"In writing fiction, the more fantastic the tale, the plainer the prose should be. Don't ask your readers to admire your words when you want them to believe your story." - Ben Bova [ more quotes ]

"THIRTEEN DAYS"

Screenplay by

David Self

Based on a book by

Ernest R. May and Philip D. Zelikow



DARKNESS. As the MAIN TITLES BEGIN, the theater thrums with
a subsonic HISS which mounts in all the rattling power of
THX, and we...

BURN IN, BRIGHT LIVING COLOR:

EXT. STRATOSPHERE - DAY

The glory of stratospheric dawn. The engines of a silver
Lockheed U-2F rasp upon the trace oxygen here at 72,500 feet.
Scattered cloud formations hang over the blue brilliance of
sea far, far below. In the haze, the looming edge of land.

SUPER: FLIGHT G-3101. OCTOBER 14TH, 1962. OVER CUBA.

The spy plane's CAMERA DOORS whine open. The glassy eye of
the 36-inch camera focuses. And then with a BANGBANGBANGBANG,
its high-speed motor kicks in, shutter flying.

MATCH CUT TO:

INT. O'DONNELL BEDROOM - DAY

A simple CAMERA, snapping away furiously in the hands of a
giggling MARK O'DONNELL, 4. He's straddling and in the face
of his dad, KENNY O'DONNELL, 30's, tough, Boston-Irish, with
a prodigious case of morning hair. Kenny awakens, red-eyed.

HELEN (O.S.)
Mark, get off your father!

Kenny sits up to the morning bedlam of the O'Donnell house.

KIDS screech, doors bang all over. Kenny pushes Mark over,
rolls out of bed, snatches up the corners of the blanket and
hoists Mark over his shoulder in a screaming, kicking bundle.

INT. O'DONNELL HALLWAY - DAY

Kenny, with Mark in the bundle on his shoulder, meets his
wife HELEN going the other way in the hall with LITTLE HELEN,
1, in her arms.

KENNY
Hi, hon.

They kiss in passing. Daughter KATHY, 12, races by in angry
pursuit of her twin, KEVIN, 12.

HELEN
Don't forget, Mrs. Higgins wants to
talk to you this afternoon about
Kevin. You need to do something about
this.

KENNY
Kids are supposed to get detention.

Kenny dumps the bundle with Mark in a big pile of dirty
laundry.

SMASH CUT TO:

EXT. MCCOY AIR FORCE BASE - FLORIDA - DAY

A pair of massive FILM CANISTERS unlock and drop from the
belly of the U-2. TECHNICIANS secure them in orange carrying
cases, lock them under key, fast and proficient. They whisk
them out from under the spy plane.

The Technicians run for an idling Jeep. They sling the cases
into the rear of the vehicle which in turn accelerates away
hard, curving across the runway for another waiting plane.

SMASH CUT TO:

INT. O'DONNELL KITCHEN - DAY

A kitchen out of the late 1950's. Kenny drinks coffee, ties
a tie, rifles through a briefcase at the kitchen table. The
horde of kids, ages 2-14, breakfast on an array of period
food. Kenny grills the kids while he goes over papers.

KENNY
Secretary of Defense...

KEVIN
Dean Rusk!

KENNY
Wrong, and you get to wax my car.

KENNY JR. smirks at Kevin.

KENNY JR.
Rusk is State, moron. Robert McNamara.

HELEN
Got time for pancakes?

KENNY
Nope. Attorney General?

A PHONE RINGS as the kids cry out en masse.

KIDS
(chorus)
Too easy! Bobby, Bobby Kennedy!

Kenny glances up at the wall. There are two phones, side by
side. One RED, one BLACK. It's the black one ringing. Helen
answers. Kenny goes back to his papers.

KENNY
All right, wise guys, Assistant
Secretary of State for Latin
America...

SMASH CUT TO:

EXT. STEUART BUILDING - DAY

A U.S. Navy truck lurches to a stop in front of the run-down,
brick-faced seven-story Steuart Building on 5th and K. Rear
doors BANG open, and out hop two MARINE GUARDS, side arms
drawn, film canisters in a carrying case between them.

SUPER: NATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHIC INTERPRETATION CENTER (NPIC),
WASHINGTON D.C.

As the Marines approach the building, front doors SLAM open.

INT. OPERATIONS OFFICE, NPIC - DAY

A bespectacled OPERATIONS MANAGER hands a clipboard to one
of the big Marine Guards who in turn hands him a set of keys.
The Manager unlocks the film cases. PHOTO INTERPRETERS swoop
in, whisk away the contents: SPOOLS OF FILM.

SMASH CUT TO:

EXT. O'DONNELL RESIDENCE - DAY

A black Lincoln pulls away from the modest white house on a
tidy Washington D.C. residential street.

EXT. WASHINGTON D.C., AERIAL - DAY

The car threads its way through the Washington traffic, past
the big administrative buildings, down tree-lined avenues,
takes a turn into a gate. As the car stops at the gate, the
CAMERA flies past, revealing it's the gate to the WHITE HOUSE.

SMASH CUT TO:

INT. NPIC - DAY

CLOSE ON the five-thousand rolls of film spewing through
processing equipment, its streaking passage leading us
straight through the development machinery to:

SERIES OF VARIOUS SHOTS:

Photo Interpreters power up light tables, stereoscopic
viewers, zip across the floor in wheeled chairs.

Flying switches, flickering lights, humming motors. It's an
eerie dance of technological black magic.

Another pair of Interpreters loom out of the darkness, side
by side, ghostly looking, their glasses reflecting the glare
of the light table, like magicians staring into a crystal
ball.

IMAGES FILL THE SCREEN

Aerial shots, flashing by. Cuban countryside from 72,500
feet. A MAGNIFYING GLASS swings down on its arm in front of
us, magnifying the carpet of trees... and a row of six canvas
covered OBJECTS among them.

SMASH CUT TO:

EXT. WHITE HOUSE - WEST WING - DAY

Kenny, in business suit and tie, trots up the steps, and a
MARINE GUARD snaps the door open for him.

INT. WEST WING - CONTINUOUS

Kenny, briefcase in hand, weaves his way through the empty,
ornate hallways of the West Wing. Past magnificent doorways,
early American furniture, paintings. He finally reaches a
doorway, goes through into:

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

A long, narrow affair, window at the back looking out into
the Rose Garden. Kenny dumps his briefcase on the desk, shucks
off his coat, removes a folder from his briefcase, turns and
heads back out...

INT. WEST WING HALLS - CONTINUOUS

And into the warren of offices and halls that is the working
White House. He takes a right, passes the doors to the Oval
Office right next to his office, goes down a long, straight
hall, into...

INT. MANSION - CONTINUOUS

The formal main building, the executive mansion. He passes
the busts of Presidents past, turns left into an elevator.
The doors close.

INT. 3RD FLOOR - FAMILY QUARTERS - DAY

The doors open. Kenny strides out onto a DIFFERENT FLOOR,
the third. He heads down the long, posh hall of the family
quarters. Fine furnishings, art. The living White House.

He approaches the double doors at the end of the hall guarded
by a cluster of SECRET SERVICE AGENTS. An agent opens one of
the doors.

KENNY
Morning, Floyd.

SECRET SERVICE AGENT
Good morning, Mr. O'Donnell.

INT. PRESIDENT'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS

Kenny enters the elegant bedroom. The figure alone at a side
table by the window, drinks coffee, breakfast still spread
out before him, Washington Post obscuring his face.

KENNY
Top o' the morning, Mr. President.

The figure lowers the paper.

It is PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY. He's wearing boxers and a
tank top. Unshaven. Bed-head.

Kenny O'Donnell, former ward-pol and long-time Kennedy man,
is his Chief of Staff...

THE PRESIDENT
Morning, Kenny. You see this goddamn
Capehart stuff?

The President rattles the paper. Kenny collapses in the chair
opposite the President, sprawls, comfortable.

KENNY
Bayh's going to lose, but it's good
groundwork for us for '64.

Kenny steals a piece of buttered toast off the President's
plate. The President spares him a glance.

THE PRESIDENT
I was eating that.

