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  • I find this movie now on DVD one of the most compelling works of art it has ever been my pleasure to behold. This movie is from the less is more school. No high tech camera angles and silly special effects get in your way here. No stupid insipid love story tangles its way through the plot where some couple must give you today's obligatory R Rated steamy love scene at some point when you just wished the action would go on. This movie is just cold hearts, raw nerves, hardened steal will's of both sides exposed in abundance as the world of the early 1960's creeped toward thermonuclear oblivion in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    Brinksmanship and a world tittering on the brink of a testosterone cliff a fall from which guranteed no return to life as it existed before is what this movie was about. Missiles of October is told in a play format. The sets are obviously sets so you do not waste your time on the decorations of the people or the places. You simply are given a reference of where you are by the set. The real action is the dialogue the intrique in the tangled the goings on. This movie works on a level of raw emotion. The missiles of October is a movie stripped bare of the heavy syrup and confectionary sugar laden movies of today. The Missiles of October does not spoon feed the audience each moment of their movie experience till only one rather inexcapable formulalic conclusion offered by the screen writer can be reached.

    The Cuban Missile Crisis was a series of mis-steps wrong judgement calls and finally at the 11th hour some common sense where. In this movie both sides The Soviet Union and the United States had to get off their high horses and admit we together do not want to end human kinds existence as a species on this earth and take almost every other living thing with us as we exit. The fact that the set's look deliberately cheesy and the acting is done as a play just makes the truly superior acting stand out and grab you all that much more. Oh to say I was pleased with The Missiles of October is to dabble in understatement up past your neck for I in all ways loved it such that I can not be without two copies of this in my home. One to watch and one to keep in a safe fire resistant place. The Missile's of October blew me away because it is true, this happened in real life. I was just a baby at the time but I lived through this time. This movie in play format is awesome because the acting was first rate and people this was high drama life or death stakes would have affected all of us had it gone wrong because it was all real life baby and no movie gets any better than that in my humble opinion.

    Oh and its like way educational too so buy this one its one of the WOLF's major must haves like number one on my serious subjects list.
  • The Title 'The Missiles Of October' was a play on the title of the book 'The Guns Of August' by Barbara Wertheim Tuchman which deals with the precipitant events leading to World War I and the enormous tragedy resulting from the inability of the principal player's to diplomatically side-step one of history's most tragic chapters. I was a child at the time of the Cuban missile crisis but I remember clearly the dread we all felt during those tension filled days when literally the fate of the world was hanging in the balance.

    'The Missiles Of October' was a Hallmark Hall Of Fame special presentation and was based on Theodore Sorensen's book 'Kennedy' [the chapter entitled 'The Cuban Missile Crisis']. The TV production captured perfectly the story as told by Sorensen, who was part of Kennedy's staff at the time and was present at most of the meetings taking place prior, and subsequent to Kennedy's revelation to the world of America's knowledge of the Russian missiles in Cuba and our intent to have them removed.

    I HIGHLY recommend this film as one of the most riveting stories you will ever see ... fascinating, mesmerizing, haunting, and would have made great fiction if it were not ABSOLUTELY TRUE.
  • Roman1124 June 2003
    10/10
    WOW!
    This really impressed me when first I viewed it in '74. The real standout was William Devane as JFK. One of the most realistic pieces of casting and portrayls I've seen! Only on the close ups could you tell that it was Devane. His accent and demeanour were perfection. In other words he was JFK!

    Everyone else was superb as was the story, camera work, direction etc. The casting was brilliant and more than that REAL! This was truly a winner from start to finish.
  • This is the best docudrama, and quite possibly the best drama, ever made. Forget the blatant revisionism of the Kennedies that's come in vogue, The Missilies of October is the real story of how Jack Kennedy and Nikita Khruschev faced down their generals and conservative wings and pulled the world back from the brink of Armageddon.

    Just before the missile crisis breaks, Kennedy read The Guns of October – an historical work about how the great powers simply stumbled into World War I. It wasn't inevitable; it could have been avoided, but no country would give another room to back down without appearing to capitulate.

