Seconds & Second Chances with Rock!

DATELINE:  No Deal?

unbecoming Rock Unbecoming Rock!

We love Seconds, or even thirds and fourths of Rock Hudson in his best performance—ever.

We cannot say this lightly. The John Frankenheimer film of 1966 was a game changer in style and director controls. Here, you find something completely different in its stylistic attitude. Cameras may be strapped to the backs of the actors, and the entire feel is somewhat institutional hallucination.

Seconds is a tale of new beginnings, or at least the kind offered by impersonal corporations, if run by some Satan. In this case, the satanic figure is fatherly (and even grandfatherly) Will Geer, better known as Grandpa Walton. Here, he is in his early career roots as the bad guy with a smile that is malevolent. His lackey Jeff Corey is suitably irritating.

Many other familiar faces of the 1960s give this film a sense of been there—but not quite. Frances Reid later became a soap opera queen of Days of Our Lives, but here is the wife of John Randolph, a man in his 50s and unhappy.

He is about to have the chance to become a run-down Rock Hudson.

The deal, like all those offered by Faustian bargain, is never quite what you want. Here, Rock Hudson discovers a tad too late that the hedonistic life of an artist in Malibu is not all it’s cracked up to be with corporate spies (Salome Jens) and a butler/manservant that is all too obsequious.

The final moments of the film are chilling and provide Hudson with something he never had in movies: a real juicy acting gig. This is something to behold and admire, and it holds up for the baby-boomers who might have scoffed in youth, and now look askance at the aging process.

Long Forgotten Executive Action

DATELINE:  Believe It or Don’t

 action

One of the most unusual of the early theoretical movies on the Kennedy Assassination was called Executive Action from 1973, a mere ten years after the event.

Already big questions had sparked big movie stars like Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan, and Will Geer, as well as John Anderson (often chosen to play Abe Lincoln in movies and TV) as billionaire conspirators who want the President dead.

They select a patsy who is some kind of covert double agent. His name is Oswald.

Though the film claims to be somewhat fictional, it quotes Lydon Johnson at the movie start as saying he believed that John Kennedy was killed by an unknown group. This movie, made with the participation of early assassination doubter Mark Lane, is fairly courageous and breath-taking, even after five decades.

We must also express surprise at the stars who chose to play the men who want President Kennedy dead.

The film is no cheap, low-budget affair. It is well produced and directed by David Miller who made some interesting movies in the 1950s and was written by Dalton Trumbo, the famous blacklisted writer.

This returned Grandpa Walton to the bad guy roles that made him famous early in his roles, and Will Geer is notably sinister. This was also Robert Ryan’s final film.

The angles, once thought to be outrageous, have become more acceptable in recent research. The film may not be a genuine biopic or docudrama in the sense of trying to achieve 100% truth, but this may be closer than anyone thought back in the 1970s.

More than a curio, this film is downright compelling to watch.