The Missiles of October (18-Dec-1974)|
Director: Anthony Page
Writer: Stanley R. Greenberg
Based on a book: Thirteen Days by Robert F. Kennedy
Keywords: Drama, Washington DC
Review by Arthur (posted on 28-Sep-2007)
First, here's some technical information. "The Missiles of October" is a 1974 or '74 ABC-TV/Viacom television movie running at 155 minutes, probably a miniseries, shot on videotape in NTSC. The DVD version is an NTSC version. The picture quality of the DVD is extremely good considering the age and means of the production.
I'm not sure about some of the information about what written material this movie was based on, but immediate informal research concludes that this movie was based partly on John F. Kennedy's book "Thirteen Days" about the Cuban Missile Crisis. If you remember this name somehow, it's probably due to the book's remake into a movie in 2000 (premiered in 1999) with the same title by director Roger Donaldson, with Kevin Costner in a co-starring role.
The name is a reference to a book entitled "The Guns of August," a book about the Great War (a.k.a. WWI) addressing problems of the combination of the "real politik" philosophical paradigm, the German words for realism--a study of politics from the linking of the world through self-interest and armed conflict--with the virtue of the paradigm of idealism. Since the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred in October, the movie's name, "The Missiles of October," is a comment on the former to denote the potential seriousness of the incidents in this crisis which were mainly in the drama of JFK's decisions to avert nuclear war against the communistic U.S.S.R.
The movie has an exceptional cast, and a large one, with actors with long and noticeable careers in cinema long before 1973, even in the days of black-and-white. Otherwise, Soviet Premier Khrushchev is played by Howard DaSilva, who had memorably co-starred in the film version of the stage musical "1776" playing Ben Franklin, the delegate and inventor; in Joseph Losey's film "M"; and, in "The Great Gatsby" with Robert Redford. Also, John Kennedy's brother Robert is played by Martin Sheen, and he had went on to star in "Apocalypse Now" and several other films.
The thirteen days of the Cuban Missile Crisis has since become a subject of study, and this film should be recommended to anyone studying this moment of history, because it is a very literary translation, playing out with the drama being solely located in the scripts themselves: both the screenplay script and the actual international relations scripts from which this movie seems to borrow so much.
In comparison between this 1974 television movie to the 2000 film version, the t.v. movie is very talky, but still manages quite well to pull off the drama which is mostly in the script. The film version has the same dramatic themes obviously, but they are much more well-funded with expensive shots of military crafts both air and sea, an even larger cast, and never-before-seen footage of real nuclear explosions, this time in beautifully full color film rather than the black-and-white stock for the videotaped t.v. movie. The theatrical film version lacks the character of the Soviet Premier, and so it seems much less "talky" than the t.v. version. The t.v. version had already made JFK as the central figure only to tell the story in dramatic sequence rather than in defense of him since it is based on JFK's book, so his characterization is like a lion, as this method is the best way to tell the story that is virtually his anyway. If it had not done this with his perspective, it would've decreased the suspense. The television movie deserves a lot of credit for being able to maintain that suspense through the excellent cast and script, much of which is taken from historic speeches. Ultimately, the t.v. movie is about how JFK had de-pressurized the system, where the film version does this much more in such a way as to imprint an image of JFK in memory.
In result of the historical events as they are portrayed in the t.v. movie, the JFK character mentions his own lack of air support in the Bay of Pigs invasion. It connects the Soviet Premier's placement of missiles in Cuba as a partial belief of the impotence of a U.S. president that is younger than his first son. Nevertheless, with JFK responding by cutting off Cuba from the Soviets, the Americans and the Soviets begin towing the line, in addition to the nuclear threat, as JFK is not only aware of the nuclear missiles the Soviets have placed in Cuba, but is threatening to attack on the moment those missiles become operational. Finally, after military maneuvers and the sole casualty of an American spy plane, the two leaders finally defuse the situation on agreement, in-turn avoiding nuclear war.
Considering history outside of the movie, it could be theorized that the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the subsequent removal of a U.S. base in Turkey, and a decision to remove troops from Vietnam had been reasons for a CIA retaliatory assassination of JFK, as it had commonly done so in covert "black" operations around the world. And so, this movie has significance from a perspective of international relations history, additional to the events of the movie, in that time period where these things happened. The movie seems very close in its historical reference, and the spoken words are from speeches of the political figures represented in this movie.
Review by anonymous (posted on 8-May-2006)
I did not enjoy this
movie at all. This entire dialogue was monotoned and the atmosphere and
background were extremely dull. The movie was missing something... good
actors, good plot (even though it is based on what happened in the
White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis); they still could have
made it more interesting than what it came to be.
Review by Michael F Smith (posted on 26-Aug-2008)
This movie is great. It lacks the distraction of background and scenery allowing you to focus on the plot and the gravity of the situation as it unfolds. The reaction of the various participants and the seriousness of this drama are well conveyed however one must ust a little imaginatioin. A lost art in this age of digital enhancement and fictional conspiracy. The facts as they are presented in this film are as accurate as could be released during the time period wich it was released and I found thw acting a superb compensation for the movies lack of useless timeperiod window dressing which so plagued its sucessor 13 days the movie. I recomend it for its honesty, simplicity, and artistic improvisation.
A epic of american media and a testiment to when TV was good.
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