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Seven Days in May (1964)

Approved | | Drama, Thriller | 13 February 1964 (USA)
Trailer
3:43 | Trailer
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 »
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:

The astounding story of an astounding military plot to take over the United States! The time is 1970 or 1980 or, possibly, tomorrow! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the first full page ads for the movie's upcoming release appeared in the NY Times on November 22, 1963, the day of President John F. Kennedy's assassination. See more »

Goofs

The placard the Secret Service agent holds in front of the hidden camera at Blue Lake contains the day of the month but not the year the filming was done, a crucial error if they had later to establish the film's provenance (Broderick could claim it was shot some other time). See more »

Quotes

General James Mattoon Scott: And if you want to talk about your oath of office, I'm here to tell you face to face, President Lyman, that you violated that oath when you stripped this country of its muscles - when you deliberately played upon the fear and fatigue of the people and told them they could remove that fear by the stroke of a pen. And then when this nation rejected you, lost faith in you, and began militantly to oppose you, you violated that oath by not resigning from office and turning the country over to ...
[...]
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Connections

Featured in Killing Oswald (2013) See more »

User Reviews

"We look for a champion in red, white, and blue"
14 October 2009 | by LechuguillaSee all my reviews

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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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 February 1964 (USA) 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

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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