- Directors: John Frankenheimer
- Producers: John Frankenheimer, Edward Lewis
- Writers: Novel, Fletcher Knebel, Charles W Bailey II, Screenplay, Rod Serling
- Genres: Thriller, Drama
- Actors: Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric March, Ava Gardner, Edmond O Brien
The plot centers on the fictitious U.S. President Jordan Lyman (Fredric March). As the story begins, Lyman faces a wave of public dissatisfaction with his decision to sign a treaty with the Soviet Union, an agreement that will supposedly result in both nations simultaneously destroying their nuclear weapons under mutual international inspection. This is extremely unpopular with both the President’s opposition and the military, who believe the Soviets cannot be trusted.
As the debate over the treaty rages on, an alert and well-positioned Pentagon insider, United States Marine Corps Colonel Martin “Jiggs” Casey (Kirk Douglas) becomes aware of a conspiracy among the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) led by his own superior officer, the charismatic head of the JCS, Air Force General James Mattoon Scott (Burt Lancaster). As he digs deeper, he uncovers the conspiracy’s shocking goal: Scott and his cohorts, Colonel Broderick (John Larkin), Colonel Murdock (Richard Anderson), Gen. Hardesty (Tyler McVey), along with allies in the United States Congress led by Sen. Frederick Prentice (Whit Bissell) and influential members of the news media led by Harold McPherson (Hugh Marlowe), are plotting to stage a coup d’etat to remove President Lyman and his cabinet seven days hence.
Scott demands everyone stay in line. Lyman, however, discovers the confession that Girard obtained has survived the crash. A copy is given to Scott and the other officers who were in on the plot. Scott’s cohorts resign, and the plot of a military takeover is impossible now. The film ends with Lyman addressing the American people on the country’s future.