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Seven Days in May

Seven Days in May(1964)


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  • The "Deep State" in 1964

    • Curtiss
    • 9/30/18

    Many reviewers commented on this movie as portraying a clash between an idealistic liberal President and his policies, and hyper-patriotic conservative fascists. I see it rather as a coup attempt against a duly-elected president and a cabal formed between the Pentagon leadership and the entrenched political class of Washington's "Deep State."The leader of the Cabal is 4-Star USAF General, James Mattoon Scott, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, played with smooth intensity by Burt Lancaster. His cohorts include: three other members of the Joint Chiefs; a network of field commanders; the ranking member of the political opposition, the conservative Senator from California (License Plate #USS 1), played by veteran actor Whit Bissell; an Army Colonel, with openly-fascist views, played by John Larkin, tasked with taking control of the nation's communications systems at key locations; and a stridently reactionary media host. All of them plot to seize power from the President, and set aside a controversial nuclear disarmament treaty (and the Constitution).A single sincere opponent of the President's policies, Colonel Martin 'Jiggs' Casey, Director of the Joint Chiefs, played with intensity by Kirk Douglas, becomes alarmed at certain coincidences, and brings them to the attention of President Jordan Lyman, played with anxiety and strength by Frederick March. President Lyman is already facing historically low poll numbers, labor strikes at key industries, protestors from both parties picketing & rioting outside the White House fence. He has only seven days and a few key men he can rely on to uncover the full extent of the conspiracy, and come up with enough evidence to compel all four generals to resign. Under the circumstances, openly dismissing them would lead to his impeachment, while bringing the full conspiracy into the light of day, might cause a nationwide crisis.So many parallels to the current situation - regardless of which year you're reading this!

  • When Movements Create Monsters

    • Dawn
    • 9/10/18

    This pic is more relevant than ever. It examines how disagreements over political policies divide us into chasms from which we cannot escape. What I appreciate most about this story is its ability to pinpoint the main conduit that gives rises to all fascist leaders: Fear. That fear gives rise to egotistical madmen who pass themselves off as savior of all who are afraid. Their followers are afraid of change. Afraid of foreigners. Afraid of diplomacy. Burt Lancaster walks a fine line as the general who is plotting a takeover of the United States along with other members of the Joint chiefs of staff. Kirk Douglas is his right-hand man who uncovers the plot and takes it to the President played by Fredrick March. Good story and acting. If you think you'd sleep better at night knowing a fascist general is in charge, think again. Watch it.

  • Reality

    • J.D. Jitters
    • 12/18/17

    Some films are great but don 't have a sense of reality, "wishful thinking". Ronald Regan took the General's (Burt Lancaster's) advise and started an arms build up, of course we know now that all of Eastern Europe fell under communism. Liberals always win in there minds but lose when it comes to real life but are unable and refuse to own up to it.

  • A Still Relevant Film

    • David H.
    • 7/29/17

    Even after 53 years this film still relevant. It has great performances all around including from a haggard Ava Gardner. The movie points out very well what could have happened then and what has happened since. Frederic March portraying the president puts it best: "We look for a champion in red, white, and blue. Every now and then a man on a white horse rides by, and we appoint him to be our personal god for the duration." The planned military coup in the film was fiction, but what that lottery known as the Electoral College has brought us is all too real.

  • Excellent movie

    • Vickie
    • 7/29/17

    What a line up of talent! Edmond O'Brian's Best Supporting Actor nomination for this movie was well deserved. He was a New Yorker with a pretty convincing Southern accent. I enjoy this movie every time I watch it. Seven Days in May is a lesson in superb acting and less-is-more filming.

  • No Other Way To Win!

    • Buddy
    • 7/29/17

    I note that in this film the only solution for a conservative to win the highest office is to over throw the government. I could be wrong but I believe that just recently a conservative was elected to the highest office. The only violence that I saw came from left wing demonstrators on television wanting overthrow Trump. They have this film in reverse.

  • Marvelous Even Today

    • kirkdeservespraise
    • 3/20/17

    Agree that O'Brien overly hyped for his performance to the detriment of the many fine performances,except Ava Gardner who looked quite faded.George Macready was at least 20 years older than her,and he looked quite distinguished,an IMHO,handsome!And when Chris Todd first strolls on the scene,I felt confident that things would come together.Todd made me think of CT's distinguished US Senators Tom & Chris Dodd,who served so many years.That Macready is a native son of Rhode Island,you'd never know it by his "perfect diction" that people so love to trash that he was from RI,but he just seems perfect as a Cabinet Member,seemed more like Sec Of State (No,not another Clinton,but almost as well educated as a Clinton,Bill or Hill).March so much better than Spence Tracy ever would've convinced me.Can't wait to see this film again.

