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26 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Every World Leader Should Be Required to Watch this Once a Year

10/10
Author: clarkpark from Syracuse, NY
2 January 2005

This is the best docudrama, and quite possibly the best drama, ever made. Forget the blatant revisionism of the Kennedies that's come in vogue, The Missilies of October is the real story of how Jack Kennedy and Nikita Khruschev faced down their generals and conservative wings and pulled the world back from the brink of Armageddon.

Just before the missile crisis breaks, Kennedy read The Guns of October – an historical work about how the great powers simply stumbled into World War I. It wasn't inevitable; it could have been avoided, but no country would give another room to back down without appearing to capitulate.

Bobby Kennedy plays the whip to bring the powerful and contentious men who make up JFK's cabinet, political allies and military leadership into an uneasy consensus around a blockade of Cuba, instead of an invasion. JFK gives Khruschev room to maneuver at every turn, and Khruschev is smart enough to see these openings and take them. Neither side gets what it wants; both sides get what they can live with.

Ralph Bellamy, Nehemiah Persoff, John Dehner, Andrew Duggan, Peter Donat, Dana Elcar, Stewart Moss, Harris Yulin and more give excellent performances. William DeVane as JFK, Martin Sheen as RFK and Howard DaSilva as Khruschev are absolutely brilliant. The script and direction are equal to the fine performances of the cast.

Watch this movie and ponder where we'd be if the Bush cabinet had learned these lessons before they started playing power politics.

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18 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

'Guns Of August' Revisited

9/10
Author: DATo-2 from St. Louis, USA
2 July 2000

The Title 'The Missiles Of October' was a play on the title of the book 'The Guns Of August' by Barbara Wertheim Tuchman which deals with the precipitant events leading to World War I and the enormous tragedy resulting from the inability of the principal player's to diplomatically side-step one of history's most tragic chapters. I was a child at the time of the Cuban missile crisis but I remember clearly the dread we all felt during those tension filled days when literally the fate of the world was hanging in the balance.

'The Missiles Of October' was a Hallmark Hall Of Fame special presentation and was based on Theodore Sorensen's book 'Kennedy' [the chapter entitled 'The Cuban Missile Crisis']. The TV production captured perfectly the story as told by Sorensen, who was part of Kennedy's staff at the time and was present at most of the meetings taking place prior, and subsequent to Kennedy's revelation to the world of America's knowledge of the Russian missiles in Cuba and our intent to have them removed.

I HIGHLY recommend this film as one of the most riveting stories you will ever see ... fascinating, mesmerizing, haunting, and would have made great fiction if it were not ABSOLUTELY TRUE.

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18 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

WOW!

10/10
Author: (roman11@aol.com) from Palo Alto, CA
24 June 2003

This really impressed me when first I viewed it in '74. The real standout was William Devane as JFK. One of the most realistic pieces of casting and portrayls I've seen! Only on the close ups could you tell that it was Devane. His accent and demeanour were perfection. In other words he was JFK!

Everyone else was superb as was the story, camera work, direction etc. The casting was brilliant and more than that REAL! This was truly a winner from start to finish.

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17 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

A TV Drama Classic

Author: jacksflicks from Hollywood
11 July 2001

Some have berated the "The Missiles of October" for being over-long. Nonsense! (One genius who complained did, however, like the performance of "Marin Short". Sounds like a 12 year-old. Hey, maybe he is!) It would have been over-long if it were a boring story with boring performances. But "The Missiles of October" is neither. The story is, of course, riveting, whether you were around during the early sixties or not. And the performances - the guy who cast the three main characters, JFK (William Devane), RFK (Martin Sheen) and Khrushchev (Howard Da Silva), should have got an Emmy. Martin Sheen may have over-done Bobby Kennedy a bit, but it should be noted, that RFK's "Kennedy accent" was much thicker than JFK's, almost to the point of self-caricature.

Nor is the film "dated," as another reviewer would have it. The TV claustrophobic atmosphere is in perfect keeping with the tight, closed, suffocating tension which actually existed in the real situation. The crisis did not occur out of doors, or in halls - it occurred in a few rooms.

"The Missiles of October" possesses the hallmark of classic drama: though you may know how it ends, you want to watch it again and again.

