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By Dawn's Early Light
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Reviews & Ratings for
By Dawn's Early Light (TV) More at IMDbPro »

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16 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Top notch nuclear thriller.

Author: Doctor_Bombay from Lucas Buck, NC
7 April 1999

There have been many global nuclear war stories, and this is not the best, but I've always loved this film.

It's a combination of cast and perspective. Whereas most films have a single strong storyline, and maybe a couple of smaller sub plots, this film bypasses that usual structure, preferring instead to use 3 or 4 main plotlines, all moving forward, all converging on the same point. Good non-traditional approach managed by a great non-traditional director, Jack Shoulder (The Hidden).

And for a film that did not go to theatres, this one has a strong cast: Powers Booth teams with Rebecca DeMornay to fly the nuclear bomber. James Earl Jones and Jeffrey DeMunn battle Darren McGavin and Rip Torn as they try to overthrow our world during the ensuing panic. And Martin Landau as the Prez trying to keep it all together.

Nice story, good pace, strong finish. I like it.

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13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

One of the best war movies I have seen

10/10
Author: das417 (das417@yahoo.com) from Beaverton, OR
7 December 2004

I have never heard of this movie until recently. After watching it, I have decided that it is one of the best war movies I have ever seen. It's not too flashy or over dramatic (for the most part), and shows what would happen with our government if it were to respond to a nuclear strike.

The best thing about the movie was the fact that it was able to show both sides of the story without trampling, or placing too much emphasis on one of the other. The bomber crew and the political players were each given equal time in the story giving a more full picture of a world coming apart.

Powers Boothe is one of the more underrated actors. He had a strong performance in this movie. It would be good to see more of him. He plays the military officer role better then many others I have seen lately. Here he shows that he does deserve more because of the flair he gives his characters.

In comparison to Sum of All Fears, I say this was the better movie when it comes to nuclear warfare. This was a more realistic view of what it would be like.

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13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

When technology goes wrong...

Author: Yorkie from London, England
6 December 2001

This film is, in my mind, all about what could happen if terrorists got their hands on nuclear weapons and technology did not take account of it. Russia's automatic retaliation to the strike on Donetsk triggers utter political turmoil as Russia realise, too late, that they are victims of terrorism, rather than under US attack. The big mistake was not keeping China informed of what was happening.

The acting in this film is excellent. Most of it seems very plausible, but would anyone really agree to a limited retaliation? Of course, the Soviet Union probably could not have made much contribution to rebuilding back then, so maybe it would be more plausible for the time.

The mind battle between Condor and the real President is excellent. This is a "must see" film for anyone interested in world politics.

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13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Compelling cold war tale

8/10
Author: goya-4 from PA USA
18 March 2001

When a nuclear missile is launched by presumably Soviet forces toward Turkey, the beginning of the ultimate war to end all wars WW 3 is started. Powers Boothe, his girlfriend and copilot Rebecca DeMornay and their flight crew take off in a B 52 on what they believe is just another drill only to find out that this is the real deal. While they fly their mission toward Russia the US and Russia exchange nuclear blasts. The movie, originally made for HBO, tells a realistic tale of what could be if the controls of the nukes get in the wrong hands and with Russia, being the way it is today, this could be a prophetic movie. A very well done drama with some good acting, a little over the top by Booth, but it will keep you watching and most importantly make you think. On a scale of one to ten... 8

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12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Uncannily close to the real thing

Author: nigelpwsmith from London, England
1 June 2005

There have been many attempts to portray some of the overall horror of supposed conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States. For many who have been in the forces, By Dawn's Early Light came very close to everything we were taught, everything we had to prepare for, if the real thing ever happened.

Whilst some films seek to show the madness of nuclear conflict (Strangelove) and others try to portray what might happen if things went wrong (Fail-safe), By Dawn's Early Light shows the picture from both the crew doing their job, delivering nuclear ordnance, to the President trying to turn the war off whilst his successor, badly advised, seeks to strike back with all his might to destroy the enemy and win the war. In the end, the conclusion that both the crews and the executive branches reach, is that global thermonuclear war IS madness and that the only safe solution is not to play.

In the film, the conflict is started with a renegade/terrorist attack on the Soviets. All we can hope, is that when the first terrorist nuclear weapon is used (probably on the west), the executive branch realise that the only solution is to find a way to a) take the weapons out of the hands of the irresponsible and b) try not to take retaliatory action.

The performances by James Earl Jones, Rebecca De Mornay and Powers Boothe are exceptional. The film would have been better without the personal relationship between the last two, but even with the limited budget for special effects, they managed to pull off a believable and tense drama.

If America ever has to commit to nuclear war, I hope they have men of the character of James Earl Jones's General. A man who follows orders, but is just as prepared to question if the orders are illegal and insane and act against them.

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11 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

A Real Thriller

8/10
Author: Daniel L. Miley from Collegeville, PA
29 June 2000

The last cold-war thriller is truly exciting and realistic. A launch by rouge Russian generals on their own territory triggers a nuclear exchange between the US and the (then) Soviet Union. The acting is top-notch by all involved. Highly recommended!

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Great Movie

10/10
Author: cuffdaddy from Warrensburg MO, USA
9 August 2003

A great movie about how war can get out of hand very quickly. The book the movie was derived from "Trinity's Child" is EXCELLENT. It is ironic that the President was played by Martin Landau and in the book, the president was watching "Mission Impossible" when SAC HQ calls him. As you know, Martin Landau starred in "Mission Impossible. Also, James Earl Jones plays an Air Force SAC General in this movie. He also played an Air Force Lieutentant on board a B-52 in "Dr. Strangelove".

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11 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Armageddon a'la Hollywood...

9/10
Author: pc_kpr from S/E USA
9 January 2000

This is by far one of the best "Armageddon" movies of the 20th century. A superior cast lend due credit to the complex plots/subplots. The dialogue and direction are right from the military politico. Any vet will be on the edge of their seat!! A true-to-life humdinger!!

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Top Notch Nuclear Thriller

Author: degracia from University of Texas
22 October 2000

It's a shame that there are few movies that depict the procedures, tactics, and escalating stages of nuclear warfare in as much detail and accuracy as "By Dawn's Early Light." Adapted from the novel Trinity's Child, Jack Shoulder's "By Dawn's Early Light" hits all the right notes in portraying the professionalism, training, and courage of American nuclear forces. The film's numerous scenes, including the E-4 NEACP (National Emergency Airborne Command Post), RC-135 "Looking Glass" plane, and even the Strategic Air Command operations room are incredibly realistic and well-detailed. The numerous conflicting personalities depicted in the film also give it great texture, taking the film a step closer to reality. Cold War buffs and military fans are sure to get a kick out of this film, especially with its stunningly dramatic, hardcore finale. "By Dawn's Early Light" is proof that low budget constraints do not have to derail an entire film.

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Well done and scary

Author: pghmoe from Pittsburgh, PA
19 December 2000

An terrorist nuclear strike on a Russian target leads to a limited nuclear exchange between the superpowers while a gravely injured President attempts to stop both sides before going all out. Top notch production values capped off by excellent performances. "Welcome to Tomorrow."

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