KENNY
No you weren't.

THE PRESIDENT
(scanning the paper)
I was, you bastard.

Kenny takes a defiant bite.

THE PRESIDENT
So what've we got today?

KENNY
Today, for your information, is
Pulaski Day. We're going to Buffalo...

SMASH CUT TO:

INT. HOTEL LOBBY - DAY

SUPERIMPOSE: BUFFALO, NEW YORK

A luxury hotel crowded with LOCAL POLS: the Democratic machine
of Buffalo. Beyond the open floor-to-ceiling windows, a CROWD.
The Pulaski Day Parade, a glimpse of '69s Americana. High
School bands blare Sousa. The scene is deafening, boisterous.
Pols trail Kenny as he crosses the room: fast, tough, on-the-
go.

POL #1
We're putting up Potowski next time.
Will you guys come out for him?

KENNY
Who else you got?

POL #2
There's Richardson. Good kid.

KENNY
Got the touch?

POL #2
Yeah. Still moldable, too.

KENNY
Everyone likes a good kid...

And like that, a congressional candidate is made... Kenny
accelerates, leaving the Pols behind. Suddenly, outside the
windows, the crowd swells forward with a collective ROAR.

CROWD
MR. PRESIDENT! PRESIDENT KENNEDY!

EXT. HOTEL - DAY

Kenny heads down the steps with New York Times Washington
Bureau Chief, SCOTTY RESTON. Anonymous, they weave their way
through the crowd for a police car on a side street.

RESTON
How's my favorite President?

KENNY
Busy. But you've got his heart.

RESTON
I want an hour with him.

KENNY
I said his heart, not his attention.

RESTON
Three weeks before midterm elections?
You need me.

KENNY
Well. There is a new civil rights
initiative he wants to talk about.

RESTON
I'm doing a piece on Skybolt. I hear
Macmillan's meeting with him in
Nassau.

Kenny just sighs as they make their way up to the police
car. A Secret Service Agent opens the door for him, another
is behind the wheel.

KENNY
We're giving the Brits Polaris
instead. But a story'll just aggravate
things.

Scotty stares at Kenny, determined. Kenny looks away. And
his eye catches a tall, willowy BEAUTIFUL WOMAN. She is
talking, excited, embarrassed, to two more SECRET SERVICE
AGENTS. What they're saying is lost in the noise.

Scotty follows Kenny's gaze. Then the two men share a look,
a silent understanding. Kenny glances at the Secret Service
guy holding the car door, tilts his head at the woman.

KENNY
Not today. He's got tight schedule.

The Agent nods, heads for the other Agents and the Beautiful
Woman. Scotty acts like nothing has happened.

RESTON
Pretending there isn't a problem
won't fix it. He can clear the air
on Anglo American relations.

KENNY
Forget it, Scotty.

RESTON
Let him talk to me, he makes Macmillan
look good, I print it, the British
public likes it, Macmillan owes you.

The formula's exactly what Kenny wants to hear. He pretends
to consider, pretends to cave as he gets in the car.

KENNY
All right, you're in. Half hour.

Reston's won. But so has Kenny, and he's made Scotty feel
tough in the bargain. People like Kenny.

INT. POLICE CAR - DAY

In the back seat, Kenny stares out the window at the parade
goers. The Secret Service Agents leave the Woman.
Disappointed, the Woman turns and vanishes into the crowd.
It's an eerie moment. Something troubles Kenny, and he glances
up at the sky. A premonition. But it's a clear, clear blue.
A day like this, all is right with the world...

SMASH CUT TO:

INT. NPIC - NIGHT

Six Interpreters huddle around IMAGES on a light table. One
of them shoulders his way into the group and THUMPS a black
BINDER on the table. There are grim nods of agreement.

The book is open to a PICTURE of an SS-4 BALLISTIC MISSILE.
A photo from Moscow Mayday parade. An icon of the nuclear
age escorted like some devil-god to a holocaust...

END MAIN TITLE SEQUENCE

EXT. THE WHITE HOUSE - DAY

The White House casts long shadows this gorgeous October
morning. Blue sky; the first flash of color in the trees.

SUPER: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16TH, 1962. DAY 1.

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

Briefcase and coat in hand, Kenny enters his office -- and
finds THREE MEN. Standing there. Thin-haired, bespectacled,
academic-looking MCGEORGE BUNDY, 43, the National Security
Advisor. The two men in the background: PHOTO INTERPRETERS.

Kenny hangs up his coat, sees the Interpreters' large black
display cases. And suddenly the world is slightly off kilter.

KENNY
Hey, Mac. You're up bright and early.

BUNDY
No, Ken. I need to see him now...

INT. WHITE HOUSE - RESIDENTIAL FLOOR - DAY

Kenny emerges from the elevator with Bundy. They head down
the long, posh 3rd floor hall, the Presidential Detail
guarding the doors at the end. But the familiar route feels
strange, and lasting an eternity. Kenny eyes the package
under Bundy's arm, its TOP SECRET stamp visible.

KENNY
Morning, Floyd.

SECRET SERVICE AGENT
Good morning, Mr. O'Donnell. Mr.
Bundy.

The Agent opens the door. Bundy pauses, Kenny with him.

KENNY
What's it about?

BUNDY
Cuba.

Bundy is tense. But Kenny relaxes.

KENNY
Just Cuba? Okay, I got work to do,
see you guys downstairs.

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

Kenny's office is a raging beehive of activity. Kenny works
the phone as ASSISTANTS come and go with files.

KENNY
(to phone, scary calm)
Listen to me, you worthless piece of
disloyal shit. You will pull Daly's
man on the circuit. You owe your
goddamn job to this administration.
(beat, listening)
There is a word you need to learn.
It is the only word in politics.
Loyalty. LOYALTY you motherfucking
piece of shit!

As Kenny THROWS the phone down at the receiver, and the
PRIVATE DOOR to the Oval Office suddenly opens. Kenny glances
up. President Kennedy stands there in the doorway. Kenny
thinks he's reacting to the tirade.

KENNY
What're you looking at? This isn't
the blessed order of St. Mary the
Meek.

Kenny stops.

KENNY
Excuse us.

The Assistants leave, shutting the door after them. Kenny
rises.

THE PRESIDENT
I think you should come in here.

Kenny starts for the door.

THE PRESIDENT
Still think Cuba isn't important?

KENNY
Not as far as the election goes.

The President lets Kenny by into...

INT. OVAL OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

WE ENTER from a different angle than we usually enter in
movies: through the side door. The President's ornate desk
sits on the right, windows looking out on the Rose Garden
behind it. Kenny's gaze swivels to:

THE OTHER END OF THE ROOM where the Interpreters, their
crewcut chief, ARTHUR LUNDAHL, 50's, and Bundy stare at him.
They're surrounded by PRESENTATION BOARDS propped up around
the fireplace. The President's rocking chair and sofas.

THE PRESIDENT
You used to look down a bomb sight
for a living, Ken. What do you see?

In eerie silence, as all eyes follow him, Kenny makes his
way among the presentation boards with the U-2 imagery, stops
in front of the picture of the six canvas-covered objects.
It unleashes a wave of memories.

KENNY
We hit a Nazi buzz bomb field in
'45.
(beat, incredulous)
It looks like a rocket base...

He puts his hand out to touch the image, then turns and looks
to the President, knowing what they must be.

BUNDY
On Sunday morning, one of our U-2s
took these pictures. The Soviets are
putting medium range ballistic
missiles into Cuba.

Shock. Silence. Kenny glances to the other men.

LUNDAHL
They appear to be the SS-4: range of
a thousand miles, three-megaton
nuclear warhead.

KENNY
Jesus Christ in Heaven...

INT. WHITE HOUSE OPERATOR'S CENTER - DAY

A bank of WHITE HOUSE OPERATORS work the switchboard, fingers
flying, voices overlapping in a babble of:

VARIOUS OPERATORS
Please hold for the White House...
Mr. O'Donnell for Secretary
McNamara... White House Operator...
please hold...

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - DAY

Kenny carries the phone with him as he paces hard from his
desk to his window.

KENNY
The principals are assembling in an
hour. See you then.

