The Missiles of October
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|The Missiles of October|
DVD cover for the film
|Written by||Stanley R. Greenberg|
|Directed by||Anthony Page|
Howard Da Silva
|Theme music composer||Laurence Rosenthal|
|Country of origin||U.S.|
|Executive producer(s)||Irv Wilson|
|Running time||150 mins|
|Production company(s)||Maljack Productions
|Original release||18 December 1974|
The Missiles of October is a 1974 docudrama made-for-television play about the Cuban Missile Crisis. The title evokes the book The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman about the missteps among the great powers and the failed chances to give an opponent a graceful way out, which led to the First World War. The teleplay introduced William Devane as John F. Kennedy and cast Martin Sheen as United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. The script is based on Robert Kennedy's book Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The title of the play was influenced by the 1962 book The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman, which describes various events leading to World War I; and, which had been read by President Kennedy shortly before the crisis. In the play, Kennedy compares events in the book to the crisis with the Soviet Union.
Staged as a two and a half hour television play, the production eschews physical action and detailed sets and wardrobes, in favor of emphasis on dialogue and emotions. It depicts how the world came close to the brink of, and eventually stepped away from global thermonuclear war, highlighting the roles of President John F Kennedy, Attorney General Robert F Kennedy, Premier Nikita Khrushchev, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Adlai Stevenson, and former Secretary of State Dean Acheson in the crisis.
The Missiles of October gave the US general public its first look behind the scenes at the inner workings, disagreements, and ultimate consensus of Kennedy's administration to blockade Cuba, rather than attempt to invade to dislodge the just-discovered, only partially completed Soviet nuclear missile emplacements in Cuba. It details US attempts to give the Soviets room to negotiate without appearing to capitulate, and also periodically depicts Khrushchev reporting progress of the events to his Communist Party cohorts.
The play was directed by Anthony Page with writing credits given to Stanley R. Greenberg and Robert Kennedy.
- William Devane as President John F. Kennedy
- Martin Sheen as United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy
- Howard Da Silva as Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev
- Ralph Bellamy as U.S Ambassador to the United Nations Adlai Stevenson
- Michael Lerner as White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger
- Clifford David as Theodore Sorensen, White House Counsel
- John Dehner as former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson
- Nehemiah Persoff as Soviet Foreign Secretary Andrei Gromyko
- Albert Paulsen as Soviet Ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Dobrynin
- Dana Elcar as US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara
- Larry Gates as US Secretary of State Dean Rusk
- William Prince as United States Secretary of the Treasury C. Douglas Dillon
- Keene Curtis as Director of CIA John McCone
- James Olson as McGeorge Bundy, Special Assistant for National Security Affairs
- Andrew Duggan as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Maxwell Taylor
- Robert P. Lieb as Chief of Staff of the USAF Gen. Curtis LeMay
- Dennis Patrick as Llewellyn Thompson, Former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union
- Kenneth Tobey as Chief of Naval Operations George W. Anderson Jr.
- James Hong as U.N. Secretary General U Thant
- John Randolph as Undersecretary of State George Ball
- Wright King as Senator Richard Russell Jr.
- Byron Morrow as Senator J. William Fulbright
- Arthur Franz as Congressman Charles A. Halleck,
- Ron Feinberg as French President Charles de Gaulle
- Paul Lambert as ABC News Correspondent John A. Scali
- Doreen Lang as Evelyn Lincoln President Kennedy's Secretary
- Harris Yulin as KGB spy Alexandre Feklisov (a.k.a Alexander Fomin)
- Stewart Moss as Kenneth O'Donnell, Special Assistant to the President
- James T. Callahan as David Powers, Special Assistant to the President
- Peter Donat as British Ambassador to the United States David Ormsby-Gore
- Thayer David as uncredited narrator
Technical Director Ernie Buttelman won the 1975 Emmy Award for outstanding achievement. There were several other Emmy nominations, including outstanding drama or comedy special; outstanding supporting actor in a comedy or drama special for Belamy; and outstanding writing in an original teleplay for Greenberg. That same year Greenberg won the Humanitas Prize in the 90-minute category.
In 1997 the play won a Producers Guild of America Hall of Fame award.
- Thirteen Days (book), memoirs of the crisis by Robert Kennedy
- Thirteen Days (film), a retelling of the story with newly declassified information not available in 1974
- Cultural depictions of John F. Kennedy