Super Bowl Alternative: The “Other” BLACK SUNDAY (Paramount 1977)


My New England Patriots aren’t in this year’s big game, and I can’t stand that big-headed Peyton Manning, so my interest in tonight’s Super Bowl is minimal. And the halftime show does nothing for me: Coldplay is probably one of my least favorite bands (Beyoncé’s OK, though). So if like me, you’re not planning on spending much time watching Roger Goodell’s season-ending spectacular (can’t stand Goodell, either) may I suggest an alternative, namely John Frankenheimer’s thriller BLACK SUNDAY.


No, it’s not the 1960 Barbara Steele/Mario Bava horror classic, this BLACK SUNDAY is a rousing political thriller about terrorist organization Black September plotting a strike against America at the biggest game of them all, the Super Bowl. Beautiful but deadly terrorist Dahlia (Marthe Keller) has recruited the bitter, unstable blimp pilot Michael Lander (Bruce Dern at his 70’s psycho best) to turn the blimp into the ultimate suicide bomb, with plastique explosives setting off thousands of steel flechettes into the unsuspecting crowd. Isreali agents Kabakov (Robert Shaw) and Moshevsky (Steven Keats) race against time to foil the fiendish plot and stop Dahlia from enacting her mad scheme.


BLACK SUNDAY was made at the height of the “disaster film” craze, though it’s really more in Frankenheimer’s political thriller wheelhouse. The director knew the territory well, as he’d previously done classics like THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE and SEVEN DAYS IN MAY. The screenplay’s based on a novel by Thomas Harris, long before his success with a character named Hannibal Lecter in a book called SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. John Williams adds another stirring score to his list of credits that include the same year’s STAR WARS.


The cast is rounded out by domestic and international veterans such as Fritz Weaver, William Daniels, Michael V. Gazzo (THE GODFATHER PT 2), Bekim Fehmiu (THE ADVENTURERS), Walter Brooke (THE GRADUATE), Walter Gotell (General Gogol in the James Bond series), and Victor Campos (SCARFACE). BLACK SUNDAY was given access to shoot at Super Bowl X (Pittsburgh vs Dallas), and use of the Goodyear Blimp. Miami Dolphins (then) owner Joe Robbie and broadcasters Pat Summerall and Tom Brooksheir make cameo appearences. So now you’ve got a football alternative for tonight. As for me, I’m eagerly awaiting spring training! GO RED SOX!!

Here’s the trailer for BLACK SUNDAY:

3 Replies to “Super Bowl Alternative: The “Other” BLACK SUNDAY (Paramount 1977)”

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