Kenny hangs up. The President enters. A beat. And in that
beat, there's a void. The two men are off their emotional
stride, trying to grope their way out of shock.

THE PRESIDENT
Where's Bobby?

Kenny nods, acknowledging the feeling.

KENNY
Should be here any minute.

THE PRESIDENT
Good.

And we glimpse the chemistry of these guys by Bobby's absence.
It's like they're missing their third wheel.

THE PRESIDENT
Good.

BOBBY (O.S.)
Where the hell are you?

The President and Kenny hear him out in the hall. And the
tension goes out of them instantly.

THE PRESIDENT
In here!

They turn to the door as BOBBY KENNEDY, 37, the President's
younger brother/Attorney General, enters. Bobby shuts the
door behind him, falls into Kenny's chair, and clearly
grappling with his own disbelief, is hushed.

BOBBY
Jesus Christ, guys. What the hell's
Khruschev thinking?

THE PRESIDENT
Did you have any indication of this
from Georgi? Any possible warning or
sense of motivation?

BOBBY
(shaking his head)
Complete snowjob. And then we went
out and told the country they weren't
putting missiles into Cuba.
(beat)
By the way, you realize we just lost
the midterms.

KENNY
Who gives a shit about the midterms
now? The Soviets are putting nuclear
weapons ninety miles away from us.

BOBBY
You mean there's something more
important than votes? Didn't think
I'd live to see the day, Ken.

The President paces away, grim.

KENNY
Jesus. I feel like we've caught the
Jap carriers steaming for Pearl
Harbor.

INT. WEST WING HALLWAY - DAY

The President strides down the plush hallway, Bobby and Kenny
flanking him. Unconsciously, all three men assume the same
gait: confident, powerful, no longer disoriented.

And before our eyes, the three men's game faces appear, and
they become the hard-ass leaders of the United States. Secret
Service Agents throw open the massive double doors to the
Cabinet Room.

INT. CABINET ROOM - CONTINUOUS

And they enter. The group of men at the long, ornate Roosevelt-
era table, rise as one.

GROUP
Good morning, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT
Good morning, gentlemen.

And the doors close on the eighteen men of EXCOM: The
Executive Committee of the National Security Council. They
are the legendary "Best and Brightest."

The President makes his way down the line: shakes hands with
Secretary of State DEAN RUSK, 53, distinguished, with a soft,
Georgian accent, a distant reserve.

THE PRESIDENT
Dean, good morning.

RUSK
Mr. President.

The President leans past him, grasps the hand of the Secretary
of Defense ROBERT MCNAMARA, 46, a gifted managerial genius...
the price of which is a cold, hard personality.

THE PRESIDENT
Bob. Bet you had a late night.

MCNAMARA
Sleep is for the weak, Mr. President.

OFF TO THE SIDE, Kenny greets Vice President LYNDON JOHNSON,
54, and ADLAI STEVENSON, 62, Representative to the U.N.,
intellectual, well-spoken.

KENNY
Lyndon. Adlai.

The silver-haired war hero and politically savvy Chairman of
The Joint Chiefs of Staff, GENERAL MAXWELL TAYLOR, 50s, shakes
the President's hand.

THE PRESIDENT
Max.

GENERAL TAYLOR
McCone's been notified and is coming
back from the West coast. Carter's
here, though.

He gestures to GENERAL MARSHALL CARTER, Deputy Chief of
Operations for the CIA. Carter nods to the President.

THE CAMERA PANS OVER THE OTHERS.

DOUGLAS DILLON, ex-banker, Secretary of the Treasury.

ROSWELL GILPATRIC, studious Deputy Secretary of Defense.

PAUL NITZE, 55, the detail-driven facts man, Assistant
Secretary of Defense.

GEORGE BALL, 50s, Undersecretary of State. Eloquent, a man
of conscience.

U. ALEXIS JOHNSON, Deputy Under Secretary of State.

EDWARD MARTIN, Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America.

LLEWELLYN THOMPSON, laid back, rumpled Soviet Affairs Advisor.

DON WILSON, Deputy Director of the USIA.

The President sits down at the center of the table, Rusk and
McNamara to either side, and the others resume their seats.
Bobby takes one of the over-stuffed chairs at the table.

Kenny finds one along the wall behind the President, under
the windows to the Rose Garden to TED SORENSEN, 30s, the
President's legal counsel and speech writer. They greet each
other coolly.

KENNY
Ted.

SORENSEN
Kenny.

The room falls silent. The President looks across the table
to GENERAL CARTER.

THE PRESIDENT
Okay. Let's have it.

GENERAL CARTER
Arthur Lundahl heads our photographic
interpretation division at CIA. I'll
let him and his boys take you through
what we've got. Arthur?

Lundahl, standing at the end of the room with briefing boards,
steps forward with a pointer.

LUNDAHL
Gentlemen, as most of you now know a
U-2 over Cuba on Sunday morning took
a series of disturbing photographs.

SWINGING THE POINTER AT A BOARD SMASH CUTS US TO:

EXT. MISSILE SITE - LOS PALACIOS, CUBA - DAY

The sweltering Cuban countryside. Shouting SOVIET ROCKET
TROOPS, stripped to the waist, glistening with sweat, machete
a clearing under scattered, limp palm trees.

LUNDAHL (V.O.)
Our analysis at NPIC indicates the
Soviet Union has followed its
conventional weapons build-up in
Cuba with the introduction of surface-
to surface medium-range ballistic
missiles, or MRBMs. Our official
estimate at this time is that this
missile system is the SS-4 Sandal.
We do not believe these missiles are
as yet operational.

A bulldozer TEARS through the undergrowth. FILLING THE SCREEN.
A 70-foot long MISSILE TRANSPORTER creeps along in the
bulldozer's wake like a vast hearse with its shrouded cargo.

INT. CABINET ROOM - DAY

Lundahl raps his second board: a map of the United States,
Cuba visible in the lower corner. An ARC is drawn clearly
across the U.S., encompassing the entire Southeast.

LUNDAHL
IRONBARK reports the SS-4 can deliver
a 3-megaton nuclear weapon 1000 miles.
So far we have identified 32 missiles
served by around 3400 men, undoubtedly
all Soviet personnel. Our cities and
military installations in the
Southeast, as far north as Washington,
are in range of these weapons, and
in the event of a launch, would only
have five minutes of warning.

GENERAL CARTER
Five minutes, gentlemen. Five minutes.

GENERAL TAYLOR
In those five minutes they could
kill 80 million Americans and destroy
a significant number of our bomber
bases, degrading our retaliatory
options. The Joint Chiefs' consensus
is that this is a massively
destabilizing move, upsetting the
nuclear balance.

The President stares at Lundahl, and beating out each word.

THE PRESIDENT
Arthur. Are. You. Sure?

Lundahl looks around the room. Everyone is hanging.

LUNDAHL
Yes, Mr. President. These are nuclear
missiles.

The men come to grips with their own fears, own anger.

BOBBY
How long until they're operational?

LUNDAHL
General Taylor can answer that
question better than I can.

General Taylor drops a memo on the table WHICH BECOMES:

EXT. FIELD TABLE - MISSILE SITE, CUBA - DAY

SCHEMATICS slapped down on a camp table. A group of Soviet
site ENGINEERS point and gesture as they study their ground
from a shaded hillock. CLEARING CREWS and SURVEYORS work and
sweat in the distance.

GENERAL TAYLOR (V.O.)
GMAIC estimates ten to fourteen days.
However, a crash program to ready
the missiles could cut that time.

INT. CABINET ROOM - DAY

Taylor sees the grim looks all around.

GENERAL TAYLOR
I have to stress that there may be
more missiles that we don't know
about. We need more U-2 coverage.

Kenny lets out his breath. He catches Bobby's eye. This is
unbelievable.

THE PRESIDENT
Is there any indication -- anything
at all -- that suggests they intend
to use these missiles in some sort
of first strike?

GENERAL CARTER
Not at present, sir. But I think the
prudent answer is we don't know.

THE PRESIDENT
Do we have any sort of intelligence
from CIA on what Khruschev is
thinking?

