The Fourth War | Chicago Reader

The Fourth War

John Frankenheimer still hasn't regained his stride since his black-and-white films of the 60s, but he's settled down into being a pretty good director of thrillers, and this is one of his more recent best—comparable to the lean, purposeful work he used to do for such 50s TV shows as Studio One and Playhouse 90. On the border between West Germany and Czechoslovakia in November 1988, American and Soviet border control commanders Roy Scheider and Jurgen Prochnow, embittered veterans of Vietnam and Afghanistan, get embroiled in a petty personal war of their own. That's about all that the plot—adapted by Stephen Peters and Kenneth Ross from Peters's novel—consists of, but Frankenheimer handles it tersely and professionally, and coaxes an exceptionally good performance out of Harry Dean Stanton as an American general. Gerry Fisher handled the cinematography, and Tim Reid and Lara Harris also costar.

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