Frantic (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Frantic (movie poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRoman Polanski
Written by
Produced by
CinematographyWitold Sobociński
Edited bySam O'Steen
Music byEnnio Morricone
Warner Bros.
The Mount Company
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release dates
  • February 16, 1988 (1988-02-16) (United Kingdom)
  • February 26, 1988 (1988-02-26) (United States)
  • March 30, 1988 (1988-03-30) (France)
Running time
120 minutes
  • United States
  • France
  • English
  • French
Budget$20 million
Box office$17.6 million (US)[1]

Frantic is a 1988 American-French neo-noir[2] mystery thriller film directed by Roman Polanski and starring Harrison Ford and Emmanuelle Seigner. The film score is by Ennio Morricone.


Dr. Richard Walker (Harrison Ford) is a surgeon visiting Paris with his wife Sondra (Betty Buckley) for a medical conference. At their hotel, she is unable to unlock her suitcase, and Walker determines that she picked up the wrong one at the airport. While Walker is taking a shower, Sondra receives a phone call that Walker can't hear and she mysteriously disappears from their hotel room.

Still jet-lagged, Walker searches for his wife in the hotel with the help of a polite but mostly indifferent staff and then wanders outside to look for her himself. A wino overhears him in a café and says he saw Sondra being forced into a car in a nearby alley. Walker is skeptical, until he finds his wife's ID bracelet on the cobblestones. He contacts the Paris police and the U.S. Embassy, but their responses are bureaucratic, and there is little hope anyone will bother looking for her. As Walker carries on the search himself he stumbles onto a murder site where he encounters the streetwise young Michelle, who mistook Sondra's suitcase for her own at the airport. He realises that Michelle is a career drug smuggler, but does not care or know for which shady dealers she is hired. Michelle reluctantly helps Walker in his attempt to learn what was packed in her switched suitcase, and how to trade the contents for the return of his kidnapped wife.

Following their visit to Michelle's apartment, Walker's hotel room and shabby cabarets, it turns out that the smuggled contents are not drugs, but a krytron, an electronic switch used as a detonator for nuclear weapons, stolen and smuggled inside a souvenir replica of the Statue of Liberty, on orders of some Arab country's agents. The American embassy, working with Israeli agents, wants to get hold of the precious device, and they have no problem letting Sondra die for it. In order to save his wife, Walker joins forces with Michelle, who is only interested in getting her paycheck.

The film ends with a confrontation on the Île aux Cygnes, in the middle of the Seine, next to the Paris Statue of Liberty replica there, where Sondra is to be released in exchange for the krytron. However, a gunfight ensues between the Arab agents who were to get the precious device, and the Israeli Mossad secret agents who traced them to get hold of it. The Arabs are killed in the crossfire but Michelle is hit too, dying soon after having slipped the krytron into Walker's pocket, with Sondra at their side. Furious, Walker shows the krytron device to the Israeli agents, just to throw it into the Seine. He carries Michelle's body away, ready to leave Paris with his wife.




Filming took place on location in Paris with exteriors filmed outside Le Grand Hotel in rue Scribe in the 9th arrondissement. The hotel's lobby also appeared in the film.[3] Filming also took place at the Île aux Cygnes island in the Seine for the Lady Liberty scenes.[4]


Frantic was released in the UK on 16 February 1988, with a release of 26 February in the US and a 30 March release in France.[5]


Box office[edit]

The film was a disappointment at the box office with a domestic gross of $17,637,950, failing to recoup its production budget. However, the film was more successful in other countries such as France where it received 1,293,721 admissions.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

Although a commercial failure, Frantic was a critical success. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 76% of critics gave positive reviews based on a sample of 42 reviews with an average rating of 6.4/10.[7] Metacritic calculated an average score of 66 out of 100 based on 16 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[8] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B-" on an A+ to F scale.[9]

The film received "two thumbs up" from Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert on their television programme Siskel & Ebert and The Movies.[10] Pat Collins of WWOR-TV called it "Polanski's best film ever".[11] Desson Howe, of the Washington Post, called the movie "vintage Polanski", with its relentless paranoia, irony, diffident strangers and nutty cameos.[12] British film magazine Empire rated the movie three out five, calling it Polanski's most satisfying film since Chinatown, and one of the best traditional thrillers to come down the pike in quite some time.[13] Roger Ebert, in his review, gave the movie three stars, saying: "to watch the opening sequences of Frantic is to be reminded of Polanski's talent. Here is one of the few modern masters of the thriller and the film noir. Frantic is a reminder of how absorbing a good thriller can be."[14]


  1. ^ "Frantic Domestic Total Gross". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  2. ^ Silver, Alain; Ward, Elizabeth; eds. (1992). Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style (3rd ed.). Woodstock, New York: The Overlook Press. ISBN 0-87951-479-5
  3. ^ Sandford, Christopher (2007). Polanski. London: Random House. pp. 368–369. ISBN 9781844138791.
  4. ^ "Frantic Filming Locations". Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  5. ^ "Frantic Release Dates". Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  6. ^ "Frantic (1988) – JPBox-Office". JPBox-Office. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  7. ^ "Reviews at Rottentomatoes". Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  8. ^ "Frantic Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved February 28, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ "Home". CinemaScore. Retrieved 2022-02-28.
  10. ^ Siskel & Ebert and The Movies[permanent dead link] - review
  11. ^ Frantic DVD, Warner Brothers, 1998, ISBN 0-7907-3855-4
  12. ^ "Frantic Review". Washington Post. 26 February 1988. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  13. ^ "Frantic Review". Empire Magazine. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  14. ^ "Frantic Review". 26 February 1988. Retrieved 8 August 2013.

External links[edit]