GENERAL CARTER
No, Mr. President. We don't. We just
don't know what's happening inside
the Kremlin at that level.

BOBBY
They lied to us. Two weeks ago
Dobrynin told me to my face Khurschev
had no intention of putting missiles
into Cuba. They said themselves,
this is our backyard.

There's angry agreement. The President cuts it off.

THE PRESIDENT
Gentlemen, I want first reactions.
Assuming for a moment Khruschev has
not gone off the deep end and intends
to start World War Three, what are
we looking at?

Rusk glances to his team at the end of the table. Ball,
Johnson, Martin, Thompson and Stevenson.

RUSK
Mr. President, I believe my team is
in agreement. If we permit the
introduction of nuclear missiles to
a Soviet satellite nation in our
hemisphere, the diplomatic
consequences will be too terrible to
contemplate. The Russians are trying
to show the world they can do whatever
they want, wherever they want, and
we're powerless to stop them. If
they succeed...

BOBBY
It will be Munich all over again.

RUSK
Appeasement only makes the aggressor
more aggressive. Confidence in our
security commitments around the world
will falter, allies will become unsure
in the face of Soviet pressure, and
the Soviets will be emboldened to
push us even harder. We must remove
the missiles one way or another. It
seems to me the options are either
to build up the crisis 'til they
give in, or we hit them. An air
strike.

There's silence at the table. Some nods. Understanding.

THE PRESIDENT
Bob?

MCNAMARA
We've worked up several military
scenarios. Before I ask General Taylor
to lead us through the various
options, I'd like for us to adopt a
rule. If we are going to strike, we
must agree now that we will do it
before the missiles become
operational. Because once they are,
I don't think we can guarantee getting
them all before at least some are
launched.

And there it is. The clock is running.

BUNDY
Sir. We need to consider... if we
decide to act, there's a good chance
we'll end up in a general war.

The room falls silent. The President leans back in his chair,
studying the circle of men around the table, weighing them.

Kenny and the others watch him in silence. A long, dramatic
pause. A course that will change history is about to be
chosen. The President leans forward, folds his hands on the
table. Fated. Grave.

THE PRESIDENT
It's clear we cannot permit Soviet
nuclear missiles in Cuba. We must
get those missiles out.

EXT. THE ROSE GARDEN - DAY

Kenny and Bobby follow the President down a path through the
Rose Garden. The shock of the morning has worn off. The
President stops, looks at them.

THE PRESIDENT
I don't think it's going to matter
what Khruschev's intentions are. I
tell you, right now... I don't see
any way around hitting them.

A long moment of silence as they move along again.

KENNY
If we hit 'em, kill a lot of Russians,
they'll move against Berlin. They
attack Berlin, that's NATO... and
we're at war.

The guys stop again. The autumn day is bright, warm, alive.
The air, the distant city sounds derail the relentless train
of logic for a beat. And in their faces we see that all three
men, for the first time, feel the enormity of war, its shadow
over everything. It's only a couple of steps away. Steps
that they're seriously contemplating.

BOBBY
Damned if we do, but if we don't,
we're in a war for sure somewhere
else in six months.

Pained, the President turns away.

THE PRESIDENT
No choice. This is going to cost
lives any way we go. Do nothing, and
it could be 80 million of ours. We
have to get rid of those missiles.

KENNY
There've got to be alternatives to
just going out and bombing them.

BOBBY
He's right, Jack. Taylor is saying
we may have some time. We've got to
use it.

THE PRESIDENT
So if there are alternatives that
make sense -- and I'm not saying
there are -- we need 'em. Need 'em
fast.

BOBBY
What about the allies? Congress? I
think we may need to start letting
key people know. And they're all
scattered across the country for the
campaign. We're going to need to get
the U.N. staff in and warmed up.
Jesus... I don't even know if we've
got secure communications with half
our embassies since that the Soviets
got that cryptographer of ours.

THE PRESIDENT
We can't worry about everything right
now. We've got to figure out what
we're going to do before we worry
about how we do it.

KENNY
The other thing is...

BOBBY
...I know. CIA and the military fucked
us on the Bay of Pigs.

KENNY
They're going to be pressing for a
military solution soon. We can't
afford to let them ram their agenda
down our throats. We need to come
with options other than air strikes
so we have some sort of choice here.

BOBBY
We got a bunch of smart guys. We
lock 'em up together in there, kick
'em in the ass til they come up with
options.

Kenny and the President look at him. Bobby nods.

BOBBY
I'll do it.

KENNY
(to the President)
It's too politicized with you in
there, anyway. They need to be able
to stick their necks out.

BOBBY
It'll be the principals, a couple of
the key guys from each department:
the Executive Committee of the
National Security Council. We'll
call it EXCOM.

Kenny snorts a laugh. Bobby shoots him a cross look.

KENNY
EXCOM. Has a ring to it. Like F-Troop.

The President stops. Bobby and Kenny stop, too.

THE PRESIDENT
Okay. Kenny and I only show for the
meetings you call us into. Impress
us. And do it fast.
(to Kenny)
You're in charge of keeping this
quiet. If word gets out before we
know what we're going to do, there'll
be panic. And it'll ruin any chance
of surprise if we decide to hit them.

KENNY
Then we need to do a few things right
away. No Pierre. He knows, the press
knows. You're going to have to keep
up your schedule -- your movements
are followed too closely. And we
need to get these guys out of the
White House. George Ball's got a
conference room at State.
(to Bobby)
Reconvene over there this afternoon,
come back here tonight.

Bobby nods.

BOBBY
I think we should bring in Dean
Acheson. He was fighting Soviets
while we were still working the wards
in Boston.

The President nods his approval. Looks at Kenny.

THE PRESIDENT
Find him, Kenny. We're going to need
all the help we can get.

INT. WEST WING - HALL OUTSIDE PRESS OFFICE - DAY

Kenny moves hard and fast through the twisting warren of
hallways and tiny offices which is the West Wing. Suddenly,
Scotty Reston pops out of a doorway behind Kenny.

RESTON
Hey, Kenny! Who died?

Kenny glances over his shoulder at Scotty who points to a
window. A beat, then Kenny returns to look out the window.
Outside, the West Wing Drive is FILLED WITH LIMOUSINES.

A flash of dismay, but Kenny covers fast.

KENNY
Way it's going, the Democratic Party.
DNC strategy session. If you can
call it that.

Scotty chuckles. Kenny moves off, leading him away. Kenny's
assistant runs up behind him, holding out a slip of paper.

ASSISTANT
Sir?

Kenny tries to look him away.

RESTON
It's Tuesday. You said to call. When
do I get my 45 minutes?

KENNY
Tell you what. We're in Connecticut
tomorrow for Ribicoff. I'll get you
up front with him during the flight.

RESTON
Deal.

ASSISTANT
Sir.

Kenny turns, harsh.

KENNY
What is it?

The Assistant eyes Scotty, holds his tongue. Kenny takes the
slips.

ASSISTANT
The number you asked for.

KENNY
I ask for a lot of 'em. Whose is it?

ASSISTANT
Dean Acheson's, sir.

That shuts Kenny up. Reston eyes the slip, then looks to
Kenny's face. And he knows something isn't right here.

KENNY
Gotta go, Scotty. See you tomorrow.

INT. TREASURY BUILDING GARAGE - NIGHT

A car jolts to a stop. The CAMERA PANS up over the sagging
suspension, the government plates, the hood ornament revealing
half of EXCOM inside. Kenny stands nearby waiting for them.

The doors open, and out they pile like a bunch of clowns:
Bobby, McNamara, Rusk, Ball, Martin, Dioptric, Sorensen,
Stevenson, and Nitze. They're sitting in each others' laps,
banging their heads on the roof, joking, but tense.

BOBBY
Screw secrecy. You try having that
fat ass sit on your lap all the way
from Foggy Bottom.

MCNAMARA
You were excited. I say no more.

The gang falls in behind Kenny, trails him out of the garage.

INT. TUNNEL TO WHITE HOUSE - NIGHT

A steel door unlocks, swings open, and Kenny marches at the
head of the wedge of men into a long tunnel. It's the infamous
old passage from the Treasury to the White House. Kenny and
Bobby get a little ahead of the others.

