When the President and Speaker of the House are killed in a building collapse, and the Vice-President declines the office due to age and ill-health, Senate President pro tempore Douglas ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Douglass Dilman
Jim Talley
Senator Watson
Noah Calvin
Arthur Eaton
Kay Eaton
Robert Wheeler
Wheeler's Lawyer
Simon Scott ...
Hugh Gaynor
South African Consul
Ma Blore
Edward Faulkner ...
Secret Service Man
Gilbert Green ...
Congressman Hand


When the President and Speaker of the House are killed in a building collapse, and the Vice-President declines the office due to age and ill-health, Senate President pro tempore Douglas Dilman (James Earl Jones) suddenly becomes the first black man to occupy the Oval Office. The events from that day to the next election when he must decide if he will actually run challenge his skills as a politician and leader. Written by Kevin Lantry

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It took an accident to make this man President of the United States. What they do to him now won't be an accident. See more »








Release Date:

19 July 1972 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La loi de succession  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Originally made for television, but released theatrically instead. See more »


Douglass Dilman: When you justify murder in the name of morality, you've done nothing but murder your morality.
See more »


Referenced in Isn't It Shocking? (1973) See more »

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User Reviews

Very Well Made TV-Movie
10 May 2004 | by (Morristown, NJ) – See all my reviews

First off, the last reviewer doesn't know what he's talking about when he says the Constitutional fluke that makes James Earl Jones president is "fictional." It is indeed true that when the President, Vice-President and Speaker Of The House are all dead and/or incapacitated the President Pro Tempore of the Senate becomes President. The only stretch is that the job usually goes to the most senior member of the majority Party of the Senate, and not to someone as young as Jones' senator is.

Also, there is no assassination plot against the President in the movie.

As for the movie itself, despite the fact that it is penned by Rod Serling (from Irving Wallace's novel), it is remarkably less free of the kind of pretentious liberalism that marred his script for "Seven Days In May." In fact, what is remarkable for the film is how it falls much closer to the center of the spectrum politically in comparison to what Hollywood churns out today like "West Wing".

Jerry Goldsmith's score is the best work he ever did for a TV-movie and hopefully some day it will find its way to CD as many other obscure TV scores of his have.

11 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Is this film available on tape/DVD? wsays
In light of tonight's historic event. This film is worth another look! eugene1001us
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