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Blu-ray Review Seven Days in May Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Richard Gallagher, May 11, 2017.

  1. Richard Gallagher

    Reviewer

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    Richard Gallagher

    Seven Days in May Blu-ray Review
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    Seven Days in May is a taut, intelligent thriller about an attempted military takeover of the United States government which has been beautifully brought to Blu-ray by the Warner Archive.

    [review]
     
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  2. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    Your positive views of this film mirror mine very closely and your less than thrilled reaction to the Holbrook character also matches mine. When ever I watch the film, I find it a chore to get thru that part.

    If I may, I would suggest that's it's not necessary to outline the plot so thoroughly. Once I saw the detail, I zipped down to where the plot points ended. Those experienced with the move don't need that and those who have not seen it, shouldn't have the much knowledge of the plot for their first viewing. A general idea of what the movie is about would suffice.

    Frankenheimer also did a great commentary for The Manchurian Candidate. He knew what he wanted to say and he said it. Wouldn't it have been great if Seven Days had been a Criterion?
     
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  3. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    The Eleanor Holbrook character in the film is ultimate a composite of two characters in the novel. In the novel, Eleanor Holbrook was a former mistress of married Jiggs Casey who was best friends with General Scott's former mistress and was able to get dirt on Scott that Lyman wouldn't used (in the novel it was Scott getting a tax break for his mistress rather than old love letters). To me the film wisely simplified this, and also by making Jiggs Casey unmarried it dispensed with another nuance that wouldn't have been necessary for the film (Casey is also a stronger character in the film by being a true believer in Scott who feels betrayed whereas in the novel he's a wishy-washy type who never really committed one way or the other to the treaty). But I do think Ava Gardner is really looking her age at this point and that her best days are now behind her (by contrast, just five years earlier in "On The Beach" she is radiant in her swimsuit scene).

    One bit of nuance though that I wish had *not* been lost from the novel is that Lyman learns at a key moment that in fact Scott was right and that the Soviets do intend to cheat on the treaty. The reason this plot point was important was because it allows Lyman to challenge Scott on what he would do to address something like this after seizing power and what Scott reveals turns out to be *exactly* what Lyman himself plans to do. Thus, Scott's motive would essentially have been for nothing except the destruction of the Constitution.

    This is a film I think can be tricky to discuss without intruding political arguments that can border on being off-limits. From a historical standpoint, I think it has to be said that "Seven Days In May" stands out to me more as a comment on a paranoid mentality that existed among early 1960s elites about how the greatest threat to our liberty and freedom potentially lay from the "super patriots" and the military. It is no surprise that the name of General Edwin Walker is invoked at one point but time ultimately proved that Walker was just a flash-in-the-pan figure whose ultimate fifteen seconds of fame is the fact that he was the first man Lee Harvey Oswald tried to kill with the rifle he would later use in Dallas. So from my standpoint, this film earns no points for having any meaningful insights on where America was going at that particular point in time. As to what sort of underlying points can be divined about our present-day society on things that don't have to do with the military, that is a subject best left untouched.
     
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  4. Carabimero

    Carabimero Producer
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    There are very few movies whose scenes I never get tired of watching. Maybe three movies. And this is one of them.
     
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  5. Richard Gallagher

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    The other difference is that in the novel there is a payoff to the information that Holbrook gets for Casey. That's why I feel that her involvement in the film is almost superfluous. Perhaps I would feel differently if I hadn't read the novel.
     
  6. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    I think they could easily eliminate the Holbrook character from the movie and it would be a better movie. But then it would have been a totally male-dominated movie and might have hurt it's box office.
     
  7. Richard Gallagher

    Reviewer

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    They could have swapped it out for the scenes in which Art Corwin tails General Scott to Mount Thunder, which is a pretty exciting section of the book. But as you suggest the box office rules, and the film was a big hit.
     
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  8. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    I just finished watching my copy. This was my first time viewing the film, and I have not read the book, so this is a completely new experience for me. With that in mind, the Holbrook character and story line did not bother me at all, although I wouldn't characterize as one of the highlights of the film. Of course, without having read the novel, I cannot comment on what other plot lines could have worked better. As others have said, though, I'm sure part of the reasoning for the character was to create a part for a prominent actress in an otherwise male-dominated story.

    As for my overall impression of the film, I can sum it up in a single word... Wow! I cannot believe this terrific movie has flown under my radar all these years. I thought the performances by both Lancaster and March were superb, and Frankenheimer was able to sustain the tension and suspense throughout the film. The black & white transfer looked excellent on my setup as well.
     
  9. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    I'm glad you mentioned it was a big hit, because I couldn't remember that. Being a quality move is no guarantee of selling tickets.
     
  10. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Stay tuned. Many films to experience
     
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  11. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    I just watched about 45' of the film and it looks beautiful, but for one thing. Bright or shiny or white things, a lot of them have the color of a pale gold. Mens collars, documents, walls or columns with enamel paint. Not all the time, not every scene, but very often they are pale gold.

    This is the first B&W film I've watched on my LG 65UH8500. I suppose this could be a calibration problem.
     
  12. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    That sounds like the Contrast (white level) is too high on your LG.
     
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  13. haineshisway

    haineshisway Producer

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    Yes, absolutely a problem with his TV - whites are WHITE, baby.
     
  14. Reggie W

    Reggie W Producer

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    Personally I think this is a must own but I will admit to loving political thrillers. This is a great one and comes with a great cast. I am probably thought of as a pain in the ass around here due to my many complaints about the writing in films of the last 20 or more years. Truth is though that is because I grew up watching films like this...which is brilliantly written. It annoys me to no end that so much of what comes out today is boilerplate repetitive nonsense when it comes to the scripts. Rod Serling knew how to compose a script...beautiful, tight, compelling and intelligent writing. There is not a wasted line in this film really and they all work toward creating a fascinating piece of work.

    Where are our Rod Serlings of today? Our Paddy Chayefskys? Would these guys ever even get a script shot in today's environment?

    OK, sorry for going there but if you want to watch a film that is beautifully written, with a tremendous sense of plot, character, pacing, and dialogue...well...here's one. And again, sorry for my lament.
     
  15. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    I will be checking into it. I was assuming it was my TV.
     
  16. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    There was one plot point that bugged me a little about this otherwise terrific film -- the Sunday running of the Preakness, which was a critical piece of the plot. The Preakness has never been run on a Sunday -- it's always held on a Saturday. I know this is a work of fiction, but it's still seems like lazy writing. Some other event could have been used, or even more simply the timeline for everything could have been moved up one day to account for the race being on Saturday.
     
  17. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    I think I've read the director was to blame. He decided he wanted to start the movie on a Monday and belatedly realized that caused a problem with the race.
     
  18. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    At least Frankenheimer didn't move the Super Bowl to July for his film Black Sunday .:lol:
     
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  19. Worth

    Worth Cinematographer

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    They'd be working in television today. Something like Network would never get made as a feature now, but it's not too much of a stretch to imagine it on HBO. In fact, I think most of the big names in film from the '70s would be working in television now - Coppola, Scorsese, Woody Allen, Sidney Lumet, Friedkin, Alan J. Pakula and Frankenheimer.
     
  20. Reggie W

    Reggie W Producer

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    It is funny how at one point films were thought of as works of art and it was more prestigious to work on films and television was thought to be more throwaway populist entertainment...and now that has flipped.

    If you want to work on something big and meaningful with real impact...work in television. If you want to do fluff, work in film. This is why it does not surprise me at all that David Lynch has said he won't make another film.
     
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