BOBBY
Everybody agrees the diplomatic route
is out. It's too slow, and they'll
have the missiles finished.

Kenny looks at him. Then there's only one alternative. The
CAMERA wipes through the ceiling to:

EXT. WHITE HOUSE - NIGHT

GROUND LEVEL. Where the brilliantly-lit flag flutters over
the spotlit White House: their destination.

INT. CABINET ROOM - NIGHT

GENERAL WALTER 'CAM' SWEENEY, head of Tactical Air Command,
stands at the head of the table with a presentation board.
The men of EXCOM gather around Sweeney in their rumpled
shirts, nursing coffee and cigarettes.

GENERAL SWEENEY
We have 850 planes assembling at
Homestead, Eglin, Opa Locka, MacDill,
Patrick, Pensacola and Key West.

SMASH CUT TO:

EXT. HOMESTEAD AFB - FLORIDA - NIGHT

An F-100 Super Sabre stands under lights on a taxiway. The
CAMERA DESCENDS FROM ITS OVERHEAD SHOT, discovering the
aircraft's sleek cockpit, menacing tiger-jaw paint job, the
four 20mm cannons on its nose.

GENERAL SWEENEY (V.O.)
Due to the tropical foliage, the
OPLAN calls for high-explosive and
napalm loadouts for our ground attack
sorties.

PULL BACK TO REVEAL:

The FLIGHT LINE where a full strike wing stands beyond this
plane, pylons laden with weapons, GROUND CREW servicing them.

INT. CABINET ROOM - CONTINUOUS

Other EXCOM members draw near the board, its order of battle,
strike maps. They're grim, but fascinated. Empowering.
Intoxicating. Sexy. Kenny sees it in the faces, even the
President's. Adlai does too, is upset.

ADLAI
I still think there are diplomatic
approaches we haven't considered
yet.

Kenny looks at Adlai. The others around the room, embarrassed,
don't respond. The group has moved on and Stevenson hasn't.

GENERAL TAYLOR
We have high confidence in the
expanded air strike option.
(beat)
The problem, Mr. President, is that
it's a short-term solution. Khruschev
can send more missiles next month.
The Chiefs and I believe we should
follow up the air strikes with the
full version of OPLAN 316.

THE PRESIDENT
An invasion...

GENERAL TAYLOR
Yes, sir. We can be sure we get all
the missiles, and we remove Castro
so this can never happen again.

Kenny looks around the room at the men, the murmurs of general
agreement, senses the consensus building and is agitated.

THE PRESIDENT
Is this the Chiefs' recommendation?

GENERAL TAYLOR
Yes, sir. Our best option is to
commence the strikes before the
missiles are operational. The invasion
happens eight days later.

The President leans back in his chair, turns to the man at
the far end of the table: DEAN ACHESON, 60s, former Secretary
of State. He sits silent, like some revered oracle, the
architect of the American Cold War strategy of containment.

THE PRESIDENT
Dean. What do you think?

Acheson arches an eyebrow, and when he speaks, his voice
resonates throughout the room, powerful, smooth, hypnotic.

ACHESON
Mr. President, you have rightly
dismissed the diplomatic option. The
Soviet will only tie you down in
negotiation, and leave us short of
our goal, the removal of the missiles.
Negotiating will do nothing more
than give them time to make the
missiles operational, complicating
the necessary military task we have
at hand.

Everyone in the room listens to him with rapt attention, his
presence overshadowing the room, oracular:

ACHESON
For the last fifteen years, I have
fought here at this table along side
your predecessors in the struggle
against the Soviet. Gentlemen, I do
not wish to seem melodramatic, but I
do wish to impress upon you one
observation with all conceivable
sincerity. A lesson I have learned
with bitter tears and great sacrifice.
(beat)
The Soviet understands only one
language: action. It respects only
one word: force.

Kenny stares at the old man. Acheson's gaze finds his through
the cigarette smoke. Acheson's eyes travel to the President.

ACHESON
I concur with General Taylor. I
recommend, sir, air strikes followed
by invasion, perhaps preceded by an
ultimatum to dismantle the missiles
if military necessity permits.

Taylor nods, vindicated. The others murmur their approval.
Bobby, at the table in front of Kenny and to his left, trades
a dire look with Kenny. This is happening too fast. Bobby
holds his head, looks about at the others, deeply distressed.

The President sinks back in his chair, staring at Acheson.

THE PRESIDENT
Then it appears we have three options.
Number one. A surgical air strike
against the missiles themselves.
Two, a larger air strike against
their air defenses along with the
missiles.

Kenny eyes Bobby. Bobby is writing something.

THE PRESIDENT
And three, invasion.

Bobby looks over his shoulder at Kenny, and REACHES BACK to
him with a folded NOTE. Kenny takes it, opens it.

It reads NOW I KNOW WHO TOJO FELT PLANNING PEARL HARBOR.

THE PRESIDENT
We're certainly going to do number
one; we're going to take out these
missiles, so it seems to me we don't
have to wait very long. We ought to
at least be making those preparations.

Kenny gives Bobby a curt nod. Bobby tilts his head at the
President: pass the note on to him. Kenny rises, slips the
note in front of the President.

The President unfolds the note, and we HOLD ON IT and his
reaction as in the b.g., out of focus, Taylor speaks:

GENERAL TAYLOR
Yes, sir, we're preparing to implement
all three options, though I must
stress again, sir, there are risks
to the strikes without the follow-on
invasion.

Bundy clears his throat. Speaks from somewhere down the table.

BUNDY
You want to be clear, Mr. President,
that we have definitely decided
against a political track.

The President folds the note away, glances at Bobby. A beat,
the President looks from Bobby to Acheson.

THE PRESIDENT
Dean, how does this play out?

ACHESON
Your first step, sir, will be to
demand that the Soviet withdraw the
missiles within 12 to 24 hours.
They will refuse. When they do, you
will order the strikes, followed by
the invasion. They will resist, but
will be overrun. They will retaliate
against a target somewhere else in
the world, most likely Berlin. We
will honor our treaty commitments
and resist them there, defeating
them per our plans.

THE PRESIDENT
Those plans call for the use of
nuclear weapons.
(beat)
And what is the next step?

Acheson sits back in his chair, smooths his moustache. A
dramatic beat, and then his ominous pronouncement rings out:

ACHESON
Hopefully cooler heads will prevail
before we reach the next step.

A chill runs down Kenny's spine. He looks in shock to the
President. The President remains calm. But in place of the
fated look the President has had, there's a hesitation.

INT. WEST WING HALLS - NIGHT

Acheson strides down the hall, Taylor, Sweeney, Carter and
Bundy swept along behind him. Bundy is on the defensive, the
others grim.

GENERAL TAYLOR
If McNamara'd get off the fence...

BUNDY
We have time.

GENERAL CARTER
Goddamn it, it's obvious. It's the
only option. That asshole, Stevenson.
We can't let this drag out or we
lose our shot.

BUNDY
Bombing them...

ACHESON
Remember that the Kennedys' father
was one of the architects of Munich.
The General is right. There is only
one responsible choice here.

Bundy just nods. Taylor grabs a door ahead for Acheson.

ACHESON
Let's pray appeasement doesn't run
in families. I fear weakness does.

And the men head into a stairwell going down.

INT. OVAL OFFICE - NIGHT

Grimacing in pain. He opens a pill bottle, takes two pills
out. He takes a whiskey in a shot glass from Kenny.

RESUME

Kenny finishes pouring him and Bobby a couple of more shots,
discreetly turning a blind eye to the President's pain.

The President returns from his desk, shirt untucked,
disheveled, back stiff. He eases into his rocking chair.
Bobby lies sprawled on the couch. Kenny sits down. They all
look at each other. A beat, something like shock.

KENNY
Jesus Christ Almighty...

They burst out laughing. An absurd, tension draining moment.
They shoot their drinks, Kenny refills.

KENNY
Call me Irish, but I don't believe
in cooler heads prevailing.

THE PRESIDENT
Acheson's scenario is unacceptable.
And he has more experience than
anyone.

