Then-US Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, who was a member of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council, is not a character featured in this film. His character does appear Thirteen Days (2000), a theatrical film about the same incident. See more »
During the debates in the White House, it is mentioned what type of aircraft should replace or augment the U2 to make reconnaissance flights; a "Navy P8U" is mentioned, possibly what was meant as the correct type was F8U, the F8U-IP Crusader, was a fighter aircraft modified for reconnaissance photography. The type served in the Naval Air Service from 1956 until 1999 in the carrier fleet. See more »
Hallmark Hall of Fame had many fine presentations, and the Missiles of October was one. It's the story of the Cuban missile crisis. There is a more modern film depicting the same time, Thirteen Days, which is also excellent, and had the advantage of the actual transcripts, which were released in the '80s. Back to that later. The Missiles of October goes into much details about not only both sides, but the negotiations.
The Missiles of October starred William Devane as JFK, Martin Sheen as RFK, Ralph Bellamy as Adlai Stevenson, Howard da Silva as Khrushchev, John Dehner as Dean Acheson, along with other character actors of the time - Dana Elcar, James T. Callahan, Peter Donat, Michael Lerner, and Andrew Duggan.
I will admit that after the first scene, which was so stilted, with everybody sounding as if they were giving a speech, I was prepared to hate this movie. After that, the film changed considerably as we got to see more of Kennedy. The film is carried beautifully by William Devane's brilliant performance as JFK. He really is the man - charming, with a sense of humor, tough, thoughtful, and demanding when he needs to be.
The first thing that's obvious, as it was obvious in Thirteen Days, was that the joint chiefs hated Kennedy, thought he was too young to be President, and wanted to bomb the hell out of Cuba and thought he was idiot for not approving it. There was a criticism of Thirteen Days that Kennedy "seemed to lean heavily on his advisors." Yeah. And why not? If I were going to start World War III, I'd get some advice too. Kennedy was very, very careful - he did not want to bomb Cuba and start a war.
The film shows the tension as negotiations fail, ships run the barricade, an airman is shot down -- it was less tense for me as someone who lived through it, but if you didn't, it is very suspenseful and scary.
Everyone was good, and I nearly fainted when Michael Lerner walked in as Pierre Salinger - boy, did they get the casting perfect on that one! Martin Sheen was a little problematic for me. First of all, when a person ages, his or her voice drops, so to hear this higher voice coming out of Sheen was jarring, plus I felt his accent was just a touch too much. The camaraderie between JFK and RFK was expertly shown.
I would recommend both films. William Devane remains today one of our finest actors, perhaps underrated because he had a minimal film career. The Missiles of October made his reputation, and rightly so. A performance that needs to be seen.
One more thing. I looked up when the transcripts were released, and the article said that they were released over time "because it takes 100 hours to transcribe one hour of tape." I was a transcriber for 35 years. It takes 3-4 hours if you're transcribing a lot of people talking. Don't know where 100 hours comes from. Obviously in the case of something so important, someone would have to listen to the tapes to proofread the transcript, but that would take only one hour. Oh well.
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