    Bobby Kennedy plays the whip to bring the powerful and contentious men who make up JFK's cabinet, political allies and military leadership into an uneasy consensus around a blockade of Cuba, instead of an invasion. JFK gives Khruschev room to maneuver at every turn, and Khruschev is smart enough to see these openings and take them. Neither side gets what it wants; both sides get what they can live with.

    Ralph Bellamy, Nehemiah Persoff, John Dehner, Andrew Duggan, Peter Donat, Dana Elcar, Stewart Moss, Harris Yulin and more give excellent performances. William DeVane as JFK, Martin Sheen as RFK and Howard DaSilva as Khruschev are absolutely brilliant. The script and direction are equal to the fine performances of the cast.

    Watch this movie and ponder where we'd be if the Bush cabinet had learned these lessons before they started playing power politics.
  • This is probably the best filmed analysis ever of the events of October, 1962; as both a dramatic story and filmed history, it rises far above the recent Kenvin Costner movie "Thirteen Days", which was about the same cataclysmic event.

    Significant in this version of the Cuban Missile Crisis is the portrayal of Nikita Khrushchev and his advisors, showing us some (though obviously not all) of the high level discussions on the Soviet side of the fence. The late Howard Da Silva is remarkably expressive as Khrushchev and Nehemiah Persoff excellent as Andrei Gromyko, his foreign minister.

    Other cast standouts include the late John Dehner as Dean Acheson; Martin Sheen as Robert F. Kennedy; Andrew Duggan as JCS Chairman Maxwell Taylor; Ralph Bellamy as Adlai Stevenson; and, in a performance unmatched elsewhere by anyone, William Devane as John F. Kennedy.

    Although anyone viewing this movie should be warned that this is docudrama and that the real history of the Cuban Missile Crisis is far more complex than even this movie shows us, it is one of, if not the, best historical recreation TV has ever given us. A definite must-see for anyone truly interested in cold-war politics.
  • Some have berated the "The Missiles of October" for being over-long. Nonsense! (One genius who complained did, however, like the performance of "Marin Short". Sounds like a 12 year-old. Hey, maybe he is!) It would have been over-long if it were a boring story with boring performances. But "The Missiles of October" is neither. The story is, of course, riveting, whether you were around during the early sixties or not. And the performances - the guy who cast the three main characters, JFK (William Devane), RFK (Martin Sheen) and Khrushchev (Howard Da Silva), should have got an Emmy. Martin Sheen may have over-done Bobby Kennedy a bit, but it should be noted, that RFK's "Kennedy accent" was much thicker than JFK's, almost to the point of self-caricature.

    Nor is the film "dated," as another reviewer would have it. The TV claustrophobic atmosphere is in perfect keeping with the tight, closed, suffocating tension which actually existed in the real situation. The crisis did not occur out of doors, or in halls - it occurred in a few rooms.

    "The Missiles of October" possesses the hallmark of classic drama: though you may know how it ends, you want to watch it again and again.
  • A must-see depiction of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. Focusing mostly on the Kennedy administration, this made-for-TV movie captures all the tension and emotion occurring inside the White House. It gives a real insider's view of how the American government operates. It also takes you inside the Kremlin giving you a glimpse how both sides dealt with the crisis. William Devane and Martin Sheen give excellent performances as Jack and Bobby Kennedy. The entire cast is top-notch. Don't bother with Thirteen Days, it pales by comparison. This is the real deal.
  • Superseded in recent years by the Hollywood production "Thirteen Days" starring Kevin Costner, this 1974 made-for-TV movie was for years the best available dramatization of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. A compelling presentation, it has the feel of watching live theater. Although we know more of the historical facts now regarding this particular event in history, this film should still be watched. What I like best about the film, however, is this: In my opinion, William Devane does a better job portraying President John F. Kennedy than any other actor I've ever seen. He's simply excellent! I would like to have seen him do JFK in a bigger production. Interestingly, Martin Sheen, who plays Robert F. Kennedy in this film, later played JFK in a TV miniseries that came out on the 20th anniversary of the assassination (1983). Now, of course, Sheen plays the fictional President Bartlet in the popular TV series "West Wing". Overall, Devane is much better in this film and, compared with Sheen's later work, Devane is a much more convincing JFK.
  • This isn't going to be everybody's favorite movie. The production values don't shoot out the lights. All the sets are indoors. There's no motion to speak of. The whole shebang seems static and talky.