KENNY
There is no expert on this subject,
no wise old man.

The President stares Kenny in the face, understanding.

THE PRESIDENT
The thing is, Acheson's right. Talk
alone won't accomplish anything.

Kenny considers the President, his face straight as he says:

KENNY
Then let's bomb the shit out of them.
Everyone wants to, even you, even
me.
(there's a point)
It sure would feel good.

The President sees what Kenny's saying: it'd be an emotional
response, not necessarily the intelligent one.

BOBBY
Jack, I'm as conniving as they come,
but a sneak attack is just wrong.

KENNY
He's right. And things are happening
too fast. It smells like the Bay of
Pigs all over again.

Bobby picks up some reconnaissance photos on the coffee table.

BOBBY
As if dealing with the Russians wasn't
hard enough, we gotta worry about
our own house.

THE PRESIDENT
Tonight, listening to Taylor and
Acheson, I kept seeing Burke and
Dulles telling me all I had to do
was sign on the dotted line. The
invasion would succeed. Castro would
be gone. Just like that. Easy.

The President is rendered mute by a wave of pain. Kenny and
Bobby aver their eyes. When it passes, the President is
hushed, grave.

THE PRESIDENT
There's something... immoral about
abandoning your own judgment.

Kenny nods, moved. The President reaches out for the
reconnaissance photos Bobby's flipping through. Bobby hands
them to him. The President looks them over. And when he
speaks, there's humility. And resolve.

THE PRESIDENT
We can't let things get ahead of
themselves. We've got to control
what happens. We're going to do what
we have to make this come out right.
EXCOM is our first weapon.
(beat)
We'll resort to others as we need
'em.

EXT. AIRPORT - BRIDGEPOINT, CONNECTICUT - DAY

SUPER: WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 17TH. DAY 2

A LONG SHOT of an ENORMOUS CROWD thronging a bunting-trimmed
platform. The President, barely recognizable at the distance,
and a cluster of political VIPS wave from it, smiling.

Kenny steps INTO FRAME, back here at the fringes of the crowd.

THE PRESIDENT (O.S.)
Doesn't anybody in Connecticut have
to work today?

The crowd goes nuts. Kenny paces, checks his watch, impatient
to be done with the necessary diversion. Kenny gazes off to
his right and spots Scotty Reston, along with half the White
House press corps suckered along. Scotty catches Kenny's
look.

Kenny turns away, but Scotty comes weaving over. The President
continues on, but all we hear is Scotty and Kenny.

RESTON
Kenny! What happened? They didn't
let me up front, said the President
was on the phone the whole time.

KENNY
He was.

RESTON
Yeah? Who was he talking to? Acheson?
Come on, O'Donnell, everyone's
wondering what's going on. What's
Acheson doing in town? And don't
give me some bullshit about DNC think
tanks. Acheson's Mr. Cold War.

KENNY
Why don't you ask him yourself? You
can have him on the way home.

RESTON
I'm giving you a chance here: talk
to me. You can influence how this
thing unfolds.

But Kenny stands there, mute. Reston just shakes his head,
knowing for sure something's up. He turns and heads back for
the press corps.

EXT. STAIRS TO AIR FORCE ONE - DAY

Kenny and the President climb the stairs to the Presidential
plane, the crowd cheering him. He gives a final wave.

THE PRESIDENT
Let's get out of here.

KENNY
Cheer up, you've neutralized the
entire White House Press Corps for a
day.

INT. GEORGE BALL'S CONFERENCE ROOM - DAY

EXCOM meets in George Ball's small conference room at the
State Department. Bobby, in shirtsleeves, paces at the head
of the table, very, very alone. All eyes are on him.

BOBBY
No. No. No. There is more than one
option here. If one isn't occurring
to us, it's because we haven't thought
hard enough.

McNamara squirms. The others react in frustration. CIA chief
JOHN MCCONE, sharp, tough, conservative, is harsh.

MCCONE
Sometimes there is only one right
choice, and you thank God when it's
clear.

BOBBY
You're talking about a sneak attack!
How'll that make us look? Big country
blasting a little one into the stone
age. We'll be real favorites around
the world.

ACHESON
Bobby, that's naive. This is the
real world, you know that better
than anybody. Your argument is
ridiculous.

MCCONE
You weren't so ethically particular
when we were talking about options
for removing Castro over at CIA.

And there's nothing Bobby can say to that. He props himself
up on the table, stares at it as if there's an answer in its
shiny surface somewhere. There is only the reflection of his
own face.

BOBBY
I can't let my brother go down in
History like a villain, like a Tojo,
ordering another Pearl Harbor.

McCone, Acheson, and Taylor share a look. The last resistance
to airstrikes is crumbling. Finally, Bobby looks up at
McNamara.

BOBBY
Bob. If we go ahead with these air
strikes...
(beat)
There's got to be something else.
Give it to me. I don't care how crazy,
inadequate or stupid it sounds.
(beat, pleading)
Give it to me.

McNamara suffers under the gaze of everyone at the table,
weighing the situation out. And finally he ventures.

MCNAMARA
Six months ago we gamed out a
scenario. It's slow. It doesn't get
rid of the missiles. There are a lot
of drawbacks.
(beat)
The scenario was for a blockade of
Cuba.

SUPER: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 18TH. DAY 3

INT. OVAL OFFICE - DAY

Kenny enters the office from his side door in the middle of
a debate. Military uniforms dominate the room: General Taylor,
General Sweeney, and a host of briefing officers.

GENERAL TAYLOR
The situation is worse than we
thought. We count 40 missiles now,
longer range IRBMs. They can hit
every city in the continental U.S.

The President stares out the window at the Rose Garden, his
back to Air Force Chief of Staff GENERAL CURTIS LEMAY, 60.
Beetle-browed, arrogant, the archetypal Cold War general.
Yet there is something about him, his intelligence perhaps,
that suggests he's playing a role he knows and believes in.

The only other civilians in the room are Bobby, Bundy and
McNamara. The pressure from the military is almost physical.

LEMAY
Mr. President, as of this moment my
planes are ready to carry out the
air strikes. All you have to do is
give me the word, sir, and my boys
will get those Red bastards.

The President continues staring out the window. Kenny eases
over to the desk, leans on it, arms folded, interposing
himself between the President and the soldiers. Bobby joins
him, side-by-side.

THE PRESIDENT
How long until the army is ready?

GENERAL TAYLOR
We've just begun the mobilization
under cover of a pre-arranged
exercise, sir. We're looking at
another week and a half, Mr.
President.

LEMAY
But you can begin the strikes, now.
The plans call for an eight-day air
campaign. It'd light a fire under
the army's ass to get in place.

That makes the President turn around, stare at LeMay.

THE PRESIDENT
General LeMay, do you truly believe
that's our best course of action?

LEMAY
Mr. President, I believe it is the
only course of action. American is
in danger. Those missiles are a threat
to our bomber bases and the safety
of our nuclear deterrent. Without
our deterrent, there's nothing to
keep the enemy from choosing general
nuclear war. It's our duty, our
responsibility to the American people
to take out those missiles and return
stability to the strategic situation.
The Big Red Dog is digging in our
back yard, and we're justified in
shooting him.

Taylor steps in softly, smoothly: good cop to LeMay's bad.

GENERAL TAYLOR
Sir, we have a rapidly closing window
of opportunity where we can prevent
those missiles from ever becoming
operational. The other options...

He spares a look at McNamara, who watches the fireworks,
arms folded, serious.

GENERAL TAYLOR
...do not guarantee the end result
we can guarantee. However, the more
time that goes by, the less reliable
the choice we can offer you becomes.

The President, partially defused, looks from Taylor to
McNamara. LeMay steps forward, softer now, sincere.

LEMAY
Mr. President, the motto I chose for
SAC is 'Peace is our Profession.'
God forbid we find ourselves in a
nuclear exchange. But if launched,
those missiles in Cuba would kill a
lot of Americans. That's why I'm
being such a pain in the ass about
destroying them. Destroying them
immediately. Hell, even Mac agrees.