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14 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Simply One of the MOST Compelling Movie Play's EVER!

10/10
Author: Wolf (alphaspace) from Baltimore, Maryland
31 January 2004

I find this movie now on DVD one of the most compelling works of art it has ever been my pleasure to behold. This movie is from the less is more school. No high tech camera angles and silly special effects get in your way here. No stupid insipid love story tangles its way through the plot where some couple must give you today's obligatory R Rated steamy love scene at some point when you just wished the action would go on. This movie is just cold hearts, raw nerves, hardened steal will's of both sides exposed in abundance as the world of the early 1960's creeped toward thermonuclear oblivion in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Brinksmanship and a world tittering on the brink of a testosterone cliff a fall from which guranteed no return to life as it existed before is what this movie was about. Missiles of October is told in a play format. The sets are obviously sets so you do not waste your time on the decorations of the people or the places. You simply are given a reference of where you are by the set. The real action is the dialogue the intrique in the tangled the goings on. This movie works on a level of raw emotion. The missiles of October is a movie stripped bare of the heavy syrup and confectionary sugar laden movies of today. The Missiles of October does not spoon feed the audience each moment of their movie experience till only one rather inexcapable formulalic conclusion offered by the screen writer can be reached.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a series of mis-steps wrong judgement calls and finally at the 11th hour some common sense where. In this movie both sides The Soviet Union and the United States had to get off their high horses and admit we together do not want to end human kinds existence as a species on this earth and take almost every other living thing with us as we exit. The fact that the set's look deliberately cheesy and the acting is done as a play just makes the truly superior acting stand out and grab you all that much more. Oh to say I was pleased with The Missiles of October is to dabble in understatement up past your neck for I in all ways loved it such that I can not be without two copies of this in my home. One to watch and one to keep in a safe fire resistant place. The Missile's of October blew me away because it is true, this happened in real life. I was just a baby at the time but I lived through this time. This movie in play format is awesome because the acting was first rate and people this was high drama life or death stakes would have affected all of us had it gone wrong because it was all real life baby and no movie gets any better than that in my humble opinion.

Oh and its like way educational too so buy this one its one of the WOLF's major must haves like number one on my serious subjects list.

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12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Excellent two-sided version of the near-catastrophe

Author: Bruce J. Green from Long Beach, California
24 July 2003

This is probably the best filmed analysis ever of the events of October, 1962; as both a dramatic story and filmed history, it rises far above the recent Kenvin Costner movie "Thirteen Days", which was about the same cataclysmic event.

Significant in this version of the Cuban Missile Crisis is the portrayal of Nikita Khrushchev and his advisors, showing us some (though obviously not all) of the high level discussions on the Soviet side of the fence. The late Howard Da Silva is remarkably expressive as Khrushchev and Nehemiah Persoff excellent as Andrei Gromyko, his foreign minister.

Other cast standouts include the late John Dehner as Dean Acheson; Martin Sheen as Robert F. Kennedy; Andrew Duggan as JCS Chairman Maxwell Taylor; Ralph Bellamy as Adlai Stevenson; and, in a performance unmatched elsewhere by anyone, William Devane as John F. Kennedy.

Although anyone viewing this movie should be warned that this is docudrama and that the real history of the Cuban Missile Crisis is far more complex than even this movie shows us, it is one of, if not the, best historical recreation TV has ever given us. A definite must-see for anyone truly interested in cold-war politics.

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12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Riveting behind the scenes drama about the Cuban missile crisis.

Author: David from Connecticut
24 August 2001

A must-see depiction of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. Focusing mostly on the Kennedy administration, this made-for-TV movie captures all the tension and emotion occurring inside the White House. It gives a real insider's view of how the American government operates. It also takes you inside the Kremlin giving you a glimpse how both sides dealt with the crisis. William Devane and Martin Sheen give excellent performances as Jack and Bobby Kennedy. The entire cast is top-notch. Don't bother with Thirteen Days, it pales by comparison. This is the real deal.

