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"A voice next to me said, "do you intend to make a movie out of Seven Days in May?"
I turned. President Kennedy! "Yes, Mr. President."
"Good." He spent the next twenty minutes, while our dinner got cold, telling me that he thought it would make an excellent movie." (Ragman's Son, 349)
History caught up with Kirk Douglas's production of Seven Days in May. Based on a 1962 best-selling novel by Charles V. Bailey and Fletcher Knebel, it revealed a plot to overthrow US President Jordan Lyman (Frederic March) by members of his own administration, led by conspirators Gen. James Mattoon Scott (Burt Lancaster) and narrowly foiled by Col. Martin "Jiggs" Casey, played by Douglas. Set in the then-distant future of 1974, it seemed to reflect the real-life clash between General Curtis Le May and President John F. Kennedy over the Cuban missile crisis. A Universal executive declined to consider it because of the negative image it might project abroad. "If…the Executive branch of the Government were to encourage the making of this film, I'd certainly be happy to reconsider it with you at that time," he wrote.
Apparently Douglas got the go-ahead he needed directly from the President himself. Rod Serling adapted the novel to the screen and John Frankenheimer not only directed but took a co-production interest. A letter to Douglas from Leon Kaplan, his business/legal advisor, demonstrates the complex partnership and financing arrangements that underlay independent production in the early 1960s. Promotion began long before production even started. In an early example of product placement, special arrangements were made with Bulova for the provision of its state of the art Accutron wristwatches for the picture.
Douglas sent the screenplay out for comment to various interested and influential figures. Authors Bailey and Knebel suggested a long list of improvements and Douglas's former director Stanley Kubrick also made suggestions. The care that Douglas himself took in shaping the film's message can be seen in a long memo to Bryna head producer Edward Lewis reacting to one of the first cuts of the film.
However, by the time the film was released in February 1964, the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas the preceding November made it seem strangely prescient. Douglas watched the reviews carefully, with particular attention to reactions in Europe, where it proved a considerable success. In the end, Douglas and his company successfully negotiated the pitfalls inherent in such controversial and timely subject matter. The film received a Blue Ribbon Award from the National Screen Council and was nominated for 2 Academy Awards. Edmond O'Brian won a Golden Globe for his supporting role as Senator Raymond Clark. Serling received a nomination from the Writers Guild of America for his screenplay.
-- Michele Hilmes, University of Wisconsin-Madison
frethead said:Can anyone tell me about Curtis LeMay. I mean what are his credentials for being a general. Did he rise through the ranks or was he a CEO of a corporation or whatever. Seems to me he was ready to play fast and loose with other peoples lives.
Can anyone tell me about Curtis LeMay. I mean what are his credentials for being a general. Did he rise through the ranks or was he a CEO of a corporation or whatever. Seems to me he was ready to play fast and loose with other peoples lives.
Curtis Emerson LeMay was born in Columbus, Ohio, on 15th November 1906. He studied civil engineering at Ohio State University. LeMay joined the United States Air Corps in 1928. Two years later he was commissioned as a second lieutenant.
In January 1937 he joined the Air Force GHQ at Langley Field. He was a co-pilot of a B-24 Liberator that in August 1941 made a record-breaking flight of almost 25,000 miles. On the plane was W. Averell Harriman, who was on a survey of routes the Ferrying Command would use to deliver Lend Lease to the Soviet Union.
When the United States entered the Second World War after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, LeMay was a lieutenant colonel and commander of the 305th Bomb Group. Five months later he was given the responsibility of taking the B-17 Flying Fortress unit to England. While based in England he pioneered daylight bombing, which the RAF had abandoned as it resulted in the deaths of too many men.
LeMay developed special defensive tactics that included tight formations for mutual support. He was also an advocate pattern bombing from lower altitudes. These tactics were fairly successful and the 305 Bomb Group lost only 13 planes in 25 missions.
The introduction of P-47 Thunderbolt fighters made B-17 Flying Fortress missions much more effective. On 17th August 1943 LeMay led 126 B-17 aircraft to bomb Germany before being refueled in North Africa. On their return flight they attacked the Focke-Wulf plant in Bordeaux...
Curtis LeMay was promoted to brigadier general on 28th September 1943. The following year he took over the 20th Bomb Group. Starting in August 1944, Lemay organized the bombing of targets in China, Manchuria and Japan.
Curtis LeMay was involved in the discussions concerning the use of the B-29 Stratafortress bomber to drop the atom bomb on Japan. He helped select the targets of Hiroshima (6th August) and Nagasaki (9th August). On 10th August the Japanese surrendered. The Second World War was over.
After the war Major General LeMay commanded the USAF in Europe. In 1948 he directed the highly complex Berlin Airlift. In 1951 LeMay became the youngest full general in American history since Ulysses S. Grant.
In 1949, LeMay was appointed as head of Strategic Air Command (SAC) and is credited with overseeing its transformation into a modern air force. LeMay was appointed Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force in July 1957, serving until 1961 when he was made the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force. In this post he clashed repeatedly with President John F. Kennedy and his Secretary of Defence, Robert McNamara...