Seven Days in May
Screenplay: Rod Sterling
Release: Warner Archive
Seven Days in May has three of my favorite things; John Frankenheimer, Rod Sterling, and Kirk Douglas, blend and chill. There are few directors as good at political suspense than Frankenheimer and this film is another instance of his mastery.
A classic of suspense directed by John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate, Ronin) and written for the screen by Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone), Seven Days in May tautly explores that possibility. At odds are a popular general and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman (Burt Lancaster) and an unpopular president (Fredric March) with a pacifist agenda. At stake is the survival of the Republic. A vigilant colonel (Kirk Douglas) uncovers the scheme. But are the seven fateful days ahead enough time to derail a takeover? The clock is ticking.
In all fairness I have not watched all of Frankenheimer’s films so it is possible that he has directed something I might not go for but to date he is batting a thousand on the films I have watched. Seven Days in May is no different. Frankenheimer is one of those rare directors who know had to consistently ratchet up a film without giving the audience much time to rest or catch their breath unless he wants you to.
So how does Seven Days in May separate itself from, say, The Manchurian Candidate, which would probably be its closest competition?
Is it the cast? This is not necessarily an apples-to-apples contest. Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster outclass Laurence Harvey and Frank Sinatra, but nobody can hold a candle to Angela Lansbury performance.
Is it the hook? Both are coups, but Seven Days In May is less psychological and, perhaps, a bit more believable. Either way you look at it they are both very disconcerting.
The Manchurian Candidate scored higher at, 8.27 which puts it on a precarious edge to be on my top 25, but I absolutely suggest and recommend that both deserve to be in any collection, any shelf would be better served having both. It is the dizzying perfection of The Manchurian Candidates editing, and Lansbury, that lift the film.
You cannot go wrong ordering this film from WBShop.com and, while unfortunately this film is not available on WARNERARCHIVE.COM there are hours of great features ready for your attention.
I nearly forgot to mention that the picture quality of this release is spectacular and I suppose I am starting to expect nothing less from the Warner Archive. Lets presume that they will keep it up.
Commentary with Director John Frankenheimer
Director: 9 – Cinematography: 7 – Edit: 9 – Parity: 3 – Main performance: 10 – Else performance: 6 – Score: 6 – Sound: 5 – Story: 10 – Script: 10 – Effects: 7 – Design: 7 – Costumes: 7 – Keeps interest: 10 – Lasting: 10