“What Are Seconds?”
Arthur Hamilton (John Randolph) is a middle-aged man whose life has lost purpose. Approached by a secret organization, known simply as the “Company”, he agrees to a procedure that will give him a second chance in life. But Arthur finds “rebirth” comes with it’s own price.
Seconds is a compellingly paranoid interpretation on the legend of Faust. This dystopian sci-fi/psychedelic noir is easily one of the darkest, loneliest films ever funded by a Hollywood studio. It is the third entry in John Frankenheimer’s unofficial “paranoia trilogy” (the other two titles being The Manchurian Candidate and Seven Days in May), and although initially booed at the Cannes Film Festival years ago, this distorted gem has gone on to take it’s rightful place as a classic piece of cinema. Seconds lies squarely at the intersection of post-McCarthyist paranoia, revisited themes of ‘60s European art cinema and The Twilight Zone. At the same time it largely predicted the crises of masculinity and nightmarish interpretations of the counterculture yet to come in Hollywood cinema. Seconds, like few other films, questions our fundamental values – it points a chilling finger in the direction of own superficiality, and dissolves our notions of the sanctity of identity with a disquieting ease. Frankenheimer’s direction of this film, both in style and intent, puts him squarely in the same company as Stanley Kubrick and Orson Welles. Seconds also features a brilliantly innovative opening sequence by Saul Bass, dazzling cinematography of the legendary James Wong Howe, disorientating ambient orchestrations by Jerry Goldsmith and a performance by Rock Hudson which is often regarded as his greatest.
Seconds will crawl under your skin and stay with you long after the film’s end.