Available on dual-format Blu-Ray/ DVD
Former Air Force General Dell (Burt Lancaster) has infiltrated Silo 3, a nuclear missile launch site. We has circumvented the security inhibitors and is threatening all-out nuclear catastrophe. There is something a bit off – it’s meant to be Montana but it’s filmed in Germany (there is a profusion of very un-American Ford Capris). There is also some unnerving split screen. Dell wants to teach the top brass a lesson. He suffered PTSD in Vietnam and was framed for murder. Now he’s escaped and involved two ex-cons who have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The effing and blinding Lancaster with his finger on the button horribly over-acts the part.
Dell also wants to speak to the president (an ineffectual Jeb Bush type played by Charles Durning). He demands money, safe passage out and the publication of a National Security report on the war which explicitly reveals shameful American war secrets. Dell admits to being ‘radicalised’ in a ‘Nam prison camp. If the administration does not comply, Dell will launch nine ICBMs. The entire world is in danger. Despite a multitude of coloured telephones and considering the magnitude of events the Joint Chiefs (Joseph Cotton, Melvyn Douglas and Richard Widmark all but wasted here) sit around a table in the Oval Office in remarkably sedate mode. They are as solid and immovable as Mount Rushmore. The dialogue’s hewn out of granite too. How might Hillary or The Donald have dealt with this scenario?
There are hints that a legal/diplomatic/moral coup may be underway but Aldrich doesn’t want to seem to go there. It would have been a more interesting film had he had. The CIA man suggests that releasing the report will destroy the credibility of America (Mr Trump is in danger of doing that already). While the president considers the country to be great enough to survive the truth.
The premise is a bit ludicrous (maybe the book on which the film is based was better) with as many loose ends as a hearthside rug. The trouble is, thanks to House of Cards, Homeland, and even the taking out of Osama bin Laden and the unedifying 2016 election, audiences have a far better understanding of the machinations of the White House today than they did when Twilight’s Last Gleaming was made.