Black Sunday (1977)

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BLACK SUNDAY—vivid, exciting action thriller from director John Frankenheimer in 1977. A group of fanatical terrorists (as opposed to the thoughtful kind) plot to share the agony of the Palestinian refugees with the insouciant citizens of these United States by ramming the Goodyear Blimp into the Super Bowl and blowing it up, blasting the crowd with 80,000 steel darts (trumping any halftime show for the foreseeable future).

Cool and sexy Marthe Keller and psycho-to-the-max Bruce Dern are the bad guys, with Robert Shaw the relentless Israeli agent on their trail. Everyone in the cast is good, but Dern really draws blood: along with The Cowboys, it’s one of his tip-top freakouts.$(KGrHqF,!okE8(53tk6qBPL!OjeDhw--60_35black-31

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Tight direction, well produced, all laudable technical credits wrapping around a perceptive screenplay, packed with bloody and exciting chases, commando raids and gun battles, all leading up to the spectacular finish. It’s longish at 143 minutes, but polished as a crowd salivator.

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It did well, making nearly $16,000,000, but fell short of expectations (producer Robert Evans thought it would be the next Jaws), possibly because it was beaten to the punch by Two-Minute Warning and was banned in Germany and Japan.

Today, after 2001, and then the assorted brutal Israeli assaults on Gaza, the movie’s sympathies would no doubt be shifted around, trying to accommodate audiences ever-confused by official narratives of who is to be feared and what for.  With Fritz Weaver, Steven Keats, Bekim Fehmiu (finally working again after The Adventurers–“hey, Dax!”), Michael V. Gazzo, William Daniels, Walter Gotell, Victor Campos, Walter Brooke, Clyde Kusatsu.

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