Monday, May 19, 2008

Neglected Film: Frantic

With the fourth Indiana Jones movie coming out (I've already decided to go to the midnight show on Wednesday night) I thought I would highlight one of Harrison Ford's most underrated films.

After Ford received an Oscar nomination for 1985's Witness it seemed that he was trying to repeat that success by taking roles that screamed, "give me another nomination." There were fantastic films during this period, such as Presumed Innocent and The Mosquito Coast along with pretty mediocre fare like Regarding Henry (a film that proves that J.J. Abrams, who wrote the screenplay, is a complete hack). Despite Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989, Ford shunned the audience pleasers that made his career until it seems he just said "fuck it" and became Jack Ryan in 1992's Patriot Games, signifying an end to his quest for Oscar. But between 1985 and 1992, Ford went to work with some of the greatest film directors working at the time. Mike Nichols, Peter Weir, Alan J. Pakula; and in 1988, Roman Polanski with Frantic.

The movie is a modern Hitchcock tale. You have the unsuspecting hero out of his element, the MacGuffin, the twists and turns, etc. Ford plays an American doctor vacationing with his wife (Betty Buckley) in Paris. Within hours of landing in France, Buckley is kidnapped and Ford finds himself mixed up with international terrorists. It seems his wife picked up the wrong suitcase at the airport. Soon the American doctor joins up with the only person who can help him, a beautiful smuggler (Emmanuelle Seigner) who brought the MacGuffin from the United States.

An interesting aspect of the film is that it is from the American's point of view, but directed by a European, which gives the movie a more European feel. Though it was probably unintentional, the effect can be very scrambling, immitating the confusion Ford's character feels.

The film received moderately good reviews, however they were very mixed. And it never found any appreciation with moviegoers.

And, as always, I send out an open meme to everyone to write about a neglected film. If you do one, let me know and I'll link it here.

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