Middle-aged banker Arthur Hamilton is given the opportunity to start a completely new life when he receives calls from his old friend Charlie. The only problem is that Charlie is supposed to be dead. Hamilton is eventually introduced to a firm that will fake his death and create an entirely new look and life for him. After undergoing physical reconstruction surgery and months of training and psychotherapy, Hamilton returns to the world in the form of artist Tony Wilson. He has a nice house in Malibu and a manservant, a company employee who is there to assist him with his adjustment. He finds that the life he had hoped for isn't quite what he expected and asks the company to go through the process with surprising results. Written by
"Seconds" has gained a cult status in later years and is frequently revived. According to director John Frankenheimer it's "the only movie, really, that's ever gone from failure to classic without ever having been a success." See more »
When Tony is on the gurney with the gag in his mouth, as he is trashing about, the knot in the surgical tubing moves inconsistently between shots. See more »
Man in Station:
[Man in train station hands Hamilton a folded sheet of paper and turns to walk away; Hamilton stares after him, then opens the folded paper to find an address, with no explanation]
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Seconds : a realistic tale of suffocating paranoia
"Seconds" is a fascinating and engrossing realistic fantasy tale that deals with the question of the identity and above all, the exploration of madness symbolized by the search of material happiness and the search of eternal youth which leads to the most claustrophobic fate. "Please be yourself !" can be the warning of this film. The innovative and the post-expressionist cinematography of James Wong Howe (the use of the 9.7 mm fish-eye lens, extreme chiaroscuro, tilted low angle shots, hand-held camera shots) combined with the stylish graphic work of Saul Bass and a cold, taut and harsh music of Jerry Goldsmith makes it like a Faustian tragedy with a Kafkaesque approach. The whole film is about distortion. The twisted vision of the main character trapped in his own nightmarish world, full of "re-borns" and "employees". But the real nightmare is the dreary routine of his existence. For instance, the scene of the train when Arthur Hamilton is reading his newspaper and feels suddenly sick with his life. We see very short shots of the train window and his sad face. The more oppressive scenes are silent just extreme close-ups of faces. Perhaps, the best film directed by John Frankenheimer and the best paranoiac film ever created. "Classic" is a weak word to define this masterpiece of modern terror. "Seconds" is the last film of the John Frankenheimer's paranoiac trilogy, without forgetting : "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Seven days in may".
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