Frantic Information

Frantic is a 1988 American-French mystery thriller film directed by Roman Polanski and starring Harrison Ford and Emmanuelle Seigner. The theme was written, arranged and performed by Simply Red.

The French locations and Ennio Morricone's musical score create much of the film's atmosphere. Grace Jones' recording of I've Seen That Face Before (Libertango), a cover version of Ástor Piazzolla's Libertango, as well as "Chicago Song" of David Sanborn is heard at key moments in the film.


Dr. Richard Walker is a surgeon visiting Paris with his wife Sondra for a medical conference. At their hotel, she is unable to unlock her suitcase, and Walker determines that she has picked up the wrong one at the airport. While Walker is taking a shower, his wife mysteriously disappears from their hotel room.

Still jet-lagged, he searches for her in the hotel with the help of a polite but mostly indifferent staff and then wanders outside to search himself. A vagrant overhears him in a café and says he saw Walker's wife being forced into a car. Walker is skeptical until he finds his wife's ID bracelet on the cobblestones. He contacts the Paris police and the US embassy, but their responses are bureaucratic and there is little hope anyone will look for her.

As Walker carries on the search himself (with input from a very sympathetic but wary desk clerk at the hotel), he stumbles onto a murder scene and then encounters the streetwise young Michelle, who had mistakenly picked up his wife's suitcase at the airport. It transpires that Michelle is a career smuggler but does not know for whom she is working. She reluctantly helps Walker in his increasingly frantic attempt to learn what was in the switched suitcase and to trade whatever it is for the return of his wife.

It turns out that hidden within a small replica of the Statue of Liberty is a krytron, a small electronic switch used in the detonators of nuclear devices. The film ends with a confrontation beside the River Seine where the terrorists release Walker's wife. However, a firefight ensues between the terrorists and Israeli agents. During the crossfire, the terrorists and agents are killed but Sondra is also shot and dies with Walker and Michelle at her side. Angry and upset, Walker throws the krytron into the river. Soon after, the Walkers leave Paris.



Frantic was a critical success, but was a disappointment at the box office, failing to recoup its production budget. The film received "Two Thumbs Up" from Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert on the TV show Siskel & Ebert and The Movies. Pat Collins of WWOR-TV called it "Polanski's best film ever."

This was Polanski's third film in the ten years following his 1977 conviction for statutory rape and subsequent fleeing of the United States; it is arguably his most Hollywood-oriented film of that period. The low box office returns in the United States was attributed to audiences showing distaste for Polanski, not as a director so much as a person.(citation needed)

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