Seven Days in May (Widescreen) (Sous-titres français) [Import]
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John Frankenheimer's follow-up to The Manchurian Candidate is as intimate and subdued as its predecessor is flamboyant and energetic. Burt Lancaster is calm and calculating as the steely-eyed military hawk General Scott, who opposes the president's (Fredric March) plan to end the cold war with a bold nuclear disarmament plan. Lancaster's longtime friend and frequent costar Kirk Douglas is his smiling, joking right-hand man, Colonel "Jiggs" Casey, whose easygoing manner is jolted by evidence of a possible plot to overthrow the American government. Scripted by Rod Serling from the novel by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey, the film plays much like a classic live TV drama (the medium that spawned both Frankenheimer and Serling), with the drama arising from conversations and confrontations and the action largely limited to scenes within the Pentagon and the White House. An ominous undercurrent of danger seeps through the realistic (and often real) settings of the film, conveyed chiefly through the intensity of the excellent ensemble performances. Notable among the supporting cast are Ava Gardner as a lonely Washington socialite who was once the general's mistress, Edmond O'Brien as an amiable alcoholic senator, Martin Balsam as the president's shrewd but skeptical secretary, and underrated character actor George Macready as the wily presidential advisor. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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.
Frankenheimer has a more subtle touch in this movie, the follow-up to the Manchrian Canidate. This one is not quite as good but still an engossing flick.
My only complaint with the DVD is that it did not have more in the way of supplemental features, especially more complete cast information than was provided in the film itself. I was interested in knowing who other actors in minor roles were since a good many of them are not listed at all (most notably John Houseman as Adm. Barnswell); I ended up having to go to the Internet Movie Database for that. Other than that (and a few other very minor technical nitpicks in the plot), this is indeed a true classic and I'm proud to have it in my collection.
There's no mistaking the John Frankenheimer style: the sharp black and white cinematography, stark sets and lighting, claustrophobic compositions. Faces are framed in extreme close-up to completely dominate the screen. He uses deep focus effectively; two characters will be having a conversation in the foreground, but a third will be constantly in view in the background, as if to suggest that every whispered secret has the potential to be overheard.
This style is fabulously on display in "Candidate" and is reprised here in "Seven Days in May." Frankenheimer makes great use in both films of TV screens: a character will be simultaneously in view of the film's camera and projected on a screen within the world of the film, giving the movie viewer different angles of the same scene both literally and figuratively; since media plays a role so frequently in his movies, Frankenheimer constantly draws our attention to its existence and the power it has to manipulate what we perceive to be the truth.
As for the performances, there is no improving on Fredric March's understated interpretation of an ailing president, stuck in the dilemma of acting in what he thinks is the country's best interests even though the country itself is rejecting his beliefs.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Seven Arts Productions presents "SEVEN DAYS IN MAY" (1964) (118 min/B&W) -- Starring Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Frederic March, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien & Martin Balsam... Read morePublished on April 29 2011 by J. Lovins
Simply put, Lancaster's and Douglas's acting are enough to give this movie excellent ratings. The story line of course is very relevant to today's events where a pacifist President... Read morePublished on Feb. 20 2010 by Winston
Funny how both conservatives and liberals can cook up their own paranoid fantasies from the same sets of facts. Read morePublished on July 5 2004
One year after "The Manchurian Candidate", John Frankenheimer was back at it with "Seven Days in May", screenwritten by "Twi-Light Zone" creator Rod Serling. Read morePublished on June 6 2004 by Steven R. Travers
John Frankenheimer's masterpiece is probably one of the best political thrillers of all time. Burt Lancaster is superb in the role of General James Matoon Scott, Chairman of Joint... Read morePublished on Jan. 27 2004 by David
For whatever reasons, I am intrigued by films and television programs which offer recreations of Presidential activities which are presumably authentic. Read morePublished on July 23 2003 by Robert Morris
This is one of the great Cold War movies made during the '50's and '60's, and, like Fail Safe and Dr. Read morePublished on June 11 2003 by B. Causey
"Seven Days In May" has an impressive cast list, great direction, and great story.
For the MTV generation, this would probably be very boring as it relies on... Read more
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