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Monday, February 13, 2017

Two Minute Warning (1976)

A sniper (Warren Miller) hides himself in a tower in the Los Angeles Coliseum on the day of a big football championship. When he is spotted from the air, an L.A. police captain (Charlton Heston) and a SWAT leader (John Cassavetes) frantically attempt to capture the assassin before he fires on the 90,000 plus crowd. Directed by Larry Peerce (GOODBYE COLUMBUS), this has the usual TV look of Universal's films from the 1970s despite being filmed in wide screen Panavision. I suppose the film fits into the so called "disaster" genre started by AIRPORT at the beginning of the decade but I find it more of a thriller than a "disaster" film. Remarkably, Peerce is able to maintain a high level of tension right from the beginning with very little down time. The final sequence with random shooting and the massive crowd panicking is superbly done and whoever supervised the stunt work (as well as the background actors) is to be congratulated. Most of the supporting cast aren't given substantial roles and there's very little they can do. Of the cast, only Gena Rowlands and David Janssen as an unmarried couple manage to bring some depth to their roles. With Walter Pidgeon, Beau Bridges, Martin Balsam, Jack Klugman, Marilyn Hassett, Brock Peters and Pamela Bellwood. When the film was first show for TV, it was considered too violent and 45 minutes were removed and 40 minutes of newly shot footage with Rossano Brazzi, Joanna Pettet and James Olson were inserted which changed the basic premise.

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