An unpopular U.S. President manages to get a nuclear disarmament treaty through the Senate, but finds that the nation is turning against him. Jiggs Casey, a Marine Colonel, finds evidence that General Scott, the wildly popular head of the Joint Chiefs and certain Presidential Candidate in 2 years is not planning to wait. Casey goes to the president with the information and a web of intrigue begins with each side unsure of who can be trusted.Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
All the ECOMCON officers and enlisted men at the top secret Site Y base are wearing unit insignia and badges on their fatigue uniforms. But troops participating in an actual top secret operation like this one would be wearing "sanitized" uniforms (no insignia). See more »
Intense and gravely serious, "Seven Days In May" tells the fictional story of a super-patriotic American General, a man named James Mattoon Scott (Burt Lancaster), who may, or may not, be plotting with others to overthrow the U.S. Government. Much of the plot, especially early-on, is veiled in secrecy and mistrust.
An alert Col. Jiggs Casey (Kirk Douglas) first gets suspicious when references to horse racing are labeled top secret. Then he discovers that a mysterious organization called "ECOMCON" doesn't officially exist. Casey's suspicions turn to Scott, because Scott disdains President Jordan Lyman (Fredric March) as a liberal pacifist. In the early going, it's up to viewers to figure out whether this military coup d'etat is real or imagined.
The film's dialogue is heavy laden with import. Characters speechify with feeling about nuclear war, Pearl Harbor, disarmament, and other weighty issues. There's almost no humor. The forceful rat-a-tat-tat of the drums during the title sequence foreshadows a distressing tone: foreboding, angry, discordant.
It's a riveting story, with lots of tension. I would describe its import as comparable to "All The President's Men". Acting is top-notch. I especially liked the performances of March, as the idealistic President. In support roles, Edmond O'Brien and Martin Balsam are terrific.
The B&W visuals are quite good. There are lots of wide-angle and low-angle shots, which convey a heightened sense of visual perspective. There's some mood lighting at night in the rain, and some clever back-projection techniques.
On the other hand, with such a large cast I found it hard to connect names with faces at times. And the romantic subplot with Ellie (Ava Gardner) is a tad distracting.
But overall, this is a fine, high quality Cold War era film dealing with topics that were cogent in the 1960s, especially following the assassination of JFK.
President Lyman summarizes the film's theme. "The enemy is an age, a nuclear age. It happens to have killed man's faith in his ability to influence what happens to him. And out of this comes a sickness, a sickness of frustration, a feeling of impotence, helplessness, weakness. And from this desperation, we look for a champion in red, white, and blue".
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