John Frankenheimer: Emmys, enthusiasm, and energy

Film director John Frankenheimer was often at odds with Hollywood producers because he insisted on making movies for artistic rather than commercial reasons. But, as Arts columnist Brian Brennan reports, he later found his niche in television.  An excerpt of Brennan’s Brief Encounters column, Bucking Hollywood’s Commercial Trend: John Frankenheimer:

Publicity photo via Wikipedia
Publicity photo via Wikipedia

The movie was called The Fourth War. It took its title from Albert Einstein, who said he didn’t know how a third World War would be fought, or with what. “I can, however, predict that the fourth World War will be waged with sticks and stones.”

John Frankenheimer, the movie’s director, wasn’t happy with the title. Neither was his star, Roy Scheider. Both were anti-war advocates. “What we’re trying to show, without hitting people on the head – boom, boom, boom – is that war is an unthinkable alternative,” said Frankenheimer. “We’re sick of it. The Russians are sick of it. The people who wage war now are the lunatic fringe.”

The year was 1989. The Cold War was thawing and a spirit of glasnost was prevailing. Alternative titles being discussed by Frankenheimer and Scheider were Game of Honor and Face Off.

The movie, being shot in the Canadian Rockies near the site of the 1988 Winter Olympics, was set on the border between West Germany and Czechoslovakia. Scheider played a trigger-happy American army colonel who harboured a grudge against the Soviets. … log in to read Bucking Hollywood’s Commercial Trend: John Frankenheimer (subscription needed*)

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