Seven Days in May (1964) [Re-UP]

Posted By: Someonelse
Seven Days in May (1964) [Re-UP]

Seven Days in May (1964)
DVD9 | ISO+MDS | NTSC 16:9 | 02:02:20 | 5,14 Gb
Audio: English AC3 1.0 @ 192 Kbps | Subs: English, French
Genre: Drama, Thriller

Director: John Frankenheimer
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric Marc

Adapted by Rod Serling from the best-selling novel by Fletcher Knebel and Charles Waldo Bailey II, Seven Days in May was allegedly inspired by the far-right ramblings of one General Edwin Walker. Burt Lancaster plays General James M. Scott, who, convinced that liberal President Jordan Lyman (Fredric March) is soft on America's enemies, plots a military takeover of the United States. Every effort made by President Lyman to find concrete evidence of General Scott's scheme is scuttled by political protocol, human error and accidental death. Ultimately, Lyman must rely upon the man who first uncovered the plot: Colonel "Jiggs" Casey (Kirk Douglas). John Frankenheimer's terse direction and Ellsworth Fredericks' stark black and white photography enhance the "docudrama" feel of Seven Days in May.


John Frankenheimer's ("The Manchurian Candidate"/"The Train"/"The Young Savages") gripping political thriller is based on the best-selling novel by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II, and the screenplay is by Rod Serling of The Twilight Zone fame. Its demagogue usurper character is reportedly based on the views of the far-right member of the John Birch Society, General Edwin Walker.

Seven Days in May (1964) [Re-UP]

President Jordan Lyman (Fredric March) has just signed a nuclear disarmament treaty with the Soviet Union and his poll numbers are very low. Not only is the public displeased with him, but the presidentially ambitious charismatic Air Force Gen. James M. Scott, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, considers it a treasonable act and says so publicly–you can't trust the commies.

Seven Days in May (1964) [Re-UP]

Scott's loyal aide, Martin "Jiggs" Casey (Kirk Douglas), becomes suspicious of his boss when he accidently learns of both a top secret base in Texas and of cryptic messages among the Joint Chiefs. When Casey believes that his boss is leading the other Chiefs of Staff in a coup to occur seven days later in May, he reports his suspicions to the President. As a result, Sen. Raymond Clark (Edmond O’Brien) is sent to investigate the secret base. Clark locates the base but is taken captive. He eventually breaks out with the help of Jiggs's colonel friend, Henderson (Andrew Duggan). The President next sends his press secretary, Paul Girard (Martin Balsam), to Gibraltar, who obtains a statement from Admiral Barnswell, a Joint Chief who refused to go along with Scott. But on the return trip Girard is killed in a plane crash, and a fearful Barnswell denies signing the statement.

Seven Days in May (1964) [Re-UP]

But things don't rest there, as Casey obtains from Scott's former mistress, the Washington hostess, Eleanor Holbrook (Ava Gardner), some incriminating letters. Armed with all this information, President Lyman demands the charlatan's resignation in a confrontation and when things turn completely against the once heroic general, he resigns and the coup never materializes.

The acting by Lancaster, March and Douglas is superb. Frankenheimer keeps it frighteningly chilly, tense, thought-provoking, and realisitic. The possibility of such a foul deed happening is very real, and this charged melodrama gives us a good idea of how such an insider coup may look.
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
Seven Days in May (1964) [Re-UP]

The film takes place at an undefined time, supposedly around 1970 or so, and the U.S. has entered into a nuclear disarmament treaty with the Soviet Union. President Lyman (Fredric March) negotiated this treaty and got it through the Senate, but at great cost to his political fortunes. He and the treaty are now slightly less popular with the American people than syphilis. A charismatic general, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs James Mattoon Scott (Burt Lancaster), is vocally opposed to the treaty and not at all shy about saying so in front of Congress. It’s no secret that Scott has his sights on occupying the White House.

Seven Days in May (1964) [Re-UP]

His loyal aide, Colonel “Jiggs” Casey (Kirk Douglas), begins to notice some odd communications flowing through the general’s office, references to bases and units he’s not familiar with, accompanied by a strangely secretive betting pool on the Preakness. He begins to add up the pieces and decides that General Scott’s plans for the White House may not involve waiting for an election year.

Seven Days in May (1964) [Re-UP]

He goes to the White House with his suspicions, namely that General Scott is planning a military coup d’etat under the cover of a scheduled military exercise. At first, the President and his people are understandably skeptical, but when a trap that Col. Casey suggests catches General Scott in a plan to make sure that the President attends this exercise, whether he likes it or not, all the President’s men are faced with the unpleasant reality that James Mattoon Scott will stop at nothing to stop the implementation of the treaty, and the Constitution is no obstacle.

Seven Days in May (1964) [Re-UP]

Kirk Douglas was originally signed to play the role of General Scott, but he realized that his friend Burt Lancaster was perfect for the role and took the less flamboyant role of Col. Casey. This was good thinking on his part because it’s hard to imagine anyone but Lancaster as the charismatic general. For his part, Douglas fits perfectly into the quieter role as the loyal officer torn between friend and country.

Seven Days in May (1964) [Re-UP]

Lancaster is magnetic and utterly believable as Scott and the movie is careful not to make him a one-dimensional villain. He’s not the bad guy because he thinks the disarmament treaty is a bad idea. His flaw is not trusting the constitutional process and democracy to give him the tools to prevent its implementation. The film sympathizes with President Lyman but allows for the possibility that he might be misguided or naive in his thinking. This isn’t a movie about nuclear disarmament but rather about the American way of handling our differences.

Even if you don’t care one way or the other about the politics of the film, it works on the level of a pure thriller as well, building suspense and uncertainty with every efficient turn of the screw. Between the first-rate cast, a director at the top of his game, and a compelling story, this movie belongs on any “A-list” of essential Cold War movies.
Paul McElligott, Celluloid Heroes
Seven Days in May (1964) [Re-UP]

Edition Details:
- Commentary by director John Frankenheimer
- 'Political Forces' - 3 text screens
- Cast and Crew - 1 text screen
- Awards - 1 text screen
- Theatrical Trailer (3:45)

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