  • It Can Happen Anywhere

    • boffo
    • 10/12/16

    Never let down and never let up.If any of the President's advisors were available from this film,2016 election wouldn't be so scary.Dynamite cast,and the scene between Burt and March was rehearsed,as per Lancaster's request,on a Sunday,as Burt was just recovered from a bout of hepatitis,and Fred willingly agreed.Both consummate actors here.So many esteemed performances,don't know how anyone can diss anything here!

  • Woof!

    • chrisdodder
    • 10/11/16

    Love that comment by Sec'y OfTreasury Todd after reading Scott's sordid love letters.And Kirk's classic dive into Todd for saying so-love the battle yet again between a Macready character and Douglas.CLASSIC FILM!

  • Enjoyed Last Night-Better Than I Ever Expected

    • yowzah
    • 9/16/16

    Burt a MacArthur like SOB tried to collude w/others for a military coup v what he perceives as a weak president,Fred March,who's excellent and good solid acting all around.Ava starting to show signs of a hard-partying lifestyle!

  • Savin' Ways to Mayhem

    • Clichae
    • 9/15/16

    Impeccably casted & acted, this Hollywood labor of love has us assume that strong, nationalistic, single-minded male leadership is a danger to the world while weak-kneed, compromising politicians & disobeying, whistle-blowing army officers deserve our complete trust & confidence!

  • Showings Sept,Oct,Nov on TCM

    • can'twait
    • 9/12/16

    Now have it on Lancaster 4 pack of movies,and was surprised it was so good-usually will not watch this kind of movie.Excellent performances all around,esp Kirk Douglas!

  • Seven Days in May on Criterion Collection DVD

    • Jeffrey Kenison
    • 5/21/16

    I would like to this political drama on Criterion Collection DVD. I like Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, Fredric March, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien, and Martin Balsam.

  • still a wonderful thriller

    • Jim F.
    • 2/14/16

    After fifty years, this remains a powerful film and a cautionary tale. It's an incredible period piece that highlights the dangers and fears of the Cold War and the danger of a bombastic demagogue who attempts to us his powerful personality and warped view of patriotism to stage a military coup and overthrow the government of the United States. Burt Lancaster as that demagogue, James Matoon Scott, is brilliant and frightening. Kirk Douglas is at his best as the young officer who does his duty and helps unravel Scott's treachery. Frederic March is outstanding as the President. This film captures much of the spirit of the early 1960s. Made just after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the film captures the intensity of the Cold War. Eva Gardner portrays a boozy, cocktail circuit woman who had a forbidden relationship with Scott. The scenes of Douglas and Gardner in her apartment are pure early 1960s. Kirk Douglas delivers one of film's very best lines when Lancaster's character asks Douglas if he knows who Judas was. Kirk Douglas' response is brilliant, thrilling and intense.

  • Seven "Stays" Today

    • Jeff Boston
    • 12/10/15

    Seven things that stay with me today after viewing "Seven Days in May" more than a half-century after its release is (1) March and Lancaster, here and in other work (except for "Inherit the Wind") were truly two of the greats; (2) I guess the only reason O'Brien, and accomplished actor in his heyday was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe here was because it was near the end of his career and/or he plays a souse, which Hollywood loves to recognize with awards, for his southern accent is truly atrocious, and his mannerisms laughingly inauthentic; (3) Hollywood has always had a penchant for bashing conservatism and conservatives, especially from the sixties on; (4) not many more so than Director Frankenheimer, who tries to outdo the outlandishness of his "The Manchurian Candidate" here, with virtually all right wingers being portrayed as McCarthyites, when that is what the left, especially those in Hollywood, have become; (5) it is sad and ironic that Pres. Kennedy cooperated in the filming of this film the Pentagon did not want made that shows rabid anti-communism as horrible, and he was assassinated by a rabid, horrible communist just a few months before its release; (6) March the president in this film wants to bring about peace with the signing of a paper when it was the real President Reagan, a former actor, who brought about the end of the on;ly other superpower in the world, the communist Soviet Union, by bankrupting them, not signing a paper; and (7) President March here had the audacity to sign an agreement with a longtime enemy to do away with nuclear weapons and now we have a real president signing an agreement with a longtime enemy to bring about nuclear weapons.

  • Who really is the enemy?

    • Andy
    • 12/9/15

    Can anyone see the parallel? In this film it's not the communist who are the threat but conservative thinkers like the general, today it's not ISIS who is the enemy but the "Tea Party" or there likes. It is any American who disagrees with liberal thought ---liberal thought is the absolute!