    Yet it's an important document and in some ways well done. If much of the dialog sounds stilted it's because it was taken from official sources. So we get a lot of formal speech and very little in the way of offhand nudges. But the acting, at least in the important roles, is really pretty good. DeVane as JFK, Martin Sheen as his brother Bobby, and Howard DaSilva as Krushchev are outstanding.

    Most impressive is the way this film takes us back to what now seems almost like a Golden Age, despite the missile crisis and the insanity of Mutual Assured Destruction.

    It was a time when a president would make certain that the meetings were attended by an old Cold Warrior, Dean Acheson, even though Acheson was presumed to represent a dated point of view and was only a private citizen at the time, because the president wanted to hear all points of view during brainstorming sessions.

    In discussing those planning sessions, Robert MacNamara describes President Kennedy leaning towards military action in order to save face, and one of the participants saying to him, "Mister President, you're wrong." ("That took guts," says MacNamara in Errol Morris's documentary, "The Fog of War.") I was in school at the time of these events and no one knew anything except what was released to the media. If we'd known how close we were to war I believe church attendance would have soared.

    Many incidents and coincidences came together to get the world out of that tight spot, chief among them the reluctance of both sides to engage in war. Both Krushchev and Kennedy had a pretty good idea of how that worked. JFK had written a book about it. More than that, imagine a president who is able to muse that he recently finished reading Barbara Tuchman's history of the accidental beginning of World War I, "The Guns of August". "If I could do it, I'd send a copy to every commanding officer aboard the blockading destroyers -- not that they'd read it." The resolution of the conflict, despite missteps and mistakes on both sides, hinged on a single event. Krushchev, depressed, wrote an ameliorative letter to Kennedy, saying that he understood Kennedy's position, and that he, Krushchev was willing to dismantle the Cuban missiles in return for a guarantee that the USA would neither launch nor aid any invasion of Cuba in the future. (Using anti-Castro Cubans, we had invaded the island at the Bay of Pigs, which was a miserable failure.) At last both sides seemed to have what they wanted. The USA was getting rid of the missile threat, and the USSR was getting a guarantee of Cuba's sovereignty.

    Alas, under political pressure from his "war camp" at home, Krushcheve wrote a second letter, much harder in tone, reneging on earlier proposals and adding demands which the USA could not grant. Two mutually conflicting proposals a day apart. What to do? What they did was follow Robert Kennedy's suggestion. They ignored the second letter and responded only to the first. More fumbles and confusion followed but the crisis was eventually resolved with both sides compromising, but not in ways that jeopardized their own defenses.

    The crisis required -- and got -- deft handling at the top and cautious but effective diplomacy. That's why I used the expression "Golden Age" before.

    As drama, this isn't much. No villains, no fist fights, and not a gun in sight. Yet for its educational value alone, in our somewhat history-shy culture, it ought to be seen by everyone, especially now.
  • This made for TV picture got rave reviews when it came out in 74. William Devane does a great job in his portrayal of JFK. Martin Sheen was also good as RFK. Howard Da Silva not to be overlooked as Nikita Khrushchev. When viewed today the filming technique may seem dated and dull but if that can be overlooked the content of the film is still powerful. Additionally it's all based on an actual historic event.
  • Hallmark Hall of Fame had many fine presentations, and the Missiles of October was one. It's the story of the Cuban missile crisis. There is a more modern film depicting the same time, Thirteen Days, which is also excellent, and had the advantage of the actual transcripts, which were released in the '80s. Back to that later. The Missiles of October goes into much details about not only both sides, but the negotiations.

