THE FRANKENHEIMER ZOMBIE Image

THE FRANKENHEIMER ZOMBIE

By admin | February 21, 2006

For years, George Romero has taught us that zombies live.  And oh, how I wish for a certain zombie.  Two, actually.

In July 2004, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Roland Emmerich was not only eyeing a new project, but had commissioned a script from Jeffrey Nachmanoff, the infamous writer of “”The Day After Tomorrow.”  Because of wolves aboard a frozen Russian cargo ship and a freezing tidal wave surging through New York City, I didn’t believe he was the best mind to handle a political thriller.  I still don’t. 

This political thriller, entitled “”One Nation” (formerly “Anthem”), has a subplot I’d enjoy immensely, just like I did when Perry King’s President Blake in “”The Day After Tomorrow” died off screen, replaced with Kenneth Walsh’s Vice President Becker.  I like watching and reading about fictional presidents.  We’ve never had a blind president (the book, “”Full Disclosure”), black president (the book, “”The Man” or its movie, and “”24″), or a president handling a nuclear crisis, thankfully (President Robert Fowler in “”The Sum of All Fears”).  Nor have we seen in our time a Speaker of the House temporarily replace a president who felt he could not carry out his duties (“”The West Wing”, where the biggest surprise at the end of the fourth season was the appearance of John Goodman as Speaker Glenallen Walken).  The question that always keeps me fascinated with fictional presidents is, “”What if?”  What if we had a blind president?  What if we had a president as weak as Charles Logan (Gregory Itzin), currently having trouble in his own administration on the new season of “”24″?  What if we had Harrison Ford continuously playing James Marshall? 

“”One Nation” has an admittedly new take on fictional presidents.  The president in this forthcoming film (on hold for now since Emmerich has decided to first direct cavemen in “”10,000 B.C.”) is impeached, but refuses to leave the White House while, according to the Hollywood Reporter article, “””¦an FBI agent is rushing to discover the truth behind a top-level conspiracy that threatens to undermine the Constitution.”  Now, we backtrack to a few weeks ago. 

Once in a while, I’m seized by a certain actor or director enough to watch their movies chronologically.  After recently reading Norman Jewison’s autobiography, I started with his first film, “”40 Pounds of Trouble” and through Netflix, I’ll eventually tackle the rest.  Besides Jewison, I’ve been chronologically watching Burt Lancaster’s films for research I’m doing.  About two weeks ago, “”Seven Days in May” arrived from Netflix.  John Frankenheimer.  Rod Serling.  Lancaster.  Kirk Douglas.  Frederic March plays President Jordan Lyman whom many have noted looks similar to Lyndon Johnson.  At the start, the country is not pleased with his decision to enact an arms treaty with the Soviet Union that will reduce the number of weapons each country has.   General James Mattoon Scott, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs (Lancaster) is livid at this proposal, believing that just when the U.S. is busying itself with destroying some of its weaponry, the Soviet Union will not only keep what it has, but use it to fire upon the U.S. and become the dominant force in the world.  Colonel Martin “˜Jiggs’ Casey (Douglas) is second to Scott, and finds out through a gossipy underling that the General is planning to take part in a Preakness betting pool, happening next Sunday.  An innocent horse race with big stakes.  Those stakes turn out to be higher as the Preakness is only a cover for Scott’s ultimate plan:  To seize power and take over the country with a military government, thereby not only dissolving the treaty but also forcing Lyman from office. 

Casey carefully follows the clues, becoming more alarmed by what he finds, intent on stopping the plot and it’s through the masterly direction of John Frankenheimer that you get a few twists in your gut while watching this.  After it was over, and I was taken aback by what had turned out to be not only a great detective story, but also an unsettling suspense thriller, I got to thinking about “”One Nation” and George Romero.  According to Mr. Romero, zombies live.  Always have.  So here’s what I propose:

We need to bring old talent back to today’s industry.  It has to start with “”One Nation.” Emmerich and Nachmanoff?  You’ll only get mild excitement and badly scripted lines.  I could easily imagine one scene where Frankenheimer uses a low-angle shot on the disgraced president in the White House with the camera slowly rising up as he walks toward the camera, symbolizing disappearing power, and the camera spins to his other side as he walks away, now with a high-angle shot of the man not in charge.  And could you imagine this film written by Rod Serling?  Jesus.  It would be one of the greatest reunion pairings in the history of the movies!  And we’ll let Lancaster rest, and Douglas has earned his after a decades-long career.  New actors would be preferable. 

So now I appeal to anyone twisted enough or with enough free time to respond.  We’d first need to see the condition of any bones left of Messrs. Frankenheimer and Serling.  For Serling, all we might have is dust and dirt.  Frankenheimer might be a decomposed skeleton that won’t become dust for years.  Now I know that with zombies, they rise up as the bodies they once were.  But we need new technology.  Frankenheimer will most likely not be able to look the same, so we’ll need fresh dead bodies and the capability of inserting Frankenheimer’s DNA or anything else that could help, into this body, in the hopes that the body would take on the mind of Frankenheimer and be able to direct this movie.  Or if Frankenheimer’s body has not decomposed to the point of being unrecognizable, could we still use it?  With Serling, certainly we’ll need a new body. 

This is why I didn’t do so well in my science classes.  I’m not always a fanatic of logic.  While we’re at it, let’s resurrect a few more souls to continue working in Hollywood.  Don’t know who, don’t know how, don’t know in what capacity, but someone should create new technology for this freakish purpose.  It would make the industry a hell of a lot more fun to watch! 

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