A flawed but nonetheless highly exciting political thriller, TWILIGHT'S LAST GLEAMING has some deeply disturbing things to say about the powers that be in America. The action begins in 1981 (the near future for this 1977 release) and centers on former US Air Force general Lawrence Dell
(Burt Lancaster), a Vietnam veteran who served five years as a POW. Upon his return, Dell became a vocal advocate of disclosing the truth behind US involvement in Southeast Asia in the hope that a post-Watergate America would forgive its government and have renewed faith in its leaders. Because of
his radical stance, however, Dell is eventually sent to prison on trumped-up manslaughter charges. Still determined, he recruits three inmates (Paul Winfield, Burt Young, and William Smith) to help him escape and take over a nearby SAC base that he helped design. Once in control of the base, Dell
demands that the president (Charles Durning) reveal the truth about the Vietnam War to the American people by reading National Security Council document 9759 on national television. If these demands are not met, Dell promises to send the nine Titan missiles to their targets in the Soviet Union.
TWILIGHT'S LAST GLEAMING is a stunning indictment of the arrogance of America's decision makers and the lengths to which they will go to maintain "business as usual." At the same time it also dramatizes the danger of our unthinking faith in technology. Tellingly, it comes as a deep shock to the
military that their usually reliable machines and detailed procedures seem to have gone haywire on the day of the siege, leaving them powerless to stop Dell. Though a bit slow at the outset and suffering from some occasional lapses of logic, Robert Aldrich's film--shot in Germany with no
cooperation from the US military--is a fascinating, tension-filled effort. Lancaster contributes a fine performance as the righteous, populist general, and Durning is superb as the president who comes to share Lancaster's high hopes. Further, Aldrich uses some remarkable split-screen techniques
that add to the film's tension and speed up the complicated expository passages. Despite some flaws, TWILIGHT'S LAST GLEAMING is a gripping drama that will have you on the edge of your seat until the bitter end.
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- Released: 1977
- Rating: R
- Review: A flawed but nonetheless highly exciting political thriller, TWILIGHT'S LAST GLEAMING has some deeply disturbing things to say about the powers that be in America. The action begins in 1981 (the near future for this 1977 release) and centers on former US A… (more)