It’s hard to believe it now but during the Cold War ordinary people were terrified by the prospect of a nuclear apocalypse. This was especially the case in America. An atmosphere of fear often permeated throughout society in times of high tension. This period has frequently been captured on film, most notably in Dr. Strangelove, When the Wind Blows, The Day After and War Games. In Robert Aldrich’s Twilight’s Last Gleaming he paints one of the nightmare scenarios in dramatic colours.
After escaping from a military prison a former airfare general, Laurence Dell (Burt Lancaster), hatches a plot to infiltrate a complex in Montana and take control of nine Titan nuclear missiles. Along with his accomplishes Powell (Paul Winfield) and Garvas (Burt Young), they take over Silo 3. He demands to speak to the President (Charles Durning) and threatens to launch the missiles unless he discloses the contents of a secret document to the American people.
Twilight’s Last Gleaming is a tense drama. There are great performances from Lancaster and Winfield, and the plot twists and turns at every juncture. Amongst Aldrich’s films it’s one of his lesser known, but it definitely deserves greater recognition. The politics at play are believable and the way Dell goes about achieving his goals makes perfect sense. Twilight’s Last Gleaming is a nail-biting thriller which plays up the tensions of the day to make a riveting drama.
Twilight’s Last Gleaming is released on Dual Format Blu-ray and DVD by Eureka Entertainment as part of their Masters of Cinema Collection on Monday.