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USA 1977
Directed by
John Frankenheimer
143 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Black Sunday

Although now largely forgetten John Frankenheimer's film is a tip-top espionage/terrorist thriller based on the novel by Thomas "Silence of The Lambs"Harris. Although the dialogue is often wooden, some of the editing is a bit dodgy and the whole thing looks very 70s, this is still a gripping ride and an impressive technical feat, particularly the climactic finale which takes place in the heart of mainstream America, the Super Bowl (a strategy of course that would be revisited by Al Queda with 9/11).

The plot involves 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. Israeli commando David Kabakov (Robert Shaw) discovers the plot, masterminded by Dahlia Iyad (Marthe Keller) with the help of deranged Vietnam veteran Michael J. Lander (Bruce Dern)

As action films go Black Sunday is in terms of suspense if not technical execution as good as virtually anything that has followed in its wake. Interestingly, it also attempts to give some insight into the personal motivation of people who commit terrorist acts. Bruce Dern is excellent as the flaky Vietnam vet, ably assisted by Martha Keller and more questionably, by Robert Shaw whose character doesn't get a chance to emerge for all the running and jumping he is required to do.




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