Seven Days in May is a wonderful cold-war suspense drama that looks superb on DVD. It features excellent acting and a truly unique and riveting storyline. The story, written primarily by Rod Serling (he of the Twilight Zone), describes the events leading up to a near-military coup within the U.S. at the height of the cold war. Given that the U.S. represents the largest fully democratic system of government on Earth, a military coup would usually be unthinkable. However, Serling makes the possibility semi-plausible: an unpopular pacifistic president, the threat of nuclear war, and a rising military star who is revered by the joint chiefs.
The acting is amazing. Lancaster and Douglas are at their very best here. And Frederic March easily gives the best portrayal of any U.S. president in a movie. He shows exactly the right mix of emotions: you see his leadership skills, his diplomacy skills, and even his own weaknesses. Two amazing scenes stand out: the one between Douglas and March where the coup is revealed and the one between March and Lancaster near the end of the film. Martin Balsam and John Houseman are equally convincing -- the latter actor only appears for a short time onscreen, but milks the time for all its worth.
The DVD is worth purchasing for 2 reasons. The picture quality is great and the movie looks crisp in its original 1:85:1 ratio. The second reason is that you get to hear the excellent commentary of the late John Frankenheimer, who goes into extraordinary detail about the scenes. He even relates one story where his ex-wife noticed a set decoration in apartment owned by Ava Gardener's character that Frankenheimer stole from the house they shared together -- it's a total crack up.