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

William Devane is an excellent JFK

8/10
Author: dansandavis from Florida, USA
15 January 2005

Superseded in recent years by the Hollywood production "Thirteen Days" starring Kevin Costner, this 1974 made-for-TV movie was for years the best available dramatization of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. A compelling presentation, it has the feel of watching live theater. Although we know more of the historical facts now regarding this particular event in history, this film should still be watched. What I like best about the film, however, is this: In my opinion, William Devane does a better job portraying President John F. Kennedy than any other actor I've ever seen. He's simply excellent! I would like to have seen him do JFK in a bigger production. Interestingly, Martin Sheen, who plays Robert F. Kennedy in this film, later played JFK in a TV miniseries that came out on the 20th anniversary of the assassination (1983). Now, of course, Sheen plays the fictional President Bartlet in the popular TV series "West Wing". Overall, Devane is much better in this film and, compared with Sheen's later work, Devane is a much more convincing JFK.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

What we escaped from.

7/10
Author: Robert J. Maxwell (rmax304823@yahoo.com) from Deming, New Mexico, USA
30 May 2006

This isn't going to be everybody's favorite movie. The production values don't shoot out the lights. All the sets are indoors. There's no motion to speak of. The whole shebang seems static and talky.

Yet it's an important document and in some ways well done. If much of the dialog sounds stilted it's because it was taken from official sources. So we get a lot of formal speech and very little in the way of offhand nudges. But the acting, at least in the important roles, is really pretty good. DeVane as JFK, Martin Sheen as his brother Bobby, and Howard DaSilva as Krushchev are outstanding.

Most impressive is the way this film takes us back to what now seems almost like a Golden Age, despite the missile crisis and the insanity of Mutual Assured Destruction.

It was a time when a president would make certain that the meetings were attended by an old Cold Warrior, Dean Acheson, even though Acheson was presumed to represent a dated point of view and was only a private citizen at the time, because the president wanted to hear all points of view during brainstorming sessions.

In discussing those planning sessions, Robert MacNamara describes President Kennedy leaning towards military action in order to save face, and one of the participants saying to him, "Mister President, you're wrong." ("That took guts," says MacNamara in Errol Morris's documentary, "The Fog of War.") I was in school at the time of these events and no one knew anything except what was released to the media. If we'd known how close we were to war I believe church attendance would have soared.

Many incidents and coincidences came together to get the world out of that tight spot, chief among them the reluctance of both sides to engage in war. Both Krushchev and Kennedy had a pretty good idea of how that worked. JFK had written a book about it. More than that, imagine a president who is able to muse that he recently finished reading Barbara Tuchman's history of the accidental beginning of World War I, "The Guns of August". "If I could do it, I'd send a copy to every commanding officer aboard the blockading destroyers -- not that they'd read it." The resolution of the conflict, despite missteps and mistakes on both sides, hinged on a single event. Krushchev, depressed, wrote an ameliorative letter to Kennedy, saying that he understood Kennedy's position, and that he, Krushchev was willing to dismantle the Cuban missiles in return for a guarantee that the USA would neither launch nor aid any invasion of Cuba in the future. (Using anti-Castro Cubans, we had invaded the island at the Bay of Pigs, which was a miserable failure.) At last both sides seemed to have what they wanted. The USA was getting rid of the missile threat, and the USSR was getting a guarantee of Cuba's sovereignty.

Alas, under political pressure from his "war camp" at home, Krushcheve wrote a second letter, much harder in tone, reneging on earlier proposals and adding demands which the USA could not grant. Two mutually conflicting proposals a day apart. What to do? What they did was follow Robert Kennedy's suggestion. They ignored the second letter and responded only to the first. More fumbles and confusion followed but the crisis was eventually resolved with both sides compromising, but not in ways that jeopardized their own defenses.

The crisis required -- and got -- deft handling at the top and cautious but effective diplomacy. That's why I used the expression "Golden Age" before.

As drama, this isn't much. No villains, no fist fights, and not a gun in sight. Yet for its educational value alone, in our somewhat history-shy culture, it ought to be seen by everyone, especially now.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Fine performances.

Author: yenlo from Auburn, Me
6 April 2000

This made for TV picture got rave reviews when it came out in 74. William Devane does a great job in his portrayal of JFK. Martin Sheen was also good as RFK. Howard Da Silva not to be overlooked as Nikita Khrushchev. When viewed today the filming technique may seem dated and dull but if that can be overlooked the content of the film is still powerful. Additionally it's all based on an actual historic event.

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