Palestinian terrorists attempt to wipe out a Super Bowl crowd in this 1976 thriller directed by John Frankenheimer (Seconds). Frankenheimer's unique facility with action--the unusual breadth of his view of violence, which ... more »stresses sustained drama over escalating thrills--makes this taut movie engrossing from start to finish. The lengthy cat-and-mouse stuff during the big game--much of which was shot at a real Super Bowl--is quite exciting. --Tom Keogh« less
"John Frankenheimer is an excellent action director. In Black Sunday he directs a thrilling story of terrorists trying to blow up the Superbowl with a blimp full of lethal darts. Bruce Dern is great as the bitter blimp pilot who throws his lot with Martha Keller, a Palistinian, who just barely keeps Dern from cracking up. Robert Shaw is excellent as the Iraeli agent tracking down the villians, from the first roots in the Middle East, leading eventually to America, and terminating in a showdown at the Superbowl.The action is good and the actors are well directed by Frankenheimer, who of course did the immortal "Manchurian Candidate," and pilots this action film to a smashing climax. Even after first seeing this movie, I am still haunted by Dern's sad portrait of a broken man and the horrific experiment he performs on an unsuspecting man of his exploding darts that make hamburger out of the man posing for what he thinks is a strange camera. A good example of Frankenheimer's style and art of direction."
Action Movie that is still Timely
C. A. Luster | Burke, VA USA | 01/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Some movies show their age shortly after they were made. This is one that was written by Thomas Harris that is still timely. At the time it was fresh to the terrorist taking over the Olympics, but now it seems timely because of the activities in the Middle East. Robert Shaw and Bruce Dern especially turn in fine performances. The support cast is good as well. The music by John Williams is good as always. The addition of shots of the real Goodyear blimp and the Superbowl X game add to the believability. We even see Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staughbach, and the other real players for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys. During the scene where the people stampede, you may find yourself mooing. Fans of "Two Minute Warning" should love it. I bought this since it is still a good movie and the price is great. Not much in the way of extras, but excellent picture and sound quality."
Prophetic Thriller Rides High
oceandig | Boca Raton FL | 08/09/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I remember after this film was first released in the Seventies speaking with someone who saw it, and though they liked it, found it unbelievable. "I just don't picture a bunch of terrorists being able to come over to the US and get away with anything" the person said. Time has shown us how right director John Frankenheimer's film "Black Sunday" was, and that we truly lived in a "sleeping America".From the almost documentary-like opening title sequence, devoid of music and replete with the sounds of a foreign land, this suspense epic builds slowly and with unique conviction. The terrorists are all played realistically and no one goes overboard into the realm of ham. Shaw is gritty and and steel-eyed as he works against the clock to stop the plot.Bruce Dern plays an ex-Vietnam helicopter vet hired by the terrorists to aid them in their plot to explode a uniquely devasting bomb at the Super Bowl. He is at his psychotic best, and one scene, late in the film, is particularly intense as we watch him break down before the camera and reveal just how deeply distrubed he truly is. The score by John Williams is one of his best, using a simple 8 note motif that is introduced early in the film with piano and flute, and by the film's climax, is heard in thudering orchestral glory.This is suspense thriller with a brain, so don't expect wild action from scene one. It builds slowly, with sporadic action scenes interspersed, as it aims toward it's climx at the big game.Ironically, the film's achilles heel are it's special effects near the film's end. Cinematographer John Alonzo was alowed to handle the effects shots and later, the director had to redo most of them at the last minute. The result is that by today's standards, the film falls short of being totally convincing in several scenes. Nevertheless, the editing is wonderful, the score huge, the acting great, and the story intriguing. It more than makes up for a few of those shots.Seekers of intelligent thrillers will not be let down.Sunday will never be the same."
colin costello | barrington, il United States | 07/07/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Black Sunday is a prime example of great seventies movie making. Thomas Harris(Silence of the lambs, red dragon) gave John Frankenheimer a lot of meat Here, we are introduced to real characters. Who have real dilemmas. Bruce Dern is haunting as Lander -- a pilot who is pushed(some by his own doing) into insanity. Marthe Keller is wonderful as a terrorist who wants to see the "mission" through. And Robert Shaw. Robert Shaw. Boy do I miss him. Scenes where he is absolutely outstanding: questioning an importer, asking a favor from another terrorist, and of course the ending. Man I wish they would re-make this. But they would probably screw it up. The aerial photography is some of the best put on celluloid. And John Williams' score is awesome. See Black Sunday."
What if a blimp with a bomb tried to crash the Super Bowl?
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 07/30/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For years the 1977 film "Black Sunday" was seen as being prophetic with regards to Super Bowl Sunday becoming a national obsession. But twenty-five years later it is the element of the terrorist attack that is seen as being prescient. If anything the story of this film is more powerful today, even if the special effects are less than special, even by the standard of the times.The story is based on the novel by Thomas Harris, his first work, now note worthy because it is the author's only work not involving Hannibal Lecter. Mike Lander (Bruce Dern) is a psychotic Vietnam vet who spent six years being tortured as a POW and who now joins up with Dahlia Iyad (Marthe Keller), a member of the Palestinian terrorist organization Black September in a plan to detonate a bomb at the Super Bowl. If for some reason you have never seen the film the poster art of a dirigible appearing over the top of the football stadium gives away how they plan to accomplish this task. Because a Palestinian is involved the person trying to stop the plot is Israeli agent David Kabokov (Robert Shaw), who knows full well the dangers of trying to stop people who are willing to die to accomplish their goal. He is also a man tired of living in a world where nothing ever changes and all the deaths he has seen and caused mean nothing.The hero and villain are men twisted by their lives in different directions and it is these characters that try to make "Black Sunday" more than thriller and it is their personal conflict that helps to sustain the film when we get to the big finish and things go a bit over the top. But up to that point it is a pretty solid thriller. The film is directed by John Frankenheimer, who already had life imitate art with "The Manchurian Candidate," which was shelved for decades following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Frankenheimer was pretty good at establishing tension and milking the dramatic moments of the film. The music is by John Williams, two years after "Jaws" at that point in his distinguished career. The game being played in the film is Superbowl X, where the Pittsburgh Steeler beat the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 (the blimp scene was filmed at the Orange Bowl the day before the game). One special treat of this film is that "The Star Spangled Banner" before the game was sung by Tom Sullivan (accompanied by Up With People), and whose memorable final high note is preserved for posterity. Appearing as themselves in the film are broadcasters Pat Summerall and Tommy Brookshier, and you will recognize Terry Bradshaw and some other players from both teams. Then there is Miami Dolphins' owner Joe Robbie who gets to speak the immortal line: "Cancel the Super Bowl? That's like canceling Christmas!""