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President Kennedy, brother Robert and advisers face days of decision during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.
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Without becoming didactic, The Missiles of October does an outstanding job of presenting many points of view on the Cuban missile crisis. The film humanizes Kennedy's near impossible task of avoiding war without compromising national security. The earnestness of this 1974 made-for-television dramatization may briefly remind one of social studies class--indeed it is at times difficult to maintain consciousness while the extensive cast of characters is being introduced at the opening. Not to worry, though--soon the power plays begin and The Missiles of October becomes completely gripping. Actual news footage is spliced in with the action, nicely serving as exposition and driving home just how very close the world came to nuclear war. A crew of excellent character actors flesh out the story and reveal the psychological games behind the language of diplomacy. William Devane takes on the difficult task of playing John F. Kennedy. While he doesn't quite capture Kennedy's charisma, he does occupy the role comfortably and effectively conveys the president's deep worry and determination to avoid war. Martin Sheen plays an engaging Robert Kennedy and Michael Lerner, oddly enough, manages to make Pierre Salinger absolutely fascinating. --Ali Davis
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