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4.2 out of 5 stars
Black Sunday
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2000
John Frankenheimer is an excellent action director. In Black Sunday he directs a thrilling story of terrorists trying to blow up the Superbowl with a blimp full of lethal darts. Bruce Dern is great as the bitter blimp pilot who throws his lot with Martha Keller, a Palistinian, who just barely keeps Dern from cracking up. Robert Shaw is excellent as the Iraeli agent tracking down the villians, from the first roots in the Middle East, leading eventually to America, and terminating in a showdown at the Superbowl.The action is good and the actors are well directed by Frankenheimer, who of course did the immortal "Manchurian Candidate," and pilots this action film to a smashing climax. Even after first seeing this movie, I am still haunted by Dern's sad portrait of a broken man and the horrific experiment he performs on an unsuspecting man of his exploding darts that make hamburger out of the man posing for what he thinks is a strange camera. A good example of Frankenheimer's style and art of direction.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2000
Black Sunday is a prime example of great seventies movie making. Thomas Harris(Silence of the lambs, red dragon) gave John Frankenheimer a lot of meat Here, we are introduced to real characters. Who have real dilemmas. Bruce Dern is haunting as Lander -- a pilot who is pushed(some by his own doing) into insanity. Marthe Keller is wonderful as a terrorist who wants to see the "mission" through. And Robert Shaw. Robert Shaw. Boy do I miss him. Scenes where he is absolutely outstanding: questioning an importer, asking a favor from another terrorist, and of course the ending. Man I wish they would re-make this. But they would probably screw it up. The aerial photography is some of the best put on celluloid. And John Williams' score is awesome. See Black Sunday.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2003
I remember after this film was first released in the Seventies speaking with someone who saw it, and though they liked it, found it unbelievable. "I just don't picture a bunch of terrorists being able to come over to the US and get away with anything" the person said. Time has shown us how right director John Frankenheimer's film "Black Sunday" was, and that we truly lived in a "sleeping America".
From the almost documentary-like opening title sequence, devoid of music and replete with the sounds of a foreign land, this suspense epic builds slowly and with unique conviction. The terrorists are all played realistically and no one goes overboard into the realm of ham. Shaw is gritty and and steel-eyed as he works against the clock to stop the plot.
Bruce Dern plays an ex-Vietnam helicopter vet hired by the terrorists to aid them in their plot to explode a uniquely devasting bomb at the Super Bowl. He is at his psychotic best, and one scene, late in the film, is particularly intense as we watch him break down before the camera and reveal just how deeply distrubed he truly is.
The score by John Williams is one of his best, using a simple 8 note motif that is introduced early in the film with piano and flute, and by the film's climax, is heard in thudering orchestral glory.
This is suspense thriller with a brain, so don't expect wild action from scene one. It builds slowly, with sporadic action scenes interspersed, as it aims toward it's climx at the big game.
Ironically, the film's achilles heel are it's special effects near the film's end. Cinematographer John Alonzo was alowed to handle the effects shots and later, the director had to redo most of them at the last minute. The result is that by today's standards, the film falls short of being totally convincing in several scenes.
Nevertheless, the editing is wonderful, the score huge, the acting great, and the story intriguing. It more than makes up for a few of those shots.
Seekers of intelligent thrillers will not be let down.
Sunday will never be the same.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2005
The movie Black Sunday is a good movie that runs neck and neck with the current state of the world, especially with this terrorist puppet show thats being broadcasted around the world to induce fear. The movie also has a special place in my heart because when I was 7 years old my father worked a management position at the Miami Orange Bowl and allowed me and my brother to watch the filming of the stadium scenes of the movie involving the Good Year Blimp over the field and the crowd in the stadium freaking out and running for their lives. I remember when the stadium freak-out scene was being shot the extra's were on the field and the director said "action" and everyone went running and screaming from the blimp prop and then one of the extra's (an old lady) ruined one of the shots by saying "oooooh" and picking up a quarter she found on the feild, lol . But any how , If your into good terrorist movies and 70's cinematography, you'll enjoy this creative movie that involves a plot to savatage a Super Bowl game with a terrorist act of flying a blimp over the stadium field and igniting a contraption beneath the blimp that shoots out thousands of fragments that would shread the croud to peices and the football players! Will the crowd and the players be shreaded to pieces? Will the terrorist get away with crazy scheme? You'll have to watch the movie and see for yourself!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2005
Some movies show their age shortly after they were made. This is one that was written by Thomas Harris that is still timely. At the time it was fresh to the terrorist taking over the Olympics, but now it seems timely because of the activities in the Middle East. Robert Shaw and Bruce Dern especially turn in fine performances. The support cast is good as well. The music by John Williams is good as always. The addition of shots of the real Goodyear blimp and the Superbowl X game add to the believability. We even see Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staughbach, and the other real players for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys. During the scene where the people stampede, you may find yourself mooing. Fans of "Two Minute Warning" should love it. I bought this since it is still a good movie and the price is great. Not much in the way of extras, but excellent picture and sound quality.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2003
This movie, based on a book by Thomas Harris ("Silence of the Lambs" and "Red Dragon") is a terrific action-thriller about a terrorist plot to inflict mass casualties upon attendees at a Super Bowl game (which the Cowboys just BARELY lost, by the way).
