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Seven Days in May (1964)

Approved | | Drama, Thriller | March 1964 (Austria)
Trailer
3:42 | Trailer

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Airs Wed. Mar. 27, 2:30 AM on TCM

ON DISC
United States military leaders plot to overthrow the President because he supports a nuclear disarmament treaty and they fear a Soviet sneak attack.

Director:

John Frankenheimer

Writers:

Fletcher Knebel (novel), Charles W. Bailey II (novel) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Burt Lancaster ... Gen. James Mattoon Scott
Kirk Douglas ... Col. Martin 'Jiggs' Casey
Fredric March ... President Jordan Lyman
Ava Gardner ... Eleanor Holbrook
Edmond O'Brien ... Sen. Raymond Clark
Martin Balsam ... Paul Girard
Andrew Duggan ... Col. William 'Mutt' Henderson
Hugh Marlowe ... Harold McPherson
Whit Bissell ... Sen. Frederick Prentice
Helen Kleeb ... Esther Townsend
George Macready ... Christopher Todd
Richard Anderson ... Col. Murdock
Bart Burns ... Secret Service White House Chief Art Corwin
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Storyline

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 <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

"I'm suggesting Mr President, there's a military plot to take over the Government of these United States, next Sunday..." See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

March 1964 (Austria) See more »

Also Known As:

Seven Days in May See more »

Filming Locations:

Arizona, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,200,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

An important plot point in the film involves the attempted coup taking place on the same day as the Preakness Stakes horse race. However, the seven-day timeline for the film would have had the coup taking place on Sunday while the Preakness is always run on a Saturday. John Frankenheimer said that the problem was solved by a scriptwriting acquaintance of his. This man worked as a script doctor and liked to gamble but wagered his professional services instead of money. Frankenheimer had won some work from the man and gave him the problem. The solution? In one scene a character walks by a poster which says "First Ever Sunday Running of the Preakness". See more »

Goofs

When the President and Gen. Scott have a conversation over video both are shown with the video monitor to their side while turned slightly to see the screen. The image for both though shows them sitting and facing forward, as if the cameras were located with the monitor and they were facing directly towards it. Even if the cameras were located somewhere else, their video images should have shown them looking off to the side. See more »

Quotes

Senator Raymond Clark: Ah, don't get your nanny up; you knew there'd be some dislocations. You can't gear a country's economy for war for 20 years, then suddenly slam on the brakes and expect the whole transition to go like grease through a goose. Hmph. Doesn't work out like that. And think how the whole psychology of the thing's been screwed up from the outset. We've been hating the Russians for a quarter of a century. Suddenly we sign a treaty that says in two months they're to dismantle their bombs, we're to ...
[...]
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Connections

Referenced in Loaded Weapon 1 (1993) See more »

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User Reviews

Forget "West Wing", here's political maneuverings with teeth
16 December 2002 | by jstachlerSee all my reviews

A splendid ensemble cast brought together in a fun, tight political thriller. John Frankenheimer's direction is first rate. I can't imagine Alfred Hitchcock doing a better job. The novel by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II was first published in 1962 and takes place in the early 1970s. The film, made in 1964, is more of period piece, shot in black and white by Ellsworth Fredericks. Some of the dark tones in the film are inspired by the mood of the nation since the assassination of President Kennedy. The novel, by contrast, writes of a two-term Kennedy administration. The script by Rod Serling improves on the novel by creating a sharper climax as the president overcomes the brewing plot by panicking high-ranking military officers to overthrow the Executive Branch of the US government. The film is otherwise fairly faithful to the book. Burt Lancaster plays General James Mattoon Scott, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and universally idolized military hero. The man, it seems, would make an ideal president--and that just might happen on the seventh day in May. Kirk Douglass portrays the efficient Colonel "Jiggs" Casey, who is Scott's subordinent and reluctant hero of the film. Frederick March is credible as an aging, weary president who has recently won a hard-fought battle to ratify a treaty with the Soviet Union to eliminate atomic weapons. There is a vociferous backlash against the treaty, led by right-wing television personalities. Soon it is apparent that certain elements in the military, congress, and media are all in league to usurp power from the president and, as they would reason, save the nation from the worthless treaty. The film plays on traditional political labels, both pro and con. Even though it was made 28 years ago, one can identify with many of the characters and situations in the film. In the later 1980s, President Ronald Reagan was criticized by right wing conservatives for signing a treaty with the Soviet Union to downsize nuclear stockpiles. The film has some great editing as well, most notably the scene where some of the recent mysterious occurances are beginning to make sense to Jiggs as he watches Gen. Scott address a conservative political rally. Good camerawork as well, particularly when a nervous Jiggs finally sums up to the president the fantastic plot he believes he's stumbled upon. Another great shot occurs when General Scott presents a speech he is going to make against the president to his team of co-conspirators, only the back of his head is seen. The characters are human, the story is spellbinding, the film is a classic on all levels.


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