  • Seven Days in May

    • Scott A Doherty
    • 2/26/15

    This is a great movie for many reasons and continues to make us suspicious of the Military Industrial Complex and it's attempt to control our Democracy even to this day. Filmed when Kennedy was in the White House almost as though it were a crystal ball of what fate was in store for JFK in November of 1963. To cast Burt Lancaster as the Military Megalomaniac even though Burt was a staunch Democrat was brilliant. Great performances by the entire cast which are All-Stars of Hollywood. I think in this day and age where we have the Conservative Right Wing which leads from a platform of fear that you could look at each cast member in this movie and place a modern day name in today's political arena to that character. This movie and story were truly ahead of it's time.

  • Seven days in May

    • James Fitzlaff
    • 7/19/13

    Outstanding cast and direction

  • Good

    • Jim
    • 12/29/12

    Douglas is at his best and Ava Gardner has role with substance. The presidents speech at the end is good but not profetic.


    • NATRAY
    • 11/3/11


  • Pacifist Wishful

    • Kali
    • 4/22/11

    Barney and Miss Beazley, a belief of the pacifist wishful. Amen.

  • Toss of the Card

    • Kali
    • 4/22/11

    Seven Days in May (1964), maybe Eleanor Holbrook has all the cards and toss the table for the West Wing. Sedition is not the politics here, President Jordan Lyman plays God's favor at the ballot box more unscrupulous than the public opinion, he brought on his own shame at the treaty with Soviet Union and defamed the American greatness to win the war of liberty against the Russians! Jiggs favors the constitution like Holbrook, General Scott could have demanded an answer that the virtue of the pen could protect America and the option from diplomacy may explain his leadership at the challenge of the President. The faith of democracy that is the peacemaker strong and proud should not be the oath of desperation from the White House or the whisper of tyranny from Jiggs, if the world would emerge from the menance of authoritarian. General Scott could take on a convention and Holbrook takes the card for the President, a nuclear war deserves some peace ordering as important as a suave state of affairs. We have Barney that walked with President Bush in Camp David at all tedious politics, that was a full White House General, eight years in duty, wearing only half the medals he deserves, whatever else he is, he's no jackal canine and also his companion Miss Beazley. It's a dog's life, true it is!

  • Fredrick March Steals the Show

    • Larthefirst
    • 11/23/10

    Great movie, great cast, but the showdown scene between March and Lancaster showcases what great writing and acting can bring to the screen. That scene alone, I believe, solidifies Fredric March, as being the second greatest screen actor (not necessarily "star") from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Barrymore is number one, and that's another subject.

  • valuable teaching tool

    • DMG
    • 10/27/10

    As an American History and government teacher, this movie is a valuable teaching tool about the constitutional powers and discretionary perogatives of presidents. It is a great jumping off point for discussions on the Constitution, executive powers, roles of the president, etc.

  • It is just a movie guys, lighten up.

    • Tobra
    • 10/27/10

    You know Frankenheimer's politics, which you may not agree with, but it does not diminish the quality of the movie. Naturally the right wing are the bad guys, things have not changed much in that respect in Hollywood in the last 50 years.Great acting, knockout cast, excellent tale, an utterly riveting movie. It just sort of ended though, like they cut the last 10 minutes or something.

  • A Suspenseful Hitchcock-Style Classic Mystery.

    • Frank Harris Horn
    • 10/3/10

    Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Ava Gardner, Fredric March, Martin Balsam & Edmond O'Brien lead a star-studded cast as legendary filmmaker, John Frankenheimer joins "Twilight Zone" creator, Rod Serling in presenting one of the dark, moody suspenseful dramas of the turbulent 1960s based on the novel by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II. Lancaster is a popular U.S. army general, who may be involved in a possible military coup to seize control of the U.S. government by ousting an unpopular U.S. President (March). An absorbing, believing story with intelligent suspense as brilliantly written by Serling. Filmed on location in Washington, D.C., Paris, France and Los Angeles, California. Also starring Andrew Duggan, Whit Bissell, Hugh Marlowe, Helen Kleeb, George Macready, Richard Anderson, Bart Burns, Malcolm Atterbury, Rodolfo Hoyos, Fredd Wayne & John Houseman.

  • One of my favorite movies

    • Vance Cordell
    • 10/3/10

    This movie has a great cast and is well played by the actors. The story is interesting and fairly believeable with a few exceptions. When I saw the movie the first time in 1964, I was in the Air Force, and it shocked me to the core. It doesn't shock me any more. I think it is even more believeable today than then.I am glad that it is scheduled to be played several more times. I am going to urge my friends to watch it

  • Fact From Hollywood Fiction

    • Jackie
    • 8/1/10

    This picture is interesting in that it is Hollywood fiction, that is the liberal president in this film and his allies save the day. It seems that dirty "conversative" general want's to overthrow the American government in that He (the general) does not believe that a single piece of paper, that is a piece treaty signed by the soviets and America will bring a peacefull end to our disagreement with the Russians and also end our chances of a nuclear war but instead an arms build up is the way to go. Well, Hollywood fiction, the film that is, has the liberals idea as the true answer and they come out as the heros. What is more interesting is that President Reagan later went with the arms build up and of course we all know now that, that ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union and communism in all of eastern Europe. So much for Hollywood fiction!!

