Biography of John Frankenheimer (1930-2002)

American filmmaker born on February 19, 1930 in Melba (Long Island, New York) and died on July 6, 2002, in Los Angeles.


He began his studies in the Williams College of Williamstown (Massachessetts). From a very young began to work in television, where he held various functions that were giving you the experience needed to become a filmmaker. It should be noted in this regard that in the mid-1950s burst with force in the cinematographic field a generation of Directors coming from television, as it is the case of Martin Ritt, Sidney Lumet, Robert Mulligan or John Frankenheimer, who had gained experience working for the small screen, a means despised by intellectuals and critics that however there was a notable breeding ground for series productiontheatrical adaptations and telefilms. Many of them actually made the leap to film hired aiming to repeat large scale previous television hits, as happened in the case of the own Frankenheimer with his debut in the field of the feature film, The Young Stranger (1957), adaptation of a dramatic program which captivated the audience in 1955. The motion picture would retain much of the television elements, including the actor James MacArthur, as well as a plot based on the eternal generational conflicts between parents and children.

Initial problems of adaptation is fundamentally confined to the handling of the camera and their mobility: front rigid conceptions of some operators film, this new generation of Directors imposed a flexibility, a tendency to move in space greatly reduced, as well as a type of framing and scale of planes however willingly admitted on television. Now, some of them like Frankenheimer took to be accepted by the film industry.

The young savages, produced four years after his official debut as film director, contributed to their settlement through captivating analysis carried out on juvenile crime in New York, an issue that worried middle-aged people and interested many teens. This film would also designate the beginning of a long and fruitful association with the actor Burt Lancaster, who financed him with his next work: man of Alcatraz (1962), while his own hell, a production of the same year, came to reinforce his known masters in the description of problems affecting the youth of the time, victim of a crisis of values and fascinated by psychedeliadrugs and free love.

The actress Angela Lansbury suggested him to analyze with detail maternal possessiveness compared the struggle of children to free themselves of this influence. Thus arises the Messenger of fear (1962), one of the titles of greater fame in the career of Frankenheimer that narrates in tone from satirical nightmare a group conspiracy to take over the White House as a method of personal self-affirmation. The political thriller, one of the authentic specialties of Frankenheimer, had crossed on their way with this film, and another less sarcastic and critical online would arise seven days in May (1964) about an attempted military coup in the United States, or diabolical Plan (1966), futuristic vision around a consumer society where anyone can buy their identity.

Grand Prix (1966), one of his movies more fairly valued, allowed him to capture his fascination for the world of Motorsports and closed with a flourish, the first part of his career as a filmmaker. From that moment, overwhelmed by the success of his feature films, opted to develop near the melodramatic personal projects, as the man from Kiev or The Extraordinary Seaman (both 1968), would fail miserably at the box office.

The succession of business failures, continued in titles as I watch the road and the pride of lineage (both 1970), ended up putting him in a delicate position within the industry: once successful filmmaker seemed confusing and far from top form. As a result he began to accept bids from France, where he shot several forgettable titles like forbidden dreams (1972) or the failed sequel to French Connection (1975) set in the port of Marseille.

Classified as an effective Director of action movies and full of suspense, his career has been being sadly circumscribed to that territory, with occasional exceptions little achieved as damn prophecy (1979). Thus, the 1980s and 1990s have meant one almost specialization in such films, designed to the greater glory of the star turn, shaping his past proven talent to get a simple narrative efficiency close to the craft. In that sense, the island of doctor Moreau (1995), another small commercial disaster with the obese and inappropriate presence of Marlon Brando, was a turning point in a downward trend that seems to start to recover with Ronin (1998), filmed in her beloved France with Robert De Niro and Jean Reno, a shocking thriller vigorous pace.


1957: The Young Stranger. 1961: Wild youth. 1962: The man of Alcatraz; His own hell; The Messenger of fear. 1964: Seven days of May. 1965: The train. 1966: Diabolical; Grand Prix. 1967: The extraordinary seamen. 1968: The man from Kiev. 1969: Daredevils of the aire.1970: I watch the way; Pride of lineage. 1973: Forbidden dreams; The Iceman Cometh; 99,44% dead. 1974: French Connection, part 2. 1977: Black Sunday. 1979: Damn prophecy. 1980: Pursuit. 1982: The challenge of the samurai. 1985: The Covenant of Berlin. 1986: 52, lives or dies. 1989: Deadly shooting. 1990: The fourth war. 1991: The year of the weapons. 1994: Against the wall. 1996: The island of doctor Moreau. 1998: Ronin.