Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


SECONDS (1966). Director: John Frankenheimer.

"We lived our lives in a polite, celibate truce."

Middle-aged Arthur Hamilton (John Randolph) seems to be living the American dream: he has a good job and is in line to be the next president of the bank, lives in a beautiful home in the suburbs, has a kind and presentable wife. But Arthur suffers from a mid-life crisis, he and his wife feel no passion for one another and are going through the motions, and he is tired of the commute and rat race. So when an old friend who is supposedly deceased calls him from out of the blue and suggests he go to a certain address and can start his life afresh, get a second chance, he decides to go -- although not without trepidation. Hamilton is practically blackmailed into accepting the services of the people he connects with, and before he knows it he has said good-bye to his old life, made financial arrangements to look after his wife, and undergoes physical therapy and cosmetic surgery -- and wakes up looking just like Rock Hudson! With the new name of Tony Wilson, Hamilton (now played by Hudson), a "reborn," is ensconced in a seaside community in California as a minor artist. The problem is that Hamilton is a nice but essentially dull man and he finds that he can't get away from himself. It all leads up to a grim but inevitable finale. Randolph and Hudson are both excellent as the two sides of Hamilton -- Hudson probably gives his best performance, in fact -- and they get fine support from Frances Reid as Arthur's wife, Salome Jens as a woman who befriends "Tony," Jeff Corey as the head of the Reborn organization, Wesley Addy as Tony's valet, Murray Hamilton as Arthur's old friend, and others. [This is based on an excellent novel by David Ely that probably filled in some of the loose ends you might find in the movie if you examine it too closely.]

Verdict: Creepy and absorbing, with some excellent performances. ***1/2.

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