Seven Days in May is a 1964 American political thriller film about a military-political cabal’s planned takeover of the United States government in reaction to the president’s negotiation of a disarmament treaty with the Soviet Union.
Directed by John Frankenheimer. With Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric March, Ava Gardner. United States military leaders plot to overthrow the President because he supports a nuclear disarmament treaty and they fear a Soviet sneak attack.
Based on the novel of the same name by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II, published in September 1962, the book was written in late 1961 and into early 1962, during the first year of the Kennedy administration, reflecting some of the events of that era. In November 1961, President John F. Kennedy accepted the resignation of vociferously anti-Communist General Edwin Walker who was indoctrinating the troops under his command with personal political opinions and had described former President Harry S. Truman, former United States Secretary of StateDean Acheson, former First LadyEleanor Roosevelt and other recent still-active public figures as Communist sympathisers.
Although no longer in uniform, Walker continued to be in the news as he ran for Governor of Texas and made speeches promoting strongly right-wing views. In the film version of Seven Days in May, Fredric March, portraying the narrative’s fictional President Jordan Lyman, mentions General Walker as one of the “false prophets” who were offering themselves to the public as leaders. (John F. Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald purportedly fired rifle shots into the home of General Walker in April 1963.)
President Kennedy had read Seven Days in May shortly after its publication and believed the scenario as described could actually occur in the United States.