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Opening today: “Seven Days in May”

Feb. 12, 1964 - Opening today is “Seven Days in May,” a political thriller set in the year 1970 about a military-political cabal’s planned takeover of the U.S. government in reaction to the president’s negotiation of a disarmament treaty with the Soviet Union. The film, starring Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric March, and Ava Gardner, was directed by John Frankenheimer from a screenplay written by Rod Serling based on the novel of the same name by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II, published in September 1962.

The book reflects some of the events of the first year of the Kennedy Administration. In November 1961, President Kennedy accepted the resignation of vociferously anti-Communist general Edwin Walker, who had been indoctrinating the troops under his command with radical right-wing ideas. In the film, Fredric March, portraying fictional president Jordan Lyman, mentions Walker as one of the “false prophets” who were offering themselves to the public as leaders.

The authors of the novel also conducted interviews with another controversial military commander, the newly appointed Air Force chief of staff Curtis LeMay, who was angry with President Kennedy for refusing to provide air support for the Cuban rebels in the Bay of Pigs invasion. The character of General James Mattoon Scott (Lancaster) was believed to have been inspired by both LeMay and Walker.



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