Seconds (1966) Review

SECONDS (1966, USA)

Dir- John Frankenheimer

Starring- Rock Hudson, Salome Jens, John Randolph

Out now from Eureka/Masters Of Cinema

Finally getting it’s first home entertainment release in dual format Blu-Ray and DVD thanks to Eureka on their Masters of Cinema label, who have provided a fantastic transfer of Frankenheimer’s underrated masterpiece. Unlike his most well known films such as BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ and the brilliant MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, SECONDS is one of the entry’s into his filmography that didn’t really get the recognition it deserved. In fact when the film was released in Europe, critical reaction to it was hostile to the point where Frankenheimer refused to leave Monte Carlo, where he was shooting his next feature GRAND PRIX. It also was a box office flop despite having the presence of already established Hollywood heart throb Rock Hudson, though this might be down to the films dark subject matter, its downbeat tone and in tackling uncomfortable questions on whether your current life which seems unfulfilled and pretty much non-existent could change into a brand new life.

The film begins with a brilliant distorted nightmarish credit sequence created by the genius of Saul Bass, eventually dissolving into a train station full of commuters. One of these is Arthur Hamilton (Randolph) a middle aged banking executive who is given a written note by a stranger amongst the crowded train station. This message leads Hamilton to a shadowy company called “The Company” who offer a specifically special service. Hamilton eventually pays a visit to the company and they offer him the ultimate makeover to fake his death and be re-born in a life of his own choosing. He becomes the handsome artist Anthony Wilson (Hudson), lives in a Malibu beachhouse with a man servant and soon starts to settle into his new self striking up a romantic relationship with a free spirited women who lives in a neighbouring beach house, Nora Marcus (Jens), who has also left her previous existence behind but without the aid of changing her appearance. Soon he starts to become entranced by the lifestyle he leads going to a hippy retreat where partakes in a ritualisitc wine making session and then starts to hold cocktail party’s at his retreat. It’s not long after one party that he starts to feel depressed and unfulfilled with his new identity and feel that it is just as false as his previous life and wants to restart again. But that’s entirely up to “the company” who don’t seem to be willing to offer another exchange in identity.

SECONDS is an unnerving and dark film that is ahead of its time. Many could see the picture as a parable of changing identity’s especially in a decade of progressive change such as the 60’s, where old society was being challenged by the new. Though deep down it does not have the progressive or free wheeling attitude of the 60’s as it’s a far bleaker portrait of the need to change ones life, that life as it stands, the one you are born with is not as fulfilling as believed and that placing ourselves in these roles restrict us and if offered the chance to change everything and be re-born we would take it, even if it meant destroying your old life and cutting off connections with those that you love. Though the dark question in SECONDS is that even in a new life, will you be fulfilled and will it be worth the change. One of the best scenes in the film comes about when Wilson/Hamilton goes back to see his wife whom he was married to in his previous life, pretending to be an acquaintance who met her now supposedly dead husband previously and who talked about art with him.

Hamilton’s wife goes into a brilliant speech about how her husband seemed almost disconnected and almost ghost like, when coming back from work, living in the house in silent co-existence and that they became almost friends rather than a loving married couple. It’s in this scene that Hudson brilliantly conveys the realisation that he has turned his back on something that he didn’t like only to go further into another life that he now comes to realise is just as unfulfilled. Hudson is brilliant in the role of Wilson and far exceeds the matinee idol/heartthrob moniker he had been labelled with showing that he can take on a more dimensional character. The scene where he gets steadily drunk during a cocktail party is one of both convincing cringeworthy moments broken by mood changing attitudes that can only be brought on by too much booze, which is all the more convincing when it’s known that Hudson actually got drunk for this particular scene. Credit should also go to cinematographer James Wong Howe’s brilliant visual style which is far ahead of its time, using stedicam style shots attached to the actors that have become prevalent in contemporary cinema (Darren Aronofsky employed a similar device in REQUIEM FOR A DREAM and PI) and fish eyed lens shots that add to the ever increasing nightmare unfolding before us.

Certainly Frankenheimer’s previous films should be rightly hailed as the masterpieces they deserve to be. However, with SECONDS a film that is slowly gaining the recognition it deserves, we see here a fantastic piece of work from a director who was in his prime aided by a superb performance from an actor who seemed to be clearly in the mood to tackle something more complex. Brilliantly bleak, beautifully and terrifyingly visual, SECONDS is a masterpiece and an underrated one at that, which is highly recommended to those willing to watch an undiscovered gem that deserves a place in any genre fan or cinema fans film collection.

10/10

An Interview with Chanel Ryan by Dean Sills

CR1An Interview with Chanel Ryan by Dean Sills

Hello Chanel, thank you for your time and welcome to UKHS.

 

UKHS – Your first movie appearance was in the independent film ‘Waiting For The Rocket’ in which you played a character called Chris. How did you get into acting and what has been your biggest achievement in the field of acting?

CR – I’ve always loved acting and have wanted to be an actress since childhood. Thankfully, my modelling career made it an easier transition. Shortly after working on “Waiting for Rocket”, I went to audition for the film “George Wallace”, directed by the legendary John Frankenheimer. On the spot, he personally offered me the role, working alongside Gary Sinise and Mare Winningham! At the time, I was so new to the industry that I didn’t realize how lucky I was or what a big deal it was, to book a leading role in such a film and to work with such amazing talent. As far as my greatest achievement in the field of acting, I believe it has yet to come.I just hope to continuously do better and better work, alongside the most talented people.

 

CR2UKHS – You have been named one of the “Sexiest Women on the Planet” by magazines from four continents and your beautiful face and body have graced magazines across the globe, congratulations Chanel. How glamorous is it being a model and has modelling changed other aspects of your life?

