Black Sunday

1977

Action / Drama

2
IMDb Rating 6.8

Synopsis


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143 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by inspectors71

This is such a disturbing film, based on a very disturbing book byThomas Harris, the creator of Hannibal the Cannibal. I read the book in1976 and actually believed that cunning terrorists might be able tothink up a really spectacular way of killing a whole lot of people atone time, but we'd be able to see it coming and stop them, just like inthe book. Little did we know . . .<br><br>I imagine what it would have been like to see a mid-1930s era movieabout a carrier-borne air-strike against an American naval base. Itwould have seemed so far-fetched, and it would have drawn fire forsmearing the race or nationality of the aggressors. Yet, here's ThomasHarris's novel of a disgruntled POW who is hired by Palestinians to setoff an enormous shaped charge, packed with steel darts, into the crowdat a Super Bowl. With John Frankenheimer's skill and a great cast ofactors, Harris's story really does come to life, and even with theoccasional special effects flaw and some really unpleasant violence, itworks! I remember being so excited about the movie--it had Bruce Dernand Robert Shaw and that gorgeous woman from Marathon Man, MartheKeller. The art work was so imaginative! Even in dopey little Spokane,Washington, the Fox Theatre put up a billboard sized blimp on theirroof. Frankenheimer even shot two scenes of the President of the UnitedStates coming down to watch the action--one, a Jimmy Carter lookalikeand the other, Gerry Ford. The movie felt real, even with, as a Imentioned before, some special effects cheese that, for its time,couldn't be avoided.<br><br>In January 1977 I had not seen The Manchurian Candidate--I didn't evenknow who Frankenheimer was; the only directors I knew were Don Siegel(because I loved Dirty Harry) and Roman Polanski (because of--mychronology might be off here--his little dust up with an underage girlat Jack Nicholson's house, or something like that). If I had seen TMC,I might have noticed certain similarities between Candidate and BlackSunday--the damaged war veteran, the cold manipulators, the driveninvestigator of the truth, and the interspersal of violent, uglyimages. Yet, Black Sunday is truly an action movie; its relation to TheManchurian Candidate stops as the bombs and bullets start tearing upthe place.<br><br>Finally, it's strange to say that casting Bruce Dern as apsychologically damaged former carrier pilot was inspired--the man gotrich and famous off playing wackadoodles--but Dern is more tortured,more pathetic than anything I ever saw him in. His character is so sad,so torn up by his experience in the Hanoi Hilton that, while it doesn'texcuse his perfidy, he is as three dimensional as Sgt. Raymond Shaw.But Shaw did right at the end; Lander dies trapped by his own anger andhate.<br><br>So, if you can find it, I would strongly suggest renting this film. Itis disturbingly topical, intense and suspenseful, and an example of agood movie made about an attack against the Super Bowl, unlike theother winter 1977 football disaster, Two-Minute Warning.

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Reviewed by jrs-8 9/10

&quot;Black Sunday&quot; is a flat out exciting motion picture about the planning andexecution of a terrorist attack during the Super Bowl. Robert Shaw plays thehead of an agency trying to prevent the attack. Bruce Dern is at his creepybest as a brainwashed Vietnam vet enlisted by the lovely Marthe Keller tohelp carry out the sinister plan. Dern is a blimp pilot and the perfectperson to help detonate a contraption that will send thousands of deadlyneedles into the unsuspecting crowd. Dern was born to play parts like thisand it's a reminder of how terrific an actor he is and how sad it is that hedoesn't work as much as he used to.<br><br>The final 40 minutes is intercut between the game (actually shot during thereal Cowboys-Steelers Super Bowl game of 76) and the unfolding of the finalstages of the plot. It's tense and exciting as Shaw and cohorts commandeerhelicopters to try to catch the blimp heading to the big game to unleash itsdeadly attack.<br><br>Kudos to director John Frankheimer for keeping the pacing on this 2 hour 25minute thriller moving. The editing is first rate and the music score byJohn Williams is one of his best though it is never mentioned when his namecomes up.<br><br>If you like a good thriller that is never boring and will keep you on theedge of your seat, I highly recommend &quot;Black Sunday.&quot;

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Reviewed by Eric-62-2

&quot;Black Sunday&quot; is a nice example of how good action films used to be,beforethe 80s and 90s saw dumb scripts and dumb characters undermine the genreforever (films like &quot;The Rock&quot; for example). Instead of going fornon-stoppyrotechnics, John Frankenheimer and Ernest Lehman serve up a tense,exciting build-up with interesting characters along the way thatculminatesin a grand finale that was partly filmed during Super Bowl X betweenDallasand Pittsburgh. Robert Shaw, at long last given the chance to play thehero in a movie, is quite good as the weary Israeli agent and Bruce Dernisat his psychotic best as the deranged blimp pilot.

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