Robert Shaw portrayed the operative determined to stop the plot. His methods were extremely direct and effective -- he simply eliminated terrorists wherever he encountered them (except during a moment of weakness, when he came upon Marthe in the shower, at the first of the film, which proved to be a costly mistake). Shaw's character acted in a totally unilateral fashion, never halting to form a coalition or obtain United Nations approval. He never whined, "Why do they hate us?" He did not reach out to the terrorists with a friendly hand bearing tolerance, inclusion, diversity or compassion. His intent was to protect people from being attacked by terrorists, and he knew that the only way to do that is to kill them first -- he knew that NOTHING else works, against terrorists determined to kill you. He was absolutely right, and that's why everyone liked his character so much.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2003
Black sunday has to rank as one of the most gripping thrillers of all time. Disillusioned Vietnam war hero Bruce Dern joins forces with femme fatale Marthe Keller - a member of Black September terrorist organisation - to pull off the deadliest attack ever on US soil. Their target - 80,000 unsuspecting Superbowl spectators. Their weapon - a blimp full of millions of lethal darts. The one man who can stop them - Robert Shaw - is the ruthless Mossad agent known in close circles as The final solution, yet he has become a tired war veteran beginning to question the direction he is going. He must find and stop the threat before it is too late....
Made in 1977, this is probably going to be the most realistic portrayal of the threat to sovereign nations posed by terrorists that you are likely to see. Credit must go to director John Frankenheimer for this. His gritty film making style lends to razor sharp tension punctuated with bursts of intense screen violence - there are no punches pulled here, no political correctness thrown about. The strength of the movie is that its characters force you to see the situation from all points of view. In the end, you root for Shaw's character to stop the attrocity from taking place, but such is the ingenuity and determination from Dern and Keller that you wonder, can they actually pull it off? The chase scene with the blimp and the helicopter will have you on the edge of what's left of your seat.
Soon to be released on dvd? I would love to see it happen, but with the current situation and uncertainty about how it would be received I highly doubt it. A remastered widescreen version on tape.....now that might be something worth having.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2003
The film by the late John Frankenheimer wasn`t the success it was hoped for. Too bad, because "Black Sunday" would have been worth it. Although a big-budget film (a Robert Evans production) it is not superficial at all. It cares for its plot, which is not the cliché you can expect from actual productions of a similar theme. The 70`s were different, and Frankenheimer was a perfect director to create dramatic tension and believable characters. He is helped by excellent (though underrated) actors: the great Robert Shaw (maybe in his last fine film)plays the lead against Bruce Dern and Marthe Keller. The soundtrack by John Williams is equally fine (and develops the thrilling aspects of the movie). All in all this is a film which is impossible to make in the same way today. Just imagine a terrorist thriller nowadays: Produced by Michael Bay, starring Bruce Willis instead of Shaw and bad guys that are presented like the one from "Bad Boys 2"- pure horror...
The DVD by Paramount has a very good picture and the sound is available in restored mono and in perfect 5.1 surround. As Shaw and Frankenheimer are dead, I didn`t expect a making of or deleted scenes but I think a theatrical trailer should be the minimum for a DVD from such a big studio. Still, this is worth buying!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2000
I saw this film when it was released back in 1977. In fact, I saw some of the actual filming of it in Miami. It was great watching Robert Shaw's stunt double being placed on the blimp's (Goodyear's Mayflower, N1A, for you airship enthusiasts) fin by a helicopter as it hovered over the Orange Bowl! When I saw the film, the aerial photography looked great. 20 years later, I rented the film, and was very disappointed with the way it looked. The cropped screen really killed the aerial photography as well as the special effects. The color was muddy. Lifeless. Although it did give the film a creepy feel to it, especially the scenes that took place in the Middle East with the terrorists. The film should be released on DVD and in widescreen. That would bring all those great aerial shots back to life.Pity, shots like that wouldn't be filmed this way today due to Hollywood's intoxication with computer generated images.
By the way, for you airship enthusiasts again, two blimps were used for the suspenseful conclusion. The base scenes were shot in California using the Columbia. The Super Bowl scenes were shot in Miami using the Mayflower, being a smaller blimp than the Columbia. So the blimp in the movie shrinks, gets big and then shrinks again in size!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2010
Still the greatest film made about international terrorism ever made, Black Sunday has an immediacy, an urgency throughout that lets us know the CIA, FBI and Isrealis are working against the clock to find the terrorist cel and intercept what might be happening on American soil. Bruce Dern gave the finest performance of his career as Viet Nam vet Michael J. Lander, coerced into working for the terrorists when they convince him America has failed him and Robert Shaw is superb as Kabokov the Isreali agent looking for him. Dern's breakdown scene when he thinks the mission is cancelled is both heartbreaking and terrifying because we see the first time the magnitude of his rage and madness. Marthe Keller, who had a pretty good run in the seventies is sort of a latter day Joan of Arc gone made in her performance as Ilsa, more than willing to use her body and give of her mind for the cause. Tautly directed by John Frankenheimer, the film has a realism that is gritty and strojng, often looking like a documentary. The chase sequence through Miami is extraordinary. A masterpiece that so few and far too few people know about.
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