Black Sunday is the powerful story of a Black September terrorist group attempting to blow up a Goodyear blimp hovering over the Super Bowl stadium with 80,000 people and the president of the United States in attendance.
A psychotic sniper plans a massive killing spree in a Los Angeles football stadium during a major championship game. The police, led by Captain Peter Holly and SWAT commander Sergeant Button, learn of the plot and rush to the scene.Written by
Tim Tompkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
SWAT stands for "Special Weapons And Tactics". See more »
Capt Holly (Charlton Heston) twice refers to the sniper's weapon as an "automatic rifle" (a rifle that continues to fire as long as the trigger is held back). But the weapon is actually a semi-automatic (in which only one shot is fired per trigger pull). A real policeman would not have made such a mistake in basic firearm nomenclature. See more »
He's a hell of a charmer. Just make sure his hair doesn't fall in your drink.
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Also, although Larry Peerce's name remains in the credits of the alternate version ("A Larry Peerce-Edward S. Feldman Film"), "Gene Palmer" is credited as director and Francesca Turner a co-screenwriter. See more »
"Two-Minute Warning" is one of those films that has a great premise--91,000 people gathered at the L.A. Coliseum are terrorized by an anonymous sniper during a championship football game--that is undone by one of the stupidest, most incompetent scripts in the history of motion pictures. Add to that the fact that the filmmakers spared every expense possible in telling the story, and you have a cheap, cheesy film that has to rank as one of the most disappointing films of the 1970's.
How incompetent is it? How about this for a setup: on Super Bowl Sunday (or Championship X as its referred to in the film), a sniper guns down a bicyclist from a nearby hotel, then escapes to the Coliseum, where he hides out in the belltower for the game to start, and evidently to start shooting. How does he get in? He simply breaks open a couple of locks, feeds the guard dogs some hamburger and climbs the ladder into the tower. There is no security, no police, no media, nobody around except one maintenance man the morning of the biggest football game of the year. Now, I was 13 in 1976 and I can tell you security was a concern even then. There is simply no possible way anyone could enter a facility that easily on such an important day.
Then there's the flimsy cast of characters: Charlton Heston as the police chief, John Cassavetes the SWAT leader, Martin Balsam the coliseum manager, Beau Bridges a father of two bratty boys, Pamela Bellwood as his wife, Marilyn Hassett as a college coed, David Janssen a car salesman and Gena Rowlands his girlfriend, Jack Klugman a sleazy gambler, Walter Pidgeon a sleazy pickpocket, and David Groh as a doctor who hits on the coed. There is no need to describe the characters any more because that is all there is to any of their personalities. These stereotypical cardboard cutouts are so one-dimensional they resemble nothing more than ducks in a shooting gallery, which in effect is all they are anyway.
And how about the ridiculous plot? When the sniper is finally seen and the police called, the wheels really start to turn, with the main conflict between the straight-laced captain and the flaky SWAT leader. The SWAT leader wants to put sharpshooters in the light towers without 91,000 people (or the sniper) noticing. The captain's plan? Evacuate the coliseum without the sniper noticing. They finally agree to man the light towers but to wait until the two-minute warning until any action is taken. Why? Because the sniper obviously wants to wait to see who wins the game before opening fire!
Honestly, the movie goes downhill from there. I can suspend disbelief up to a point. But this is the type of flick where a man can be shot and left dangling behind a thousand people and no one notices for five minutes. Or that the nosy father can see the sniper (he's evidently the only one in the stadium with eyes) and go to alert the police, but tell his wife and kids to stay in their seats (in the line of fire) so he can find them later. Or that the maintenance man can be knocked off a forty-foot ladder in full view of the crowd and not be seen by anyone but the policemen. Or that-- Well, you get the idea.
Then there's the annoying fact that the filmmakers were obviously too cheap to pay the NFL for use of their football uniforms and the Super Bowl logo, so we have the dubiously named "Championship X" between Los Angeles and Baltimore, but not the Rams and the Colts, as they were known back then. (Since 1977's "Black Sunday," which was also set partially at the Super Bowl, actually used the name "Super Bowl" and real teams, I have to believe money and not the NFL were behind the decision not to use the name.) And instead of paying for a top-notch recording star to sing the National Anthem, here we get Merv Griffin(!) warbling the anthem in one of the most laughable scenes in modern movie history.
And let's not even discuss the acting; suffice it to say that a lot of talented actors are wasted in roles that they took obviously to pay the bills until something better came along. And the direction is just pitiful. Can I nominate Larry Peerce (whose filmography includes such classic stinkers as "A Separate Peace," "The Sporting Club," "Why Would I Lie," and "Wired," the John Belushi biopic that ruined the careers of everybody involved) as second worst director of all time, right behind Ed Wood? In two hours he establishes no mood, no style, no urgency and no suspense whatsoever. And the miserable script by Ed Hume deserves placement alongside Eric Roth's "The Concorde--Airport '79" as the single worst piece of film writing of all time.
Incidentally, when NBC bought broadcasting rights to "Two Minute Warning," it must have been sight unseen because by the time they cut the violence and profanity out, only about 80 of 115 minutes remained, so they reshot the film, adding an hour of new footage in which the sniper went from an anonymous threat to a decoy for a jewelry heist next door, which simply made things even more ludicrous. After it's initial three-hour showing, the film was cut back to two hours with most of the new footage left intact, but only about 30 original minutes left, mostly with Chuck Heston and Cassavetes as the only original cast members left with any screen time. However, all of the names were left in the opening credits, even though Hassett and Pidgeon were completely cut out of the film and the other supporting characters reduced to cameos. Which should serve as a further indicator of how bad this film really is.
So, consider yourself warned and proceed at your own risk. And let's depart with this classic exchange of dialog: Coed (to doctor): Are you a doctor? Doctor (surprised): Yes, I am. How did you know? Coed: Dirty shoes. Nice, clean hands. Only a doctor would have hands that clean. Or another: Coed: I hate football. Doctor: I do, too. Coed: Well, then why did you come? Doctor: To meet you! Coed giggles uncontrollably. Viewer runs screaming from room. * (out of *****)
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