The still-timely political debate is neatly conveyed in the opening scene of protestors marching outside the White House. One group is holding up signs that proclaim: “Peace on Earth or No Earth at all!” The other protestors wave posters with slogans like: “Don’t ban the bomb Stupid—Ban the Treaty.”
Part mystery, part suspense film, Seven Days in May is a rare motion picture in which the outcome is always in doubt until the climax. That uncertainty is a testament to Frankenheimer’s craftsmanship as a filmmaker. He also excels in making excellent use of his settings and in making time an important element in the film. Frankenheimer gives us a complete tour of the nation’s capitol—from the Pentagon’s chambers to the President’s study to dark alleyways where deals are made. And, after cueing us into the fact that something will happen on Sunday, he counts down each day, leading his characters to their inevitable confrontation.
|The man in the middle.|
Ironically, Seven Days in May was remade as the 1994 cable movie The Enemy Within, but it was not directed by Frankenheimer. The cast featured Sam Waterston as the President, Jason Robards as the general, and Forest Whitaker as Casey.