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By Greg Goodsell

8/26/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (

Rock Hudson chiller about mid-life crisis and identity resonates more with current audience

An unmitigated flop when it was first released, its director John Frankenheimer recalls the reception his science-fiction chiller "Seconds" when it was first released. "People would call the movie theater to ask what time it was playing. Theater owners would say, 'just come over to the theater and we'll play it for you!'" Frankenheimer laughed. In 2013, "Second's" story about mid-life crisis, plastic surgery, identity - as played by romantic male lead Rock Hudson, then trying to hide his homosexuality - is more relevant than ever. The film is getting a new lease on life with its Blu-Ray release.

In a perverse reversal, matinee idol Rock Hudson has his movie star mug swathed in bandages, while the leader of the secret plastic surgery foundation that rejuvenates looks is played by the elderly Will Greer - who is clearly NOT a client of his company's services!

In a perverse reversal, matinee idol Rock Hudson has his movie star mug swathed in bandages, while the leader of the secret plastic surgery foundation that rejuvenates looks is played by the elderly Will Greer - who is clearly NOT a client of his company's services!


By Greg Goodsell

Catholic Online (

8/26/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Movies

Keywords: Seconds, John Frankenheimer, mid-life crisis, plastic surgery, film, Rock Hudson

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Warranting the Criterion Collection treatment, many feel this is long-awaited justice for an obscure masterpiece.

Director Frankenheimer was at the height of his fame in 1966. The young director of such classics as "The Manchurian Candidate," "Seven Days in May" and "The Train," Frankenheimer recruited Hollywood heavyweights such as photographer James Wong Howe and Hudson for "Seconds." How could it miss?

As Frankenheimer puts it, "Seconds" went from failure to classic without ever becoming a success. The reason was simple: art-house crowds were loathe to see a picture starring Hudson, often cast alongside Doris Day, and housewives who adored Hudson were unprepared for a film with shocking amounts of gore, nudity and existential angst.   

The story is simple as a bad dream: Arthur Hamilton (John Randolph) is a bored, 50-year-old New York banker in a loveless marriage. He is encouraged by a mysterious organization to assume the identity of the artist Antiochus Wilson (Hudson) after extensive plastic surgery and a faked death.

Resettled in Malibu, California, he appears to find true love with Nora Marcus (Salome Jens). However, drunk at a party, Hudson blurts out that he is a "Second." This doesn't sit well with the other party guests - as they too, are other "Seconds" sworn to secrecy! The situation spirals out of control from there.   

A classic scene has the "widow" of Hamilton (Frances Reid) paying a visit to Hudson, and unknowingly nails her husband in not so many words: "He fought for what he was taught to want, and once he had it, he didn't know what to do with it."

Science-fiction author Harlan Ellison called "Seconds" the greatest science-fiction film of all time, saying its truths were stark: "You can't escape who you are ."

Part science fiction, part thriller, part horror, part film noir, part black comedy, "Seconds" is being hailed as a period piece that is more contemporary than ever.


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