12
Feb
09

Movies on DVD Review: Seven Days in May

sdimThose were seven tough days alright…

Starring Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric March, and Edmund O’Brien. Directed by John Frankenheimer.

It’s the Sixties and President Lymon (March) has a 29% approval rating (weird to think this would happen 40 years later, but hey, sometimes life does imitate art). He plans on signing a Nuclear Disarmament treaty with the Russians. This causes a problem with General of the Joint Chiefs of Staff James M. Scott (Lancaster). Working under Scott is Col. “Jiggs” Casey (Douglas). Casey finds out something called EconComm and several military officials betting on the Preakness. Does one thing have to do with another? Digging deeper Casey finds that his box is plotting a military coup and he has until March 18th to stop it from happening. He quickly alerts the President and a giant game of cat and mouse has begun, building up to the final day when the President has a Press Conference.

I liked this movie a lot, but then again Frankenheimer is one of my favorite directors. Having came from a background in television this becomes evident with showing various monitors and film playback in scenes. At points he tries giving an almost documentary feel to Kirk Douglas going around and discovering the true depths of the conspiracy.

One of the best scenes is when Lymon, just a day before the coup de grace, invites Scott over to talk about what’s going on. March vs. Lancaster is a scene that rivals Pacino and Deniro in “Heat.” It’s literally that good, and it brings out a few good points: who was more right or who was more wrong than the other?

Does it still stand up today? “Yes” if you can identify with a President with the lowest approval rating in history, or if you can relate to a country that has to cross its fingers and hope the other one will keep its word. “No” on the grounds that explicit letters pertaining to an affair were held back, trying to help Scott “save face” even if what he was doing was wrong. In today’s political climate most politicians or officials would NOT hold back letters regarding an affair. Maybe that’s the change in culture.

It may not be the greatest of the Frankenheimer catalog, but it’s a worthy addition. For those who enjoy conspiracy thrillers, especially Frankenheimer’s original “The Manchurian Candidate,” drop by the video store or put this one in your Netflix queue. It’s worth checking out.

My grade: B

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