40th anniversay of the definitive Super Bowl film

Black Sunday poster

Black Sunday poster

Today is Super Bowl Sunday in the United States and this year marks the 40th anniversary of the definitive Super Bowl-related film, Black Sunday.

The John Frankenheimer-directed film was based on a Thomas Harris novel. The 1975 book was a hot property and Paramount snagged the film rights. It was Harris’ first novel and didn’t include Hannibal Lecter as a character.

The studio didn’t scrimp on the production. Besides hiring Frankheimer, the creative team, led by producer Robert Evans, included Ernest Lehman as one of three screenwriters and John Williams as composer. This would be Williams’ final score prior to the original Star Wars movie.

For the lead character, Evans & Co. cast Robert Shaw as an Israeli operative, Bruce Dern as a blimp pilot who becomes part of the terrorist plot and Marthe Keller as one of the terrorists.

The plot concerned Isrealis, working with American law enforcement officials clashing with Middle Eastern terrorists, who have targeted the Super Bowl, the championship game for the National Football League.

Harris’ novel used New Orleans’ Tulane Stadium (site of the 1975 Super Bowl) as a location. Frankheimer’s film utilized Miami’s Orange Bowl, site of the 1976 game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys.

The film crew worked as the game was 1976 played, with real life CBS announcers Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier making an appearance.

The movie came out in the spring of 1977. It generated a modest $15.8 million box office in the United States, according to Box Office Mojo.

Here’s the trailer of the movie:

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