  • There WAS a remake!

    • Robert
    • 3/8/10

    This film WAS remade in the mid-90s by HBO pictures and is called "The Enemy Within" staring Forrest Whitaker as Col Mac Casey, and Jason Robards as the traitorous general. Sam Waterston of Law and Order fame plays the President of the United States. Lots more action and intrigue, with an updated political scene. But I like both movies. Both have their own unique qualities. I wouldn't want to get rid of either one from my collection.

  • Ava @ 42 - WOW!!!!

    • Steve S.
    • 2/10/10

    Sinatra was an idiot!Rod's sceenplay is terrific.March & O'Brien are supuerb and even Douglas, manges to control is emotion's under the the direction of Frankenhiemer!

  • How about a re-make?

    • Charles Bower
    • 2/9/10

    As a sophomore in college I saw this movie when it first came out. I've seen it a half a dozen times since and believe it is one of the best films ever. What an outstanding cast! With Hollywood's penchant for re-makes, I feel this would be an excellent choice with all of the political polarization occuring in the country today.

  • Historical allegory

    • Jarrod McDonald
    • 2/8/10

    The film is pure Hollywood fiction, but it's entertaining Hollywood fiction. And it showcases some great performances and a tight script by Rod Serling with some good dialogue. I don't know how realistic the premise is, and whatever your politics are, it's definitely a product of the Cold War. But I think it raises some interesting questions about peace treaties, about the role of the military and its relationship with with the legislative and executive branches, in particular. Obviously, some of the plot looks silly by 2010 standards: namely, the part where the signed confession gets lost in a plane crash. With today's technology it could be faxed or scanned and sent electronically at the snap of a finger, or the aide could take a picture of it with his cellphone and immediately get it to the president. But for what it is, a historical allegory in the days after Kennedy's assassination, it's a thought-provoking piece of cinema, and I enjoyed it. I especially thought Fredric March was great as the no-nonsense leader who had to reign in military officials that were a disgrace to their country.

  • Seven Days in May

    • Sam
    • 2/8/10

    Well done, Well directed. Well written. All true, What may be more true is that events such as those portrayed in this film may very well be going on under our very noses. It is not at all patriotic, or in the best interest of national defense, to refuse to believe that "rogue" individuals, with considerable power and credibility, do exist in both the "conservative" and the "liberal" camps. We need more light on the subject. Movies like "Seven Days in May" help throw some of that light.

  • Abuse Of Free Speach!

    • Jack The Hat
    • 2/5/10

    Our military died on the battle field, so that Hollywood could abuse free speach and this film is there reward. I ask, just which left wing politican or for that matter any politican deserves the praise that this picture promotes? No wonder the Pentagon would not coperate, it would like being ask, if someone could openly and with deception would be allowed to destroy one's character? This film is a disgrace to every fighting man who served. This film is sick!!

  • One of the great shockers

    • Steve
    • 2/3/10

    Not only is this a great story well done, it is one of the great shock movies I have seen. The very idea that a overthrow could happen in the U.S. is un-nerving. This is taken and portrayed in a serious manner with none of the usual Hollywood b.s. to dilute it. Just a strait take on a great book. Right up there with FAIL-SAFE.

  • Propaganda at it's worst

    • Minky
    • 7/28/09

    This films premise makes me want to throw up! It is so obliviously left in political thought, in that it's statement being, that only a "conservative" American General would consider the over throw of the American government and only left wing politicians are there to stop the dirty deed and are heroic in nature, is absolute Bull----

  • Seven Days in May (1964)

    • Jay
    • 2/1/09

    Very convincingly done, well acted by all, especially Edmond O'Brien and Kirk Douglas. Suspenseful, excellent direction and pacing. Very well written and always interesting.

  • Best of its kind

    • Robert N
    • 1/24/09

    Dream cast of stars and character actors in one of the finest political thrillers ever made. The chemistry and tension between the players is so realistic. A great conspiracy film with memorable performances.


    • DJ
    • 11/9/08

    I defy anyone to find a better film as far as acting, especially dialogue.Some of the scenes with Lancaster and March/Douglass are off the charts.In my opinion this is one of the finest american films in several generations.Its the perfect storm of acting, directing, and screenwriting (Rod Serling)that has ever been cast.To me its a perfect 10

  • Excellent Movie!

    • Peter
    • 7/28/08

    I saw this film when I was in elementary school; sixth grade I believe. It remained with me all these years. Not many films can do that It gave me a flavor of the period and a cursory explanation of government.I believe I also read the book. Hopefully, it will be shown on TCM in the not too distant future.

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