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>
A liberal Democrat, Burt Lancaster was hesitant to take the role of Scott, as he felt the character and film unfairly vilified the conservative Republican party. Kirk Douglas persuaded him that the role of Scott was a morally ambiguous figure rather than a villain. See more »
Several officers, including General Scott and Colonel Casey, sometimes wear their service hats or overseas caps indoors. This violates military custom, which requires headgear to be removed while indoors except while participating in ceremonies. See more »
Senator Frederick Prentice:
Ah, it's as simple as this: the President trusts Russia, and the American people don't. The people don't believe the Russians're going to take those bombs apart on July 1st, and neither do I.
See more »
Perhaps one of the most genuinely suspenseful films every made, this paranoic film should be seen in conjunction with its natural brethren, "The Parallax View" and "The Manchurian Candidate" (which is also directed by John Frankenheimer).
The film's strength lies in a group of superb performance -- Burt Lancaster as the ramrod-stiff and egomaniacal general bent on saving the United States by planning the overthrow of the government; Kirk Douglas as his senior staff officer, who only gradually realizes what his boss is planning and just how dangerous he is; Fredric March as the world-weary President; and especially Edmond O'Brien as the souse of a Senator who, like March, demonstrates the kind of ingenuity and resolve that Lancaster and his co-conspirators assume they don't possess. These performers, as well as a splendid supporting cast, make Rod Serling's sometimes preachy dialogue seem completely real, and some of the scenes -- notably the final face-off between March and Lancaster -- seem on the verge of exploding.
Frankenheimer's low-key direction feeds this tension, by allowing the dialogue and the situations do the work. Would-be filmmakers looking to specialize in thrillers should probably spend more time watching films like this than modern-day "thrillers" like "Enemy of the State" or "Conspiracy Theory" which rely more on violence than actual dramatic tension.
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