    The Missiles of October starred William Devane as JFK, Martin Sheen as RFK, Ralph Bellamy as Adlai Stevenson, Howard da Silva as Khrushchev, John Dehner as Dean Acheson, along with other character actors of the time - Dana Elcar, James T. Callahan, Peter Donat, Michael Lerner, and Andrew Duggan.

    I will admit that after the first scene, which was so stilted, with everybody sounding as if they were giving a speech, I was prepared to hate this movie. After that, the film changed considerably as we got to see more of Kennedy. The film is carried beautifully by William Devane's brilliant performance as JFK. He really is the man - charming, with a sense of humor, tough, thoughtful, and demanding when he needs to be.

    The first thing that's obvious, as it was obvious in Thirteen Days, was that the joint chiefs hated Kennedy, thought he was too young to be President, and wanted to bomb the hell out of Cuba and thought he was idiot for not approving it. There was a criticism of Thirteen Days that Kennedy "seemed to lean heavily on his advisors." Yeah. And why not? If I were going to start World War III, I'd get some advice too. Kennedy was very, very careful - he did not want to bomb Cuba and start a war.

    The film shows the tension as negotiations fail, ships run the barricade, an airman is shot down -- it was less tense for me as someone who lived through it, but if you didn't, it is very suspenseful and scary.

    Everyone was good, and I nearly fainted when Michael Lerner walked in as Pierre Salinger - boy, did they get the casting perfect on that one! Martin Sheen was a little problematic for me. First of all, when a person ages, his or her voice drops, so to hear this higher voice coming out of Sheen was jarring, plus I felt his accent was just a touch too much. The camaraderie between JFK and RFK was expertly shown.

    I would recommend both films. William Devane remains today one of our finest actors, perhaps underrated because he had a minimal film career. The Missiles of October made his reputation, and rightly so. A performance that needs to be seen.

    One more thing. I looked up when the transcripts were released, and the article said that they were released over time "because it takes 100 hours to transcribe one hour of tape." I was a transcriber for 35 years. It takes 3-4 hours if you're transcribing a lot of people talking. Don't know where 100 hours comes from. Obviously in the case of something so important, someone would have to listen to the tapes to proofread the transcript, but that would take only one hour. Oh well.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The Cuban Missile Crisis of Oct. 16-28, 1962, was the closest the world came to nuclear war. It began when the U.S. discovered that the Soviet Union was building nuclear missile sites in Cuba. The U.S. set up an ocean blockade to stop any further Russian war shipments going to the country. The Soviet-Cuban work continued on 35 missile sites. When the first became operational, the U.S. was ready to bomb the sites and launch a ground attack on Cuba. The crisis ended when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev capitulated. He agreed to withdraw all Soviet missiles from Cuba in exchange for the U.S. promise never to invade Cuba.

    People should be wary of sources that describe the basis for the event otherwise. The Encyclopedia Britannica article describes it succinctly. It says it was a "major confrontation that brought the United States and the Soviet Union close to war over the presence of Soviet nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba."

    "The Missiles of October" is a TV movie of the event, based on Robert Kennedy's 1969 book, titled "Thirteen Days." This is a fine dramatization with a huge cast of prominent actors. They portray key roles of people involved in the crisis. They include Pres. John F. Kennedy, White House staff, the Cabinet, and congressional leaders. Others are top military officers and members of the press. On the Soviet side are Premier Nikita Khrushchev and other Russian leaders.

    This film is a good historical look at the event and near worldwide disaster. It shows the struggles of government leaders as they wrestle with the crisis and try to establish détente. It gives a good picture of the stress of those in authority dealing with crises, including the differences of views among people.

