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Thirteen Days (2000)

A dramatization and a fictionalized account of the Kennedy administration's struggle to contain the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.

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Writers:

, (book) | 1 more credit »
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3 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
U-2 Pilot
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Drake Cook ...
Mark O'Donnell
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Helen O'Donnell
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Kathy O'Donnell
...
Kenny O'Donnell, Jr.
Matthew Dunn ...
Kevin O'Donnell
Kevin O'Donnell ...
NPIC Photo Interpreter
Janet Coleman ...
...
Floyd
...
...
...
...
Arthur Lundahl
Liz Sinclair ...
Kenny's Assistant #1
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Storyline

In October, 1962, U-2 surveillance photos reveal that the Soviet Union is in the process of placing nuclear weapons in Cuba. These weapons have the capability of wiping out most of the Eastern and Southern United States in minutes if they become operational. President John F. Kennedy and his advisors must come up with a plan of action against the Soviets. Kennedy is determined to show that he is strong enough to stand up to the threat, and the Pentagon advises U.S. military strikes against Cuba--which could lead the way to another U.S. invasion of the island. However, Kennedy is reluctant to follow through, because a U.S. invasion could cause the Soviets to retaliate in Europe. A nuclear showdown appears to be almost inevitable. Can it be prevented? Written by <jgp3553@excite.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

You'll Never Believe How Close We Came


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

12 January 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

13 Days  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$80,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$46,668 (USA) (29 December 2000)

Gross:

$34,566,746 (USA) (30 March 2001)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The real Ted Sorensen, President Kennedy's speech writer is in the scene standing during the first cabinet meeting. See more »

Goofs

Correct as some of Major Anderson's evasive actions as shown in the film may have been, the operational ceiling of the U-2 is recognized as about 72,000 feet. At that altitude and speed, it is operating only 5-10 mph above its stall speed at that density altitude. This is referred to as the "coffin corner" (of the flight envelope) by its pilots. The balancing of this aircraft was so critical that film in one downward looking camera fed one way, while another fed the opposite direction. The pilots evasive actions with rapid altitude gain to an excess of 90,000+ feet as shown in the film are not possible. See more »

Quotes

Journalist: So... tell me about this military exercise that's going on down in Puerto Rico.
Kenny O'Donnell: [sharply] What?
Journalist: It's called "ORTSAC", I believe. "Castro" spelled backwards.
Kenny O'Donnell: "ORTSAC"? I... I don't know what you're talking about.
Robert F. Kennedy: Me either. Why?
Journalist: Because maybe the President and Gromyko are gonna talk about it.
Kenny O'Donnell: If you're trying to drum something up, Johnny, forget it. This meeting's been on the books for months. Far as I know, it's just a friendly talk on U.S.-Soviet relations.
[...]
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Connections

Referenced in Roots of the Cuban Missile Crisis (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

The Thunderer
Written by John Philip Sousa
Courtesy of Associated Production Music, LLC
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Thirteen Days was a wonderfully acted, wonderfully told story about the 13 days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a time when the world almost came to an end.
18 July 2001 | by (Fresno, Ca. USA) – See all my reviews

Shown through the eyes of presidential aide Kenneth P. O'Donnell (Kevin Costner), we see the inner workings of President John F. Kennedy (Bruce Greenwood) and his closest advisors as they try and find the best way to end a potentially devastating showdown with the U.S.S.R. In October of 1962, the U.S., during a regular mission photographing Cuba, spotted a missile buildup by the Russians. The missiles were powerful enough to kill 80 million Americans with only 5 minutes of warning time. President Kennedy had to decide quickly what action to take. With his trusted aide Kenny O'Donnell and his brother Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy (Steven Culp), and others such as Robert McNamara, Adlai Stevenson, McGeorge Bundy, Dean Acheson, Dean Rusk, and many more, Kennedy needed to figure out the best course of action. If he allowed the Russians to aim these missiles at the U.S., the United States would be placed in a potentially deadly situation. If Kennedy allowed the military to attack the missiles and destroy them, what would Russia do as a response? If he waited too long, would Russia simply attack the U.S.? If he backed down and agreed to take down U.S. missiles in Turkey, would the U.S. then look weak to the rest of the world? For such a young President, Kennedy had a lot of tough decisions to make, in a short amount of time, with the world hanging in the balance.

I wasn't alive during the Cuban Missile Crisis as it occurred, so seeing Thirteen Days was like having a history lesson at the same time as having great entertainment. Even though I knew that we didn't end up in World War III, there were a lot of things I didn't know. I won't go into any of the specifics, but I never fully understood how close we came to destroying the planet. The tensions of the time were brought out successfully by director Roger Donaldson. You could see and feel the sweat on all the major players as each minute ticked by. Bruce Greenwood did a tremendous job as the young President Kennedy, showing how Kennedy was strong enough to stand by his morals and values, even as his most trusted advisors were urging him to go to war. At the same time, Greenwood was able to portray Kennedy as someone who needed help and was able to turn to his brother for guidance. Kevin Costner did a good job as Kennedy's presidential aide. I especially liked his boston accent. Costner was a strong personality that worked well with Greenwood and Steven Culp. I believed that the three of them were friends for 15 years and that they trusted each other with their own lives. Other acting standouts to me were Dylan Baker as Robert McNamara and Michael Fairman as Adlai Stevenson.

Even running at almost two and a half hours, I was always at the edge of my seat, wondering what was going to happen next. Like I said before, I wasn't even born yet, nor was it something I ever learned about in school, so I had no idea what was going to happen. It was nice being able to get deep inside the mind of these important people during this crucial time. Of course, I have no idea if what was said during these meetings was actually said in real life, but I'd like to believe that at least the outcomes of the meetings were true. I'm a big fan of these kinds of dramatic films based on real life events. While being entertaining, they also have the ability to teach you about history. Reading about these situations in books isn't nearly as enjoyable as being able to watch them on screen. I think screenwriter David Self did a great job of bringing these real life events to life on the big screen. He made it historical but didn't bore you with too much talk or information. Along with Donaldson, he gave you what you needed to know, and let the actors bring you into the action.

So overall, I thought Thirteen Days was a great film. Well acted, well directed, well written, nice musical score and very entertaining throughout. And if you happen to learn something along the way like I did, then even better.


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