Seven Days in May Reviews
While this film is basically a bunch of people talking for 2 hours, the tension is real and kept firm throughout. The resolution is quite clever and somewhat surprising.
Stellar performances by all, but the real star is the writing.
Check it out.
It is the height of the Cold War and the US President, Jordan Lyman (played by Fredric March) has negotiated a nuclear arms limitation treaty with the Russians. The military and some politicians are not happy with this, figuring the Russians will renege on the deal, leaving the US vulnerable.
Foremost among the opponents of the treaty is General James Scott (played by Burt Lancaster), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On his staff is a Marine Colonel, "Jiggs" Casey (played by Kirk Douglas), who starts to suspect that the General may be planning a coup...
Intriguing, entertaining drama. Mostly plausible, though there is some looseness in the plot. In addition, it demonstrates well the link between politics and the military, and who, in a democratic society, takes orders from whom.
Solid performances all round. Edmond O'Brien was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for playing the drunken-but-resourceful Senator Clark.
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.