May 16, 1988 article
LOVELL: A lot of people refer to John Frankenheimer in the past tense -- their way of suggesting that the erstwhile boy wonder of the golden age of television and such cold-sweat classics as "The Manchurian Candidate" has lost his distinctive touch. Don't tell Frankenheimer this. At 61, he remains not just active but obsessed with staying active. His 26th feature, a political thriller called "Year of the Gun," opens nationwide on Friday. It's his fifth film in as many years. Frankenheimer may not be synonymous with big box-office these days, but no one can accuse his recent "52 Pick-Up" with Roy Scheider and "Dead-Bang" with Don Johnson of being boring or safe. They fairly crackle with electricity; they ooze Frankenheimer's love of the dark and perverse. Retirement?
FRANKENHEIMER: "I'm never going to retire," he booms over the phone from his Malibu office. "I'm much too young to think about it now. I think I've made some pretty decent films in the '80s and '90s. I think that `The Fourth War' (a 1990 Cold War thriller caught in the thaw) came out at the wrong time. We had no idea world events would pass us by."
LOVELL: Besides, the man who has played upon our innate paranoia -- with everything from "Seven Days in May" to "Black Sunday" -- is back in vogue now.You discovered Thomas Harris ("Silence of the Lambs") way back in '77, when you directed Bruce Dern in an adaptation of Harris' terrorist best-seller "Black Sunday." You've described that experience as the most frustrating period of your life.
FRANKENHEIMER: Funny, I've never gotten better reviews than I got for "Black Sunday." Paramount did a brilliant job of promoting it, and the picture did all right. But it didn't perform to everybody's expectations, which was that it would be bigger than "Jaws." It came at the end of the disaster-movie cycle.. . . We just came out at the wrong time."
LOVELL: On a personal level you've said it was devastating.
FRANKENHEIMER: When "Black Sunday" didn't hit big, it told me that the movie god was not smiling on me that year. There was a lot of disappointment and depression, and I started drinking -- heavily. Then 10 years ago I entered a recovery program, and I've been fine since. I'm damn proud of that.