Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Seven Days in May


This and Fail-Safe, released the same year, are the classic Cold War dramas (Dr. Strangelove being the best—and only—Cold War comedy). This one is the better of the two, I think, though it doesn’t really involve the threat of nuclear annihilation. The idea of a military takeover of the US government is scary enough for me, and of course it would be done by just the sort of steely-eyed “patriot” Burt Lancaster so brilliantly portrays here. Kirk Douglas and Fredric March and Edmond O’Brian and Ava Gardner are all good, but it’s Burt’s picture. An excellent script by Rod Serling and direction by John Frankenheimer make Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey’s novel so plausible it could give you nightmares, because you know there are guys just like James Matoon Scott lurking in the endless halls of the Pentagon, who would just love to bring down this president.