This is the main event and there are no second chances? In director John Frankenheimer’s world the fact that there are is almost incidental what’s important is what this shows about the first chance. Do we simply search for what we’re told is important and what does it take to shake us from a pre-determined course with built in mortgage debt and career traps?
Even though Arthur Hamilton (John Randolph) has been a success – well advanced in banking, fine wife, lovely home intelligent and motivated daughter… he still wants more and his life feels hollow after the struggles of career and parenthood appear to have been won. As Peggy Lee sang: Is that all there is?
Arthur already lives in a daze his position in the bank having everything but a challenge and his home life sterile and repetitive – his wife Emily (Frances Reid) tries to connect but he’s too distracted by his own absence.
|An offer he can't refuse?|
|One pill makes you larger...|
|Awake to a new face...|
Up to this point the acting has been excellent but Rock Hudson gives something else: he is bemused and as subdued as Arthur and even looks as tired and over-mannered. He restricts his expression and changes his gait in a superbly well-observed performance – if there were any better in 1966 I’d be surprised.
|Rock and Salome Jens|
Nora is the woman he might have thought he wanted Emily to be and she starts to losen his self-imposed shackles. The couple attend a “happening” at a winery and Tony finally lets his hair (and pants) down as they jump into a giant vat to trample grapes with dozens of hippies… does this kind of thing still go on?
|Adjusting to new youth|
The men from the company find Tony and as they take him back he resolves to ask for another chance. This is where things begin to get complicated; he must supply another volunteer in the way that Charlie had done but he can’t or won’t “sponsor” anyone.
|A visit to the old home...|
|One more try?|
The film has just been released on dual format by Eureka as part of their Masters of Cinema series - quite right too. It is available from all the usual places but be prepared to be unsettled...