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John Frankenheimer Ended His Career With A Flop Instead Of A Bang

Director John Frankenheimer has had a varied career within his many decades in the film industry. After working in television during the 1950s in varying positions — including as a director of photography and as an assistant director to "12 Angry Men" director Sidney Lumet — Frankenheimer would go on to deliver his own cinematic efforts that have gone on to become highly-regarded. With his acclaimed body of work including films like, "Birdman of Alcatraz," "The Manchurian Candidate," "Seven Days in May," "Seconds" and "Grand Prix," Frankenheimer made a name for himself through his examination of political and societal issues that challenged audiences at the time. Additionally, his efforts directing four 1990s television movies would win him four Emmy Awards, three of them being consecutive, and a Golden Globe

Sadly, Frankenheimer's career had its fair share of duds along the way. Throughout the late 60s and throughout the 70s, the director saw an inconsistent range of success, ranging from solid hits such as 1975's "The French Connection II" to the more-common critical and commercial flops such as "The Fixer" and "The Horsemen" (via Turner Classic Movies). And sadly, history seemed to repeat itself towards the end of Frankenheimer's life, as following his hits in the 1990s, his director's final film would take a turn for the worse.

Frankenhemier's last film was a star-studded dud

John Frankenheimer's career saw a boom in the late 1990s with his prolific television work and 1998's "Ronin" starring Robert De Niro. But only two years later, it would all come crashing down with the release of his final film, "Reindeer Games," sometimes alternatively titled "Deception." Released in 2000, the crime thriller tells the story of an ex-convict (Ben Affleck) who, along with his new girlfriend Ashley (Charlize Theron), find themselves tied up in a heist to rob a casino.

It seemed that the film would be a refreshing take on the heist genre, with Ben Affleck even telling EI Insider, "It reminded me of movies that I really like that don't get made anymore." Couple this with the already-acclaimed director and a cast of such huge names as Affleck, Theron, Sinise, Clarence Williams III, and Danny Trejo, and it appeared this would be another classic in the making for Frankenheimer. Oh, if only that were the case. 

On a $42 million budget, the film only managed to bring in $32 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo). It didn't stand much of a chance with critics either, earning a Rotten 25% Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert even called the film out for its tedious exposition and pacing. It would be Frankenheimer's final theatrical feature film as the director. After working on some shorts and television projects, he died at age 72 on July 6, 2002 (via The New York Times).