Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977)

Twilight's Last GleamingThere are some political thrillers that become "classics" ("The Manchurian Candidate," "Seven Days in May," and "Fail Safe," for example) while others fade into obscurity. "Twilight's Last Gleaming," unfortunately, falls into the latter category, although it deserves wider recognition and viewership.

Burt Lancaster portrays a looney general determined to right a wrong committed by the U.S. government: reveal the real reason behind the War in Vietnam and America's cover-up of this vital information. Commanding three fellow "terrorists" (Burt Young, Paul Winfield, and William Smith), Lancaster takes over a missile silo with the intention of launching it if the government doesn't "fess up" to the American public.

Richard Widmark also portrays a general that must thwart Lancaster's efforts. Charles Dunning is a beleagured President that must decide whether it is essential for the country's future if the information is revealed. His Cabinet is made up of familiar character actors Gerald S. O'Loughlin, Leif Ericson, William Marshall, Charles McGraw, Simon Scott, Joseph Cotten, and Melvin Douglas.

The tension is high in this superior thriller, aided by a stunning Jerry Goldsmith score, split-screen camerawork, and tight direction from Robert Aldrich.

The shocking ending makes this a film deserving of discovery.

I haven't seen this movie since it came out over 30 years ago, but not from lack of trying. There are either legal issues preventing it's re-release or else, as this film itself wants to convince, the powers that be do not want anyone to see it.

Robert Aldrich had already made his great moral parable about the insanity of the Vietnam War with Ulzana's Raid (1972) and now, five years later, he was to team up with Burt Lancaster once again for a full frontal assault. The Lancaster-Aldrich team is right up there with the great actor-director teams of American cinema: Deniro-Scorsese, Lemon-Wilder, Dietrich-Von Sternberg, Scott-Boetticher. This time they add Richard Widmark as Lancaster's nemesis and then get some of the best character actors of the era to contribute some of their finest performances Roscoe Lee Browne, Joseph Cotten, Melvyn Douglas, Richard Jaeckel, Paul Winfield, a very young Burt Young, and especially noteworthy Charles Durning in what might be his best role as that of the very human President Stevens.

The story is totally improbable, the momentum unstoppable and the action breathtaking with the finest use of split screen ever seen in a Hollywoood movie (a technique Aldrich employed to good effect in The Longest Yard a few years earlier.)

I won't say this a a great movie, or even a good movie. I will say this is an important movie to see, made by America's greatest anarchist action filmmaker, and should not be missed, even though it's not possible to find. Call your congressman.

Buy Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977) Now

I saw this picture with my father in the theater. Now I could kick myself for not buying it on video. This picture was probably lumped in with male/ testosterone action flicks and over looked by the public at the box office. The movie is a cat and mouse thriller with Burt Lancaster grabbing the White Houses' attention by controlling a missle silo/bunker complex. As a former Air Force General with high security clearance, he knows how to complete the mission. The film is a study on why a decorated General threatens to start WW III.

On the opposite side of the fence lies the President, played by Charles Durning whose aim is to stop him. The supporting actors are outstanding on all accounts, Richard Widmark, Paul Winfield, Burt Young, Melvin Douglas, to name a few. The actors making up the presidents cabinet are outstanding. The cabinet/advisors must decide is the General a mad man or can he pull off his threat of missle launch. What is his agenda?

The suspense builds thru the picture, can a missle launch be aborted by negotiation, stealth, or brute force. The ending is a shocker, uncompromising, a statement on what happens in a political chess match. The military advisor tells the president, the buck stops here.... you are responsible, even for past transgressions from a previous presidency.


Read Best Reviews of Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977) Here

I must be one of the few that thoroughly enjoyed this film from 1977. Burt Lancaster leads a team of disgruntled vets (Burt Young, Paul Winfield, and William Smith) on an assault on a missile silo, overcoming the personnel and, eventually, obtaining launch control. With his hands on the trigger of a Titan missile, former (and slightly deranged) General Dell (Lancaster) wants the President (Charles Durning) and his Cabinet to issue a statement admitting negligence in the involvement in the Viet Nam conflict. Such release would be devastating to the nation; thus Durning and company try to devise a plan to satisfy Dell, protect the integrity of the government, and not start a nuclear war.

A tense game of cat-and-mouse erupts between Lancaster, Durning, and Richard Widmark as the general in charge of "taking" Lancaster and friends.

Great performances from the principals abound; the film also features several veteran character actors in small supporting roles: Joseph Cotten, Leif Ericson, Charles McGraw, and William Marshall.

An effective Jerry Goldsmith score adds immensely to the unfolding drama.

Want Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977) Discount?

I don't believe it!!! Been waiting for this one for a long, long time.

A fascinating thriller starring Burt Lancaster as renegade General Lawrence Dell who escapes from a military prison and hijacks an ICBM silo with three compatriots played by Burt Young, Paul Winfield and William Smith. Their demands: 10 million dollars, Air Force One, and a hostage, the President.

An exciting political thriller from start to finish. This is a movie you can't miss. Richard Widmark and Charles Durning are just a few others in this stellar cast with great performances all around.

This is the movies first release on DVD and Blu-ray in the United States so hopefully it will be a good transfer. Previous versions have been released in Brazil but quality was equivalent to a VHS tape.

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