One of the most astute observers of the social and political scene of the early '60s, director John Frankenheimer built his early reputation on his unique ability to bridge the gap between television and Hollywood drama, old and new visual technologies, and the more personal Hollywood films of yesteryear and the cinema of faceless corporate modernity. Frankenheimer's virtuosity was on great display in his films of the early '60s, particularly The Manchurian Candidate and Seven Days in May, when he dazzled critics and audiences with his use of monochrome photography and Panavision technology. Unfortunately, the promise Frankenheimer exhibited in these films failed to pan out over the course of his later career and many of his subsequent films have been deemed unworthy successors to his early efforts.
Born in Malba, NY, on February 19, 1930, Frankenheimer was raised in Queens as the son of a German Jewish stockbroker father and an Irish mother. Originally aspiring to be a professional tennis player, Frankenheimer developed an interest in a filmmaking career while serving in the Air Force's Motion Picture Squadron. During the course of his service he learned fundamental filmmaking techniques and made his television directorial debut with a local Los Angeles show that was sponsored by a cattle ranch and featured, appropriately enough, live cows as its stars.