© 1966 Gibraltar Productions

Seconds (1966)

Reportedly Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys went to see this film while on acid and arrived late, so the first line of dialogue he heard after walking into the cinema was “come this way Mr. Wilson.” The musician proceeded to freak out during the film and continued to freak out long after the screening was over, mumbling to associates that rival record producer Phil Spector had “convinced Columbia Pictures to make the film in order to mess with my mind.” (The film was actually produced by Paramount, not Columbia.) Wilson put the epic album he was producing on hold for the next 35 years and didn’t see another movie until E.T. was released in 1982.

Even without the drugs and already fragile mental state, there was plenty to freak out the music producer in this film. Plot centers on a middle-aged banker whose life has lost purpose and is offered a second chance at life from a mysterious company who performs radical plastic surgery to turn him into a much young man (played by Rock Hudson). The plot comes from the source novel by David Ely, but the eerie pacing and staging in thanks to director Frankenheimer, who was also able to extract a surprisingly harrowing performance from Hudson. The creepy organ and piano music comes to us from composer Jerry Goldsmith. But one of the key artists behind the film is cinematographer James Wong Howe, who was nearing the end of a five-decade career in films, and who shot the film is such a strong, expressionistic way that each frame could be blown up to poster size and framed as art.

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