Seven Days in May Reviews
A very interesting movie directed by John Frankenheimer about a plot to take-over of the US government. This movie is well-written by Rod Serling and has a great cast.
President Jordan Lyman (Fredric March) isn't doing very good in the poles. His nuclear disarmament treaty with the Soviets right in the middle of the cold war isn't going over very well here at home, especially with General James Scott (Burt Lancaster) and many of the joint chiefs of staff. General Scott is also a popular presidential candidate, but he feels the importance of taking charge before the Soviets go to war with us.
His colleague, Marine Colonel Martin 'Jiggs' Casey (Kirk Douglas) is finding out information that points to General Scott plotting a military take-over of the government. Despite his loyalty towards his general, he goes to the President to tell him of this possible plot.
My favorite part in the movie is where President Lyman and General Scott argue over the importance of democracy versus the military imperative, and the need to let the people truly decide their fate.
This film is interesting on so many levels. Not only does it include so many good performances: it is one of the most Academy Award filled casts ever -- March, Lancaster, Douglas, Ava Gardner, Martin Balsam, Edmund O'Brien, and John Houseman. Great performances by all in this film, but mostly by Burt Lancaster and Fredric March who toward the end of the movie have a great scene with excellent dialog that sum up the true essence of the story. But, what is most interesting is that the film was made when it was; being released three months after the assassination of President Kennedy. Because it brings up the issue of whether a political coup can happen here or not. Also, the screenplay was written by Rod Serling, of Twilight Zone fame.
Little known is that a darker alternate ending was developed for this film involving General Scott being killed in a car wreck, leaving the question: was it an accident or suicide? Coming up out of the wreckage over the car radio is President Lyman's speech about the sanctity of the Constitution.
This film is entertaining but entirely unrealistic. It completely ignores reality when it comes to containing a conspiracy theory, funneling government funds to build and operate a secret military post, and using troops without their knowledge. It also Hollywood-izes politics, with the President seeking solid evidence against General Scott, for fear of not being believed. In reality, just the notion of scandal would have sent the press into a feeding frenzy, evidence be damned. Of course, this is explained away by the President desiring to protect the nation from the reality of an attempted coup. In short, this film relies on the sort of ideals and non-reality that Hollywood loved during that era. It's worth a watch though. Lancaster, in particular, does an excellent job in the film - creating a character who is incredibly hate-worthy.
It's a little jingoistic at the end, but that's to be expected during this period.