John Michael Frankenheimer was an American film and television director known for social dramas and action/suspense films. Among his credits were Birdman of Alcatraz, The Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days in May, The Train, Seconds, Grand Prix, French Connection II, Black Sunday, and Ronin.
Frankenheimer won four Emmy Awards for directing the television movies Against the Wall, The Burning Season, Andersonville, and George Wallace, the latter of which also received a Golden Globe Award for Best mini series or television film. He was considered one of the last remaining directors who insisted on having complete control over all elements of production, making his style unique in Hollywood.
Frankenheimer's 30 feature films and over 50 plays for television were notable for their influence on contemporary thought. He became a pioneer of the "modern-day political thriller," having begun his career at the peak of the Cold War.
Frankenheimer wanted someone who didn’t have much of an opinion.
Motor Sportscaster | August 2016
From all accounts, Frankenheimer wasn’t one to suffer fools gladly or otherwise and got things done through sheer force of will. He insisted on realism and, as such, refused merely to borrow cars, have them tootle around a track and speed up the footage later. Legend has it, perhaps apocryphally so, that he had hoped to field his own Formula 1 team, shooting exterior and in-car footage at each round of the ’66 championship.
Frankenheimer recalled: “When I look back, I don’t know how the hell we ever did that film. We were always shooting, usually where we weren’t wanted, and usually with everything out of our control. But we just had to get those crowds.”