“Seven Days in May” was made in 1963 and stars Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster in a story about a plot to overthrow the President of the United States. Lancaster plays a Curtis LeMay type figure who is appalled at the plans of the President (Played by Frederic March) to sign a deeply unpopular peace treaty with Russia. The movie is based on a book written by a journalist who, having interviewed a number of senior Pentagon figures, came to believe it was a viable proposition. Interestingly, President Kennedy (Who had removed a rightwing general, Edwin A. Walker, for openly advocating far-right policies whilst a serving officer) supported the making of the film, permitting filming outside the White House, a courtesy the Pentagon refused to extend to the filmakers.
What makes the movie, as in so many great motion pictures, is the moral greyness. Lancaster’s general has no doubts about the rightness of his cause, and indeed has the support of the public, whilst Douglas, who agrees with the general’s analysis of the treaty, nevertheless remains loyal to the constitution. An Oval Office confrontation between the president and the general is a high point of the movie, putting all the issues bluntly on the table, and unlike so many modern stories, it paints Lancaster, the nominal baddy, as a man whose patriotism even the president accepts. Both men are patriots, but fundamentally disagree as to the policy which will secure peace.