Director For Hire

Veteran filmmaker John Frankenheimer proudly defines himself as more craftsman than creator

"With [made-for-cable films], I think you're playing to a much more elite audience than you are with the general moviegoing public," the director says. "Cable attracts a certain intelligence level. I had no interest in television at all for years and years and years. I mean, I loved watching Masterpiece Theater and I loved watching the English stuff, and occasionally a network show. But very occasionally. My interest in television was mainly for sports. But with the advent of cable, I really started paying attention."

It's not hard to imagine some of Frankenheimer's finest titles getting turned away by today's studio readers. Never mind that Rod Serling's script for Seven Days in May is one of the finest seeds now sown on The X-Files and other conspiratorial pop fare. Or that the eerie Rock Hudson vehicle Seconds had Frankenheimer and screenwriter Lewis John Carlino conjuring a shadow industry that David Fincher would likely kill to get his hands (er, lens) on today. It's the lure of prescient, compelling screenplays like these that keep Frankenheimer invested in the business of feature films, eager to splash a few more stories onto the screen.

Running time: Director John Frankenheimer (with Ben Affleck, left) on the set
Running time: Director John Frankenheimer (with Ben Affleck, left) on the set

"As Montgomery Clift, who was a good friend of mine, said to me, he said, 'John, you work best on dirty paper.'"

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