Seconds - Dual Format DVD/Blu-ray

Tuesday, 27 October 2015 00:00 Written by 

Seconds - out now on dual format Blu-ray and DVD“Seconds” is a thriller from director John Frankenheimer (“The Manchurian Candidate”, “Ronin”) about a bored banker who is drawn into shady scheme to dole out new identities. Not only does the man undergo extensive plastic surgery to change his entire appearance, but he is handed a new and luxurious house (complete with servant), a ready-made career and a carefree lifestyle. His old body and life, family included, is jettisoned.

The aging, overweight banker, Arthur Hamilton (John Randolph – “Serpico”, “Prizzi’s Honor”), is transformed into Antiochus ‘Tony’ Wilson (Rock Hudson – “Ice Station Zebra”, The Martian Chronicles), a younger and more handsome figure. He quickly strikes up a relationship with a beautiful woman (Salome Jens – the Female Shapeshifter in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and seems to be living the dream, but appearances can be deceptive.

“Seconds” is a bit like an extended episode of The Twilight Zone, an intriguing and disorienting blend of “The Wicker Man”, “The Matrix” and “Coma”. Right from the start, Hamilton is visibly perturbed by the strange lead that his supposedly dead friend Charlie has passed him.

Eventually his friend’s persistence and Hamilton’s own inquisitiveness get the better of him, and he arrives at ‘The Company’ by a very circuitous route. There he learns the truth about Charlie’s disappearance, and the tantalising choice on offer to him. As the introductory agent of the mysterious firm, Jeff Corey (“True Grit”) plays a role that, 30 years later, he would revisit quite closely in Babylon 5 (as Justin, agent of the Shadows). He is a kind of smooth devil’s advocate, luring the unwary into his web with wondrous, tempting promises.

Hudson gives a fantastic, believable performance as Wilson, transitioning from bewildered apprehension, through withdrawn contemplation to unhinged waywardness. The audience warm to him despite his effective act of betrayal against his past family and friends. The irony of the actor later coming out as gay is not lost on the audience.

Of the other cast members, Will Greer is just as unnerving as Corey in his role as the founder of The Company, persuasive with a subtly threatening undertone. One thing it clear: this business can work near miracles but you had better not cross them. Home help John (Wesley Addy – “Network”) is there to guide Wilson but one never shakes the sense that he is also there to spy on him. Addy’s slightly creepy performance underlines the background menace.

Throw in an exceedingly on-edge opening titles sequence featuring a warping face and a frightening theme tune by Jerry Goldsmith (Star Trek: The Next Generation), and an ending that will definitely chill you to the bone, and you have a movie that gets right under your skin (pun intended). Brilliant!

Special features include:

  • Restoration from a 4K transfer, in 1080p HD on the Blu-ray
  • Two feature-length audio commentaries: one by director John Frankenheimer, and one by film scholar Adrian Martin
  • New video interview with novelist and critic Kim Newman
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hearing-impaired
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Booklet featuring new essays by critics David Cairns and Mike Sutton

The black and white cinematography by James Wong Howe (“Hud”) was nominated for an Oscar, and this new high-res presentation looks sumptuous. Finally, look out for a quite bizarre naked wine-making scene!

“Seconds” (1966) is out now on dual-format DVD and Blu-ray (two discs), courtesy of Eureka Entertainment Ltd. The main feature has a running time of 107 minutes approx, carries a '15' certificate and retails for £17.95, or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 28 October 2015 16:44

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