Bundy is uncomfortable. Everyone turns to him. He nods. Kenny
realizes he's been co-opted by the military. McNamara does
too, lets out a deep breath. The President eyes Bundy, then
paces out from behind his desk, walks up to LeMay.

THE PRESIDENT
General, what will the Soviets do
when we attack?

LEMAY
Nothing.

Kenny, Bobby and the President look at each other, unable to
believe what they just heard.

THE PRESIDENT
Nothing?

LEMAY
Nothing. Because the only alternative
open to them is one they can't choose.

His pronouncement hangs there in the air: ominous, dangerous.

THE PRESIDENT
Those aren't just missiles we'll be
destroying. We kill Soviet soldiers,
and they will respond. How would we
respond if they killed ours? No,
they will do something, General, I
promise you that. And I believe it'll
be Berlin.

INT. WEST WING HALLWAY - DAY

LeMay walk out of the Oval Office with Taylor, Carter and
their staffers.

LEMAY
Those goddamn Kennedys are going to
destroy this country if we don't do
something about this.

There are dark looks on the faces of the other officers.
They agree.

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - DAY

As the meeting next door disperses, the President rummages
through Kenny's jacket which hangs on Kenny's chair. Kenny,
bemused, holds out the package of cigarettes the President
is looking for.

KENNY
I was hoping LeMay pushed you. I
wouldn't mind going a few rounds
with him.

The President glances up, takes the proffered smokes.

THE PRESIDENT
We knew it was coming. I tell you,
Kenny, these brass hats have one big
advantage. We do what they want us
to, none of us will be alive to tell
'em they were wrong.

Bobby, Rusk and Sorensen enter from the hall.

SORENSEN
Mr. President, Gromyko should be on
his way by now.

RUSK
We need to go over what you're going
to say.

BOBBY
There's still no sign they know that
we know about the missiles. Been a
lot of cloud cover; probably think
we aren't getting any good product.

THE PRESIDENT
We keep 'em in the dark as long as
we can. But I sure as hell am going
to test him.

INT. WEST WING HALL - DAY

Kenny comes out of the bathroom, and is buttonholed by the
crewcut, bullet-headed Press Secretary, PIERRE SALINGER, in
the crowded, busy hallway.

SALINGER
Kenny, I'm getting funny questions
from the guys in the press office.
As Press Secretary, I need to know.
What's going on?

Kenny wheels back into his office. It's filled with people.
But he bends confidentially to Pierre's ear.

KENNY
They're planning to shave you bald
next time you fall asleep on the
bus.
(off Pierre's get-
serious look)
Sorry, Pierre, Gromyko just arrived.

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - DAY

The Press Corps throngs Kenny's tiny office, pushing and
shoving for a vantage at the side door to the Oval Office,
waiting for the Gromyko photo-op. Kenny stands shoulder-to
shoulder with Reston and Sorensen near the door.

RESTON
Are they going to discuss the military
exercises going on in Florida?

Kenny doesn't even blink, but Sorensen does a poorer job at
hiding his reaction.

KENNY
Come on, Scotty. This meeting's been
on the books for months. It's just a
friendly talk on U.S.-Soviet
relations.

Fortunately, the conversation is cut short as a dozen
FLASHBULBS suddenly go off on a dozen cameras as the reporters
crush in on the Oval Office, and Reston is swept forward.

KENNY'S POV:

over the reporters. The President, unsmiling, enters the
room beside Soviet Foreign Minister, ANDREI GROMYKO. Gromyko
pauses for the photos: grim, dark haired, saturnine.

RESUME

Kenny reacts. At last, the face of the enemy.

INT. OVAL OFFICE - NIGHT

The CAMERA picks up the darkened windows: the meeting has
gone long. The CAMERA MOVES PAST Kenny and Sorensen standing
in the doorway to Kenny's office, FINDS the President in his
chair across from Gromyko on the sofa. Rusk, Ambassador
ANATOLY DOBRINYN, and two INTERPRETERS around them.

THE PRESIDENT
So that there should be no
misunderstanding, the position of
the United States, which has been
made clear by the Attorney General
to Ambassador Dobrynin here, I shall
read a sentence from my own statement
to the press dated September 13th.
(beat, reading)
Should missiles or offensive weapons
be placed in Cuba, it would present
the gravest threat to U.S. national
security.

The President stares at Gromyko as the translator finishes
translating. Gromyko sits there, enigmatic, cold, unreadable.
The translator finishes, and Gromyko stops him with a gesture
so he can answer in his own accented English.

GROMYKO
Mr. President, this will never be
done. You need not be concerned.

The President hides his fury masterfully, and gazing over
his glasses, asks:

THE PRESIDENT
So I do not misunderstand you: there
are no offensive weapons in Cuba.

A beat. And Gromyko's response is flat, sure, steady:

GROMYKO
No, Mr. President. We have sent
defensive weapons only to Cuba.

Kenny's blazing eyes could drill holes in the back of
Gromyko's head. His gaze swings to the PRESIDENT'S DESK.

BENEATH THE DESK sit the BRIEFING BOARDS with the evidence.

INT. WEST WING HALLWAY - NIGHT

Kenny emerges from his office. The Soviet delegation
disappears down the hallway with Rusk. Kenny turns as Bobby,
haggard, comes up from the other direction.

Bobby gestures to the vanishing delegation, now being
HARANGUED OC by the press.

BOBBY
What happened?

The President comes out of the next door down the hall, the
Oval Office. He turns and sees Kenny and Bobby. He's livid.

THE PRESIDENT
Lying bastard. Lied to my face.

BOBBY
We're split down the middle. If I
held a vote I think airstrike would
beat blockade by a vote or two.

THE PRESIDENT
I want a consensus, Bobby. Consensus.
Either air strike or blockade.
Something everyone'll stand by even
if they don't like it. I need it by
Saturday. Make it happen.

BOBBY
What if I can't?

KENNY
We go into this split, the Russians
will know it. And they'll use it
against us.

The prospect disturbs the three men.

THE PRESIDENT
Have you canceled Chicago and the
rest of the weekend yet?

KENNY
You don't show for Chicago,
everyone'll know there's something
going on.

THE PRESIDENT
I don't care. Cancel it.

KENNY
No way.

The President spins on him, unsure he heard correctly.

KENNY
I'm not calling and canceling on
Daly. You call and cancel on Daly.

THE PRESIDENT
You're scared to cancel on Daly.

KENNY
Damn right I'm scared.

The President pauses, looks at Bobby. Bobby shakes his head:
don't look at me.

THE PRESIDENT
Well, I'm not.

BOBBY
Then you'll call, right?

INT. HALLWAY - SHERATON-BLACKSTONE HOTEL - NIGHT

SUPER: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19TH. DAY 4

THEN SUPER: CHICAGO

Kenny threads his way through the host of SECRET SERVICE
AGENTS and ADVANCE MAN cramming the hallway on the floor of
the hotel they've taken over. From one of the rooms emerges
Salinger.

SALINGER
Kenny, all right. What's going on
here? There's rumors going around an
exercise in the southeast is related
to Cuba. I'm the Press Secretary. I
can't do my job if I don't know what's
going on. So what's going on?

KENNY
What are you telling them?

SALINGER
The truth: I don't know.

KENNY
(deadly serious)
Tell 'em you've looked into it, and
all it is is an exercise. And Pierre --
(beat, loaded)
The President may have a cold
tomorrow.

Kenny stares at him, and the light dawns on Pierre. Something
big is going on and he's been cut out of it. He stalks off.

SALINGER
Damn it, Kenny. Goddamn it!

INT. RECEPTION HALL - SHERATON-BLACKSTONE - NIGHT

A big 100-dollar-a-plate dinner is in full swing to a dinner
band's tunes. The President and Chicago MAYOR RICHARD DALY
make the rounds among the fund raising CROWD. Kenny follows
them at a respectful distance, greeting old cronies.

Suddenly a MESSENGER hustles over to Kenny, hands him a note.
Kenny makes eye contact with the President, nods and leaves.

INT. HOTEL ELEVATORS - NIGHT

Kenny waits at the elevator. Scotty saunters up behind him.
He sizes Kenny up, clears his throat. Kenny turns around.