    For generations long after the Cold War, this film can be a poignant reminder of a scary time in history. The world truly came very close to nuclear war and disaster. All of the cast do a fine job in portraying the key figures of the time. The production is very well done. It shows the details of the crisis from both sides of it, although much of the Soviet internal concerns must be conjecture on Kennedy's part.
  • I came home from school one day and my mother said, "We may be at war!" The standoff between the Kennedys and Nikita Krueschev as missiles were on their way to Cuba is one of the single most dramatic events we have ever faced. It could have easily led to annihilation. The casting in this made for television event is outstanding. Each of the actors must have been honored to play the real life characters, because they hit the ball solidly. William Devane and Martin Sheen are wonderful as the Kennedys. We have to remember that while our leaders have an obligation to us, these men were filled with fear and trepidation. Howard de Silva makes a terrific Russian premier as the volatile Krueschev. But what works the best is a tension that is palpable throughout. I don't know if there has ever been a more outstanding portrayal of real events done in any form. If you ever get a chance to see this, don't miss it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As powerful and timely now as it was then and I agree it's something ALL world leaders should be required to view at least once a year! It's also much more genuine than Thirteen Days in which producer Kevin Costner inflated his role to make it appear that his character, Kenny McConnell, was closer to JFK than his own brother,the AG,Robert(the ONLY TIME nepotism worked)! Also I feel William Devane and Martin Sheen did EXCEPTIONAL jobs not only in mastering the distinctive Kennedy accent but their personalities and spirit-not to mention a slight physical resemblance(Devane including a reference to President Kennedy's physical difficulties-the use of the rocker&painfully reclining on the sofa)I saw it when it first aired and seeing it now(any advances in technology had no effect) all the performances, but especially theirs,took me right back to those heart-stopping moments! I have seen both William Devane and Martin Sheen in many other performances but I always remember this as some of their finest work! It's also a stunning reminder of how essential it is to have someone with a calm, intelligent, experienced, diplomatic mind in charge with the sole focus being not just on the protection of ALL Americans but ALL peoples of the world! This also supports the documents that were discovered decades later(Peter Jennings of ABC News did a documentary on them)regarding the last minute communication DIRECTLY between Kennedy and Khrushchev,who bypassed the "interference" of the others who favored war, and acknowledged that they BOTH wanted the same thing- PEACE for their people! Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of either current regimes of Russia or the United States! Oh it made me miss President Obama even more!
  • Gavno30 October 2013
    Long, long ago, when dinosaurs ruled the world and I was a college undergrad, I made an interesting discovery... at least it was interesting to ME.

    The discovery was this... unless it personally grabs him by the noogies and gives a sharp yank, John Q. Public doesn't give a rodent's rectum about history. As a History major, I was appalled to discover that my fellow undergrads didn't know about things that happened 5 years ago, and frankly didn't give a damn about them; if you go to 100 or 200 years ago, that's completely off the RADAR screen. We're seeing today that events that far back produce some really garbled, half remembered jingoistic pronouncements from the average person on the street... or even from wannabe political leaders, who should KNOW better, but instead give us fairy tales about Paul Revere ringing church bells to warn the British about not taking our guns away!

    In 1974, ABC-TV presented a production called "The Missiles Of October", covering Kennedy's Cuban missile crisis of a decade before. I wasn't aware that it was going to be broadcast.

    One evening in October, I went to the Boar's Head... the campus beer bar at my college. I was stunned by what I saw there.

    The place was packed, but the jukebox was shut down. Dead silence... except for the sound of a 21 inch TV set over the bar, presenting the ABC broadcast.

    EVERYONE... from the bookworms and nerds to the jocks... was absolutely mesmerized by the program.

    It connected with them immediately... and I understood immediately WHY it connected.

    I still remember the cold, leaden lump of raw, animal instinct fear that formed in my chest as I'd watched and listened to John F. Kennedy on TV a decade earlier while he informed the American people that nuclear weapons were being aimed at us from 90 miles off our southern coast.

    As a child of the Duck & Cover generation my first automatic thought wasn't comforting... I'm living in Chicago, and Chicago is a prime target. If this breaks loose, we're gonna get hit first.

    I wondered if a week from then I was still going to be alive... it was a 13 year old who was grappling for the first time with the concept of mortality.

