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John Frankenheimer DIRECTOR


John Michael Frankenheimer was an American film and television producer. He is renowned for his riveting social dramas, questioning the themes ever present in every human life. With his over thirty feature films and one hundred and fifty plus television episodes, he began the modern day political thriller and physiological drama. All of his hard work earned him numerous award nominations and wins, including four Emmys and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films.

Frankenheimer was born in Melba, New York on February 30, 1930. He was raised in Queens, and after graduating from LaSalle Military Academy in 1947, enrolled at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. During his college stay, he developed a liking for acting, performing in the summer stock at the Highland Playhouse in Falmouth, Massachusetts. He also had a gig as assistant director on one TV series, “Lamp Unto My Feet” (1948). Upon graduation, Frankenheimer joined the Air Force and served in their film squadron, shooting documentaries. After leaving the Air Force in 1953, he decided to become a filmmaker.

He convinced CBS to allow him to be an assistant director, which meant he was mainly working on the cameras. Frankenheimer helped on series like “You Are There” (1953), “The Gary Moore Show” (1953-54), “Danger” (1954-55), “Climax!” (1955-56), and “Playhouse 90” (1956-60). He was additionally involved in the production of a few series and TV movies throughout his career. All through his television career, which predominantly ended after “Playhouse 90”, he was able to work with a great number of famous actors, not limited to Claudette Colbert, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Newman, and John Gielgud. The director was one of the major contributors of television’s Golden Age.

In 1957, Frankenheimer made his large screen debut with the courtroom drama “The Young Stranger”, which dealt with the social issues of the time. In 1961, he left the small screen, and worked mainly on major motion pictures, although there are some exceptions in his later career. “The Savages” (1961) was a moderate success, and this marked the director’s shift to devoting his time to making more feature films. Next came Frankenheimer’s arguably most notable and remembered pictures. “All Fall Down” (1962) was a family melodrama starring Warren Beatty and Eva Marie Saint. After was “Birdman of Alcatraz” (1962), the four Oscar nominated prison biopic of Robert Stroud that starred Burt Lancaster. The last, and probably most important, of the three was 1962’s “Manchurian Candidate”, which was a political suspense thriller that followed a Korean War veteran’s integration back into civilization. However, the U.S. hero had been secretly brainwashed by communists to assassinate a president nominee, and a friend (Frank Sinatra) began to discover that something was wrong. The Cold War era picture earned Frankenheimer an Academy Award nomination, as well as the satisfaction that his film would forever be cherished in the hearts of movie goers as a classic. With all of his success, the director founded his own production company, John Frankenheimer Productions, in 1963.  

Throughout the sixties, he continued to make important pictures. The Cold War thrillerSeven Days in May” (1964) and World War II action adventure “The Train” (1964), both starring Burt Lancaster, furthermore established the director as a major Hollywood force. However, following the failures of “Seconds” (1966) and “The Fixer” (1968), it was obvious that Frankenheimer’s success was on the decline. He directed a number of mediocre and not too popular pictures, such as “The Gypsy Moths” (1969), “The Horsemen” (1971), “The Iceman Cometh” (1973), and “French Connection II” (1975) before rejuvenating his luster with the action packed commercial success “Black Sunday” (1977). Unfortunately, it proved to be his final notable hit.

Throughout the eighties and nineties, the director’s work was nothing special, and movies like “The Holcroft Covenant” (1985), “Year of the Gun” (1991), and “The Island of Dr. Moreau” (1996) failed to win popular support. Starting in the eighties, Frankenheimer returned to television to try to win some of his shine back. For HBO, he directed the TV movies “Against the Wall” (1994) and “The Burning Season” (1994), both of which earned Emmys. He won another two Emmys with TNT’s “Andersonville” (1996) and “George Wallace” (1997). In 1998 he found some acclaim with his crime thriller “Ronin”, but immediately regressed with his final motion picture, “Reindeer Games” (2000), which starred Ben Affleck and Charlize Theron. The director graced the small screen yet again with HBO’s “Path to War” (2002), his very last Hollywood effort. Shortly following the announcement of Frankenheimer’s plans to direct the fourth chapter in the Exorcist film series, he was sent to the hospital for a spinal surgery. While he was expected to heal in time to shoot the movie, complications from the surgery caused him to have a stroke. It turned out to be fatal, and Frankenheimer died on July 6, 2002 at the age of seventy two.    

2006       The Butterfly Effect 2 

2002       Path to War 

2001       Ambush

2000       Reindeer Games

1999       The General's Daughter

1998       Ronin 

1997       George Wallace 

1996       The Island of Dr. Moreau 

1996       Andersonville 

1994       The Burning Season 

1994       Against the Wall 

1992       Tales from the Crypt 

1991       Year of the Gun 

1990       The Fourth War

1989       Dead Bang

1987       Riviera 

1986       52 Pick-Up

1985       The Holcroft Covenant

1982       The Rainmaker

1982       The Challenge

1979       Prophecy

1977       Black Sunday

1975       French Connection II

1974       99 and 44/100% Dead

1973       The Iceman Cometh

1973       Story of a Love Story

1971       The Horsemen

1970       I Walk the Line

1969       The Extraordinary Seaman

1969       The Gypsy Moths

1968       The Fixer

1966       Grand Prix

1966       Seconds

1964       The Train

1964       Seven Days in May

1962       The Manchurian Candidate

1962       Birdman of Alcatraz

1962       All Fall Down

1961       The Young Savages

1960       The Snows of Kilimanjaro 

1960       The Fifth Column

1959       Sunday Showcase

1959       The Turn of the Screw 

1959       Startime  

1959       The DuPont Show of the Month

1958       Studio One in Hollywood 

1957       The Young Stranger

1956       Playhouse 90

1956       The Ninth Day

1955       Climax!

1954       Danger 

1954       You Are There 

1953       Rod Brown of the Rocket Rangers

1953       Person to Person 

1953       The Garry Moore Show

1953       You Are There

1948       Lamp Unto My Feet         

Matinee Classics - All Fall Down starring Eva Marie Saint, Warren Beatty, Karl Malden, Angela Lansbury, Brandon de Wilde, Constance Ford, Albert Paulsen, Barbara Baxley, Evans Evans and Madame Spivy
Matinee Classics - Birdman of Alcatraz starring Burt Lancaster, Karl Malden, Thelma Ritter, Telly Savalas, Neville Brand, Edmond O'Brien and Whit Bissell
Matinee Classics - Seven Days in May starring Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric March, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien, Martin Balsam, Andrew Duggan, George Macready, Whit Bissell, Richard Anderson and Hugh Marlowe
Matinee Classics - Seconds starring Rock Hudson, Salome Jens, John Randolph, Will Geer, Jeff Corey, Richard Anderson, Murray Hamilton, Karl Swenson, Khigh Dhiegh, Frances Reid, Wesley Addy, John Lawrence, Elisabeth Fraser, Dodie Heath and Robert Brubaker

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