by John Farr
John Farr discusses the powerful political thriller starring Burt Lancaster, directed by John Frankenheimer.
Seven Days in May (1964)
What It’s About:Outraged that US President Jordan Lyman (Fredric March) has signed a nuclear disarmament treaty with the Soviets, Gen. James M. Scott (Burt Lancaster) plots a coup d’etat with other Joint Chiefs of Staff. Lyman is alerted to the conspiracy by Scott’s aide, Col. “Jiggs” Casey (Kirk Douglas), and races against the clock to neutralize the general’s traitorous plan.
Why I Love It:
Two years after “The Manchurian Candidate,” director Frankenheimer scored again with this gripping political thriller. Beyond serving as a showcase for two frequently paired stars – Lancaster as a power-mad general, Douglas as the principled whistle-blower, the movie works because in the context of the paranoic Cold War era, the premise feels all-too-plausible. Stark black-and-white photography and brisk pacing only add to the film’s breathless tension. Screenplay by Rod Serling, based on Fletcher Knebel’s book.