her homicidal mania, things are never entirely black and white as Kabokov discovers via an encounter with his Palestinian opposite number (Walter Gotell). Dahlia’s family were raped and slaughtered during the 1966 war (“Take a good look at her, Major Kabokov. In a way she is your creation”). Underscoring this Hitchcockian duality is the simultaneously charismatic and world-weary hero essayed by Robert Shaw. Having lost his parents, wife and sons to the Holocaust, Kabokov pursues the enemies of Israel with fiery zeal, earning himself the deliberately goading nickname of “the final solution.” Yet, increasingly sympathetic to the opposing side, he has grown weary of killing and winningly, stresses to Gotell’s character that an attack upon innocent parties would mean a moral defeat for both sides.

But of course it’s the Superbowl finale where Frankenheimer really shines. Staged amidst a real football game, supposedly Superbowl X, at the Miami Orange Bowl, its scale and pageantry floods the widescreen frame, increasing the tension tenfold. Frankenheimer himself lamented the lacklustre explosive effects but they’re far from detrimental. Awesome stunt-work finds Robert Shaw dangling from the top of the Goodyear Blimp, while John Williams' superb score thunders menacingly and Bruce Dern edges ever closer towards lighting the fuse…

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3740 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

John Frankenheimer  (1930 - 2002)

American director, from television, who really shone in the sixties with intelligent suspense movies and dramas like Birdman of Alcatraz, The Manchurian Candidate, The Train, Seven Days in May, Seconds and Grand Prix, but lost his touch from the seventies onward, with titles like The Iceman Cometh, 99 and 44/100% Dead, Black Sunday, Prophecy, The Holcroft Covenant, 52 Pick-Up, Dead Bang and The Island of Dr Moreau standing out, not always for the right reasons. Thriller Ronin was his swan song.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
  Hannah Prosser
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
  Rachel Franke
Paul Smith
   

 

Last Updated: