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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Seven Days In May (1964)

After the U.S. President (Fredric March) signs a nuclear disarmament treaty with the Soviet Union, a right wing general (Burt Lancaster) sets a secret plan in motion that would have the U.S. military take over the government from the reins of the President. When a Colonel (Kirk Douglas) uncovers the scheme, there are only seven days to expose and stop the military junta. Directed by John Frankenheimer with Rod Serling adapting the screenplay from the best selling novel by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II. Like Frankenheimer's previous film (THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE), this is a first rate conspiracy thriller. It's tightly paced and lean and Frankenheimer keeps it moving like a well oiled machine. One of the things that stands out is how different the presidency was back then. A series of incriminating letters are obtained by the Colonel from the General's ex-mistress (Ava Gardner). The question of whether to use those letters is volleyed back and forth from an ethical standpoint. Today, there's no question those letters would be put out there pronto! Remarkably, considering that Lancaster, Douglas and March are among the three biggest acting hams in the business, all three are very restrained in their performances here. The brief score (about 15 minutes) is by Jerry Goldsmith. With Edmond O'Brien in an Oscar nominated performance, Martin Balsam, John Houseman, Hugh Marlowe, Andrew Duggan, Richard Anderson and George Macready.

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