Magazine article USA TODAY

Crisis Time

Magazine article USA TODAY

Crisis Time

Article excerpt

Thirteen Days (New Line Home Entertainment, 147 minutes, $26.98) is the latest example of a cinematic phenomenon, previously evidenced by films such as "Apollo 13," "Titanic," and "All the President's Men." Even though an audience knows how the story ends, it will sit on the edge of its seat in suspense as the plot unspools towards the climax.

Everyone is aware that the world did not detonate in nuclear conflagration as a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Nevertheless, practically peeking over American leaders' shoulders in the White House, Cabinet Room, and War Room as Soviet ships carrying missiles steam to Cuba, the U.S. moves to block their path, and the world waits with bated breath to see which of the superpowers will back down before missiles start streaking overhead, viewers will find their hearts beating faster and their palms sweating.

Canny casting is of immeasurable aid, as most of the real-life characters--Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, United Nations Ambassador Adlai Stevenson, presidential aides McGeorge Bundy and Theodore Sorenson, etc.--are played by character actors who actually resemble them. …

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