Black Sunday (1977)

As one of the foremost script consultant’s in the UK I’ve mentioned in a previous blogpost my love for B Movies that sometimes don’t work. With that in mind, I watched Black Sunday (1977) this week, but this film isn’t a B Movie, far from it—even if a lot of the time it plays like one. 

The crackers, and hugely unlikely story is based on some fact – it looks at a terrorist organisation, attempting to cause harm and panic at a large scale sporting event in the USA, with the Munich Olympics still fresh in the public memory when this film was made. But, the way the attack is to be staged is a bit ‘outlandish’.  What the baddies plan to do, is to use the ‘Goodyear blimp’, modified to be heavily armed to kill thousands watching the Super Bowl.

So, okay, the ‘Goodyear blimp’ is basically an airship, it’s famous, iconic and appears in many films, and of course it’s seen at sporting events.  But anyone with a shred of common sense will tell you that an airship, is slow moving, a huge target and difficult to navigate at the best of times (never mind in windy weather). That’s why airships aren’t really popular as a form of transport (essentially, they’re rubbish!).

So, this outlandish plot is hatched, and we follow the good guys as they try to find out what is happening and how to stop it. The good guys are essentially Robert Shaw (a great actor), the bad guys are a wired and whiny Bruce Dern, and pretty but deadly Marthe Keller (from Marathon Man)

Apart from the actual idea for the attack (which is ludicrous) there is actually some pretty serious stuff in here, and it can’t be a B movie with the talent attached (can it?) Producer Robert Evans, director John Frankenheimer, writers Thomas Harris, Ernest Lehman and Kenneth Ross. These are top draw serious people; surely they knew the end scenes would look ludicrous?

Anyway, the film is entertaining and has some impressive scenes (including some really great suspense scenes with the actors at a real American Football match) but ultimately the end (while entertaining) is laughable, and undoes any sense of reality in the film.  It becomes an Irwin Allen, but even Irwin would do better than this!

Matthew Cooper has been a scriptwriter for hire, UK Script editor  and UK script consultant for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award-winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. His UK script coverage service, Script reading service and script development service are highly sought after.

You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb.

His directorial debut, the rubber reality horror thriller Markham was released in 2020. You can find out more about Matthew’s work as a director here.