    Yeah... the audience in the Boar's Head remembered. "The Missiles of October" grabbed 'em by the scrotum on a downhill pull.THIS was history that was up close and personal; they'd lived through it.

    "The Missiles of October" was a VERY well constructed bit of stagecraft, and is historically accurate.Over the years I've wanted to see it again. Now, I can; it's been released on DVD.

    Playing the part of JFK is William Devane; he did a great job with the role. As Nikita Krushchev we have Howard DaSilva... the irony here is overpowering because DaSilva was named before HUAC as a Communist sympathizer and was subsequently blacklisted. Now, he was playing the part of the most powerful member of the Communist Party who had ever been born.

    In an interesting bit of casting... a VERY young Martin Sheen plays Robert Kennedy. And he plays the hell out of it!

    Neamiah Persoff is Andre Gromyko, and Ralph Bellamy plays UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson.

    ABC sure didn't pinch pennies on the TALENT here. Everyone is top rate.

    The material presented is pretty historically accurate; the script is based on Robert Kennedy's book THIRTEEN DAYS.

    The DVD release is pretty good, but you have to keep in mind the technical limitations of the time when the production was mounted.

    This was done with analog cameras (probably the then state of the art Image Orthicon, or possibly the follow-up Vidicon cameras). Compared to current "chip" cameras, the image presentation is "soft"... but that works well with this material. It imparts a slightly dreamlike quality to the production.

    It's clear that they shot this to 2" Ampex videotape; in a very few spots, head switching errors (2 inch machines were fiddly devices and were notorious for head switching glitches)are momentarily present... but all in all, it's a pretty good DVD transfer.

    HIGHLY recommended !!! The movie 13 DAYS has better fireworks, and more Bells & Whistles... but "The Missiles of October" does a much better job with the back room diplomacy that brought the world back from the brink of nuclear war.
  • Overall, an excellent made for TV movie with William Devane simply being the best actor who has yet played JFK. He does the accent JUST right without overdoing it -- unlike future JFK Martin Sheen, who hams it up as RFK here. His accent (as it was in KENNEDY) is overdone with, uh, a lot of, uh, this, uh, sort of thaaaaang (I am, uh, speaking like, uh, a Kennedy). Other than that, a really well-made film. Can't wait to see 13 DAYS!
  • All things considered, "The Missiles of October" is a pretty good (if abbreviated) account of the Cuban Missle Crisis, but I can't agree with those who conclude that it was a perfect production or that William Devane did a fantastic job portraying JFK. Frankly, he was much closer to RFK than JFK in appearance and demeanor. Kennedy was very handsome and charismatic, whereas Devane is simply not that attractive. He had buck teeth, a hooked nose, and his haircut wasn't quite right. He didn't sound much like Kennedy, either. His mannerisms, although obviously studied (particularly the way he smoked a cigar) simply didn't evoke Kennedy for me. Nonetheless, he did a credible job at a demanding task and his performance definitely improved as the show built to its inevitable climax. I found him least effective portraying Kennedy on the stump and most effective when he was extremely worried that the effects of blockading Cuba might spin out of control and touch off catastrophic warfare. At one point, he was practically curling up into himself, nearly in tears right in front of his advisers while his brother looked on, obviously very concerned that he was cracking under the strain. I doubt it really happened in quite that way, but it was a very dramatic moment and one of Martin Sheen's better scenes, too. In general, however, I didn't care for Sheen's portrayal of RFK. I found him too intense and nasal and he seemed to bully those who disagreed with his take on events.

    Some of the other actors were more notable in their supporting roles. Howard Da Silva as Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev was excellent. John Dehner, in a smaller part as a worldliwise former Secretary of State Dean Acheson, did a very competent job, as well. Harris Yulin as KGB agent Alexander Fomin was convincing, and so was Paul Lambert as John Scalia, the ABC correspondent he contacted. I also appreciated the portrayal of Russian Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin by Albert Paulsen. Kenneth Tobey as Admiral Anderson, Chief of Naval Operations in charge of the blockade, was convincing as the military man trying to follow difficult orders while tolerating the slights of less experienced superiors, and Ralph Bellamy's portrayal of UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson was very good, in my opinion. It is not generally remembered how important Stevenson was in turning world opinion sharply in our favor.