CR – Although my focus is now acting, I can definitely tell you that, from the years of experience, that modeling is not all that glamorous. Sure there’s the traveling to exotic locations, staying in beautiful places, meeting interesting people, and wearing beautiful clothing, but then there’s the waking up at 4AM, working long days shooting until the sun goes down and often times, it’s either cold and windy or scorching and humid. By the end of the day, every bit of you just hurts and can’t even enjoy the scenery. No regrets though!

 
UKHS – I recently interviewed the beautiful, Scream Queen, Devanny Pinn and she talked about ‘Dead Sea’. I’m looking forward to seeing this movie and delighted you are also in the cast. What can you tell us about your role and are you excited about starring in a big creature feature?

CR – I LOVE LOVE Miss Devanny Pinn and was psyched to work along side her in “Dead Sea”. We had a fun scene together on the pontoon boat. My character and a group of friends are spending our summer vacation having fun in the sun, travelling from location to location, partying it up, when we end up on a pontoon boat in the middle of a lake, wondering why we’re the only people around!

[youtube=www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q92tAxA3ijE]
This past January, the 2014 ShockFest Film Festival was held at Raleigh Studios in Los Angeles. I was fortunate enough to have two films: “Dead Sea” and “Circus Of The Dead”, competing against each other for the “Best World Premiere Trailer Award.” The award went to “Dead Sea”!

 

UKHS – ‘DeadSea’ looks a fantastic movie.Congratulations on winning the “Best World Premiere Trailer Award” for ‘Dead Sea’. Let’s talk about ‘Circus of the Dead’. You play Tiffany Johnson in this one. What can horror fans expect from this movie and can you tell us a little about Tiffany?

CR – “Circus Of The Dead” is an artistic slasher film about a Circus that comes to town, bringing with it a group of twisted, demented clowns lead by Papa Corn, played wickedly good, by Bill Oberst Jr. They seek out people who take precious things in their lives for granted and force them to examine them in the most horrific of ways. Without spoiling the plot – or the clowns will come after me! Tiffany is a mother and wife who loves her family very much. She’s disillusioned with her marriage and longs for her husband, played by Parrish Randall, to pay more attention to her, the family and start appreciating what he has.

[youtube=www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOhbKuGg3gk]

UKHS – You are also reprising your role as Ms. Gleason in ‘Bad Kids Go To Hell 2’, opposite Judd Nelson and Ben Browder. How much fun is it playing the over zealous cheer-leading coach/history teacher?

CR – Even-though we’re set to shoot this summer in Texas’ scorching sun, I can’t wait!! It’s still in the preproduction stage, but it’s extremely flattering to be asked to come back for the sequel. I had so much fun on the first one and to be opposite Judd and Ben again is awesome. Both are such pros and I learned a lot from the experience. ??

 

PrintUKHS – What other projects will you be working on this year and do you have any upcoming DVD movie releases?

CR – I have a few films coming out this year. CIRCUS OF THE DEAD will be out in the fall. The film is having it’s World Premiere at Texas Frightmare Weekend in May and an east coast premiere at Bizarre Atlantic City in June. So anyone wanting to see a sneak-peak of the film, can come out to one of these events and meet me, director Billy Pon, Bill Oberst Jr. and Parrish Randall. DEAD SEA if coming out on VOD/DVD in late spring and ALICE D. will be out later this year too. Still waiting for info on the release of SKUM ROCKS! Next month, I head to Louisiana to film the sci-fi/horror pic THE HALO THEORY and just signed onto THE HATCHED LADY, shooting this fall!! Can’t divulge any details just yet, but stay tuned.
 

CR4UKHS – You have had extensive dialect coaching from the “Master of Voices”, Bob Corff, helping you perfect numerous accents, from British to Southern. I am from Yorkshire in England, can you do a good Yorkshire accent?

 

CR – Ha! Better than your pudding.

 

UKHS – You’re that good? Our Yorkshire Puddings are made from plain flour, eggs and milk but what would you consider to be the three main ingredients that you need to make a classic horror flick?

CR – I’d say the three main ingredients for any film regardless of genre are: 1) a great script 2) an extremely talented Director of Photography and 3) an amazing editor and of course talented actors to carry it. Guess there are four main ingredients.
CR5UKHS – If you were stranded on a desert island, which three items would you want to have with you? 

CR – Being the always over-prepared person I am, with full survival kits in both my house and car, I’d natural choose a knife, a lighter……of course!! survival expert, Bear Grylls! Wait. Since I have Bear, I’ll nix the lighter and knife, for waterproof mascara and lip gloss!

 

CR6UKHS – Finally, what is the hardest role that you have had to play and do you go to extreme lengths to prep for your parts and stay in character?

CR – I’m prepping for a couple of projects now, that are going to be quite a challenge. I’m to play a woman with an inoperable, debilitating disease, which is definitely a big foray from my horror characters. With any project, there’s always a certain amount of prep involved. Some just more than others. I’ve spent hours upon hours researching, studying, perfecting accents and even going as far as getting professional tactical weapons training and staying in a real haunted house to prepare.

CR7UKHS – Thank you for your time Chanel. Good luck with all your amazing projects and keep up the great work.

CR – I must insist on thanking you! I would like to say hello to all the UK readers! I try to end every interview with a plea to spay and neuter your pets. Together we can end homeless animals. If you are thinking about getting a pet please adopt!! There are so many wonderful animals at your local shelters and animal rescues just waiting for good homes. You can keep up with me online at:

IMDB

Chanel Ryan’s Website

Instagram 

You Tube 

Twitter

Facebook