Black Sunday (1977)

black sunday poster 1977 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 7/10

Made scarier by 9-11, nice acting

Sketchy visuals, a little slow to get going

Movie Info

Movie Name: Black Sunday

Studio: Paramount Pictures

Genre(s): Action/Adventure/Mystery/Suspense/Sports

Release Date(s): March 11, 1977

MPAA Rating: R


Well, you don’t see that everyday!

It is the Super Bowl X and the Pittsburgh Steelers are facing off against the Dallas Cowboys in the Miami Orange Bowl.  Above them there is a danger that could kill everyone in the stadium, including the President of the United States.  A terrorist group called Black September has loaded the Goodyear Blimp with a scatter bomb to rain down upon the spectators because of the U. S.’s involvement with Israel and only a Mossad agent named David Kabakov (Robert Shaw) and FBI agent Sam Corley (Fritz Weaver) can stop terrorist Dahlia Iyad (Marthe Keller) and a Vietnam vet named Michael Lander (Bruce Dern) from doing it.

Black Sunday was directed by John Frankenheimer, produced by Robert Evans, and based on a novel by Thomas Harris (who later when on to write Silence of the Lambs).  The movie was met with high expectations, received positive reviews from critics and fans, but wasn’t the blockbuster that it was hoped to be.


Candy-gram…of death!

The movie is a strange movie to watch in a post-9/11 world.  I had seen it before, but now after the fall of the towers and the attack on the Pentagon, it feels more real and dangerous.  This is partially because most of the loopholes found by the terrorists seem like legitimate loopholes that could happen.  It is plotted, planned, and executed with only a few mistakes tripping things up.  It is unfortunate that all the visuals have not held up well.

The movie is a bit slow at the get-go with the build-up to the Super Bowl portion (which is the best part).  The assassination attempt scene in the hospital was one bright early point and was referenced by Quentin Tarantino in Kill Bill where Daryl Hannah attempted a similar feat.  Once the day of the Super Bowl arrives, the movie really picks up speed and becomes very tense.  It is a bit sick, but I wish the bomb had gone off over something other than water (it didn’t have to be people) because the scene where the scatter bomb was tested was cool and it would have been neat to see it done on a larger scale.


You bomb makes everything like a giant Lite-Brite!

Robert Shaw continues to be a chameleon of an actor who always seems to be completely in character.  Bruce Dern also does a good job as a Vietnam vet struggling with the changes in his life and in 1977 this was still a relatively new subject to tackle.  The film doesn’t go very sympathetic by turning Dern into a complete villain and you lose all sympathy for him by plotting an attack against innocents (even if the President is one of the targets).

Black Sunday is a seldom seen but decent thriller.  If you’ve never seen it, check it out and if you have seen it, see it since 9-11…it changes the whole perspective of the movie.  In 1977, an attack on that scale seems so unlikely, but in today’s world something like that has been done and is possible.  This brings Black Sunday to a whole new level of terror that feels quite real and possible in today’s world.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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