    What I found most interesting was the way the more dovish elements counseling Kennedy overruled the hawkish advisers, who called for bombing of the missile sites followed by an invasion of Cuba. The consensus settled on the blockade, instead, which the Kennedy brothers preferred. Far from proving more prudent and measured, however, it came very close to touching off the war they hoped to prevent. In fact, it looked as if the bombing and invasion might become necessary after all. This wasn't so well known when the events actually transpired, where it appeared that Kennedy had stepped up to the plate by calling for the naval quarantine of Cuba, Stevenson embarrassed the Russians at the UN by showing pictures of US overflights of the island, Khrushchev quickly backed down, and order was restored. As this show depicts, matters weren't resolved behind the scenes quite so easily. We really did come uncomfortably close to a nuclear war, despite the efforts of many cooler heads attempting to avoid it.

    This was a very good TV movie, regardless of its limitations, and it is very instructive about that historic time. For those interested in a more in-depth analysis, I recommend reading "The Crisis Years," by Michael Beschloss. It's a big book, but well worth the investment in time and effort.
  • Generally very good, but "kennedy-friendly", that is, JFK comes out the consumate crisis-manager, when in reality nobody was in control of events (JFK and Khrushchev truly were "sleepwalking through history").

    To be fair to the makers of the film, the script is based on available documents in 1974. Nowadays, we know that Kennedy explicitly traded existing US bases in Turkey for the USSR bases in Cuba -- something that was denied for years -- and that the Russians had tactical nuclear weapons in Cuba to defend against invasion; which would have immediately turned into a direct confrontation into the nuclear realm. In reality, the Cuban Missile Crisis seems to have been "won" (narrowly) by the Soviets -- although Khrushchev's career didn't survive it (but Castro's certainly did :-)

    Wonderful work by William Devane as JFK (Martin Sheen as RFK has a little more trouble with the accent, but the two of them portray the personalities of the two men very well), but perhaps the best portrayal of all is Howard da Silva as Nikita Khrushchev. Very nice casting choices (and performances) for pretty much every player. Long, but thorough.
  • 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.
  • wkozak22129 May 2015
    I watched this film the first time it was on TV. When it finally made to VHS I automatically bought it. This film is great. The actors are well suited in each of their roles. The film moves along really well. It never disappoints. I watch it once a year. One of my favorite parts is to see ralph bellamy as adlai stevenson at the un. I wish pbs would re- broadcast it with one break. Compare this film and thirteen days. There is no comparison. I have watched the latter and changed to another movie after 30 minutes. I wish they would make more TV movies like this. It shows what people can do if they take their time. It also shows what good writing and acting can accomplish.
  • One of the more difficult tasks when filming a subject whose outcome is already known is making it believable and exciting...Ron Howard did it in "Apollo 13", and this movie accomplishes the same goal...the story never really stops, with fast-moving discussions and back-and-forth scenes between America and the USSR...the producers excelled at presenting an all-star cast for this movie, with Martin Sheen an eerie choice as Bobby Kennedy...who knew the West Wing was in his future...an intriguing element to this topic is watching this version, and then viewing "Thirteen Days"...the differences are striking, with some characters in either film not showing up in the other...and you won't seen LBJ at all in "Missiles"...while only in two or three scenes in "Thirteen Days"...an amazing occurrence when you consider that most of the documents and info on the Cuban missile crisis have been declassified...this movie is available on video...I purchased it online...so get it and enjoy a look back at how close we really came...
  • This movie is a long 2 and 1/2 hours! It hardly had any war-type action. However, the saving grace is the great performances of William Devane as Kennedy and Marin Short also does a great job. If your interested in American history during the Cuban Missle Crisis, this is your movie!