RESTON
There are major rail disruptions in
the South, two airborne divisions
are on alert. That exercise is an
invasion.

KENNY
Well, you know how Bobby has it in
for the State of Mississippi.

RESTON
This is about Cuba.

Kenny freezes, then explodes.

KENNY
Cuba? You're fucking crazy. We are
not invading Cuba. Nobody gives a
rat's ass about Cuba. Not now, not
ever. If you print something like
that, all you're going to do is
inflame the situation. Nobody talks
to assholes who inflame situations.
Assholes like that can find themselves
cut out of the loop.

Reston is taken aback. Stung silence for a beat. Kenny's
response is far louder than any "yes." Now Kenny realizes
it.

RESTON
You've never threatened me before.

And Kenny looks away, upset, but when he turns back to Reston,
all that's there is his poker face. The elevator arrives.

RESTON
All right. I'm not going to print
anything until I have another source.
But I promise you, I'll get one.

Kenny boards the elevator. The doors shut on Scotty.

INT. ELEVATOR - CONTINUOUS

Kenny closes his eyes, sags against the wall, hating himself.

INT. KENNY'S ROOM - CONTINUOUS

Kenny enters his hotel room. An Assistant waits with the
phone, hands it straight to Kenny.

KENNY
(to Assistant)
Tell Pierre I need to talk to him.
(to phone)
Bobby?

INT. OUTER ROOM - GEORGE BALL'S OFFICE - NIGHT

EXCOM files past Bobby out of George Ball's conference room.

BOBBY
Bring him back.

EXT. STREET OUTSIDE SHERATON-BLACKSTONE HOTEL - DAY

SUPER: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20TH. DAY 5

The President emerges from the hotel, a HAT on his head. The
Press and a CROWD surge forward, crying out for the
President's attention. Kenny slides into the limo first as
the President waves to the crowd.

Salinger waits on the sidewalk, and after the limo pulls
away, the Press pushes in on him. Pierre's face is pale --
he's just been told everything.

SALINGER
The President has a cold. He is
canceling the remainder of this trip
and is returning to Washington on
the advice of his doctor.

INT. WHITE HOUSE MANSION - OVAL ROOM - DAY

The White House Oval ROOM: opulent, filled with priceless
art and furniture, but cramped. EXCOM members crowd around
the center coffee table and the President. Kenny stands behind
him with Bobby. Rusk rises from his seat, formal.

RUSK
Mr. President, our deliberations
have led us to the conclusion that,
for the moment, a blockade of
offensive weapons to Cuba is our
best option. But we'll still need a
strong showing of support from the
Organization of American States to
give us an umbrella of legitimacy.

At long last... Kenny looks at Bobby, relieved. They've bought
time to find a settlement. Bobby smiles a small smile: what
were you so worried about?

MCNAMARA
A blockade is technically an act of
war, therefore we recommend calling
the action a quarantine.

McNamara folder in hand, opens it, SMASH CUTTING US TO:

EXT. ATLANTIC OCEAN - DAY

A SOVIET FREIGHTER churning its way south.

MCNAMARA (V.O.)
There are between 20 and 30 Soviet
ships underway to Cuba at this time.

The CAMERA races along its side, discovering TARPULINED
OBJECTS on deck, and on its stack, the RED HAMMER AND SICKLE.

MCNAMARA
800 miles out, the navy will stop
them, board, and any vessels
containing weapons will be turned
back.

CUT TO:

The Destroyer U.S.S. JOHN R. PIERCE putting out to sea,
SAILORS racing over its deck, through hatches to its 5-inch
gun turrets. The ship races by, AMERICAN FLAG streaming from
its stern distaff, FILLING THE SCREEN, WIPING TO:

INT. WHITE HOUSE MANSION - OVAL ROOM - CONTINUOUS

The President. He listens, looks over the briefing papers as
McNamara continues. Everyone watches the President.

MCNAMARA
A quarantine prevents more missiles
from reaching Cuba, but it doesn't
remove the ones already there. It
gives the Soviets a chance to pull
back without war. If they refuse to
remove the missiles before they're
operational, we retain the option to
strike or invade.

BOBBY
We believe that a surprise attack
would be counter to what the United
States stands for. We believe that
an attack leaves us no room for
maneuver, and the inevitable Soviet
response will force us into a war we
do not want. A war that, this time,
will really end all war.

MCCONE
Mr. President, there are still those
of us who believe we should proceed
with the strikes. With the blockade,
we lose strategic surprise and we
run the risk of a first strike if
the Soviets decide they have to use
the missiles or lose them.

The President gazes from one expectant face to another. But
he himself remains unreadable.

THE PRESIDENT
Quarantine or air strike.

Adlai clears his throat. Everyone looks over at him. He stares
down at his clasped hands for a beat. He's anguished about
what he's going to say.

ADLAI
There is a third option. With either
course we undertake the risk of
nuclear war. It seems to me maybe
one of us in here should be a coward.

He smiles weakly, but gets no response from anyone.

ADLAI
So I guess I'll be. Our third choice
is to cut a deal. We trade Guantanamo
and our missiles in Turkey, get them
to pull their missiles out. We employ
a back channel, attribute the idea
to U Thant. U Thant then raises it
at the U.N.

Adlai looks for support around the room, but meets only stony
gazes. From McCone and General Taylor, contempt. Dead silence
for a long, long beat.

Kenny's heart goes out to Stevenson as he watches the man
commit political suicide. Even Sorensen, standing behind
him, unconsciously moves away. At last the President speaks.

THE PRESIDENT
I don't think that's possible, Adlai.
(beat, to the room)
I will be asking the networks for
air time Monday night. I have not
yet made my final decision. We will
announce our course of action then.
I want to thank you all for your
advice, gentlemen.

EXT. TRUMAN BALCONY - DAY

Kenny, Bobby, and the President lean on the railing of the
Truman Balcony, stare out at the city.

BOBBY
Goddamn Stevenson. Jesus. Peace at
any price. You'd think nobody learned
anything from World War Two.

THE PRESIDENT
Somebody had to say it. I respect
Adlai for having the guts to risk
looking like an appeaser.

BOBBY
We have to pull him. He's not going
to be able to handle the Soviets in
front of the U.N. Zorin will eat him
alive.

THE PRESIDENT
We've got bigger problems right now.

KENNY
We have to try the blockades. It
probably won't work. It may just be
delaying the inevitable. But we can't
just go to war without trying not
to.

THE PRESIDENT
I don't know. I don't know.

He stares out at the Ellipse where a little-league football
game sweeps across the grass, the shouts and screams of the
CHILDREN, so alive, floating to them on the wind.

EXT. PATIO - JIM ROWE'S HOUSE - NIGHT

A crowded D.C. party spills out of Jim Rowe's house onto his
patio. Kenny steps INTO FRAME. He looks at the PARTYGOERS,
the Washington social set. He stands out, oppressed by the
knowledge he's unable to share. He takes a stiff drink.

Suddenly out of the house totters Adlai, highball in hand.
Glassy-eyed, he grins at Kenny and joins him.

ADLAI
Just can't get away from you guys.
Escaping for a night on the town,
eh?

KENNY
As the town's most popular playboy,
the President felt my presence would
be sorely missed. So in the interests
of National Security...

Kenny shrugs. Adlai takes a long drink, closes his eyes.

ADLAI
Gotta keep up appearances. Of course,
I don't care anymore. I'm a political
dead man. You ever seen a man cut
his own throat like I did today?

Kenny has no answer to that. He looks down, pained for Adlai.

ADLAI
Well, it's all right.
(beat)
I came to tell you, just talked to a
friend. Reston and Frankel have the
story. It's going to run tomorrow.

INT. BEDROOM - JIM ROWE'S HOUSE - LATER

Kenny, shut in the bedroom, paces on the phone.

KENNY
We're not going to make it to Monday.
I'll try to lean on Reston, but you're
going to have to call Orville Dryfoos.
This is the sort of decision the
publisher makes himself.

INT. ORVILLE DRYFOOS' KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS

New York Times publisher ORVILLE DRYFOOS sits at his kitchen
table in his underwear, still half-asleep, phone to his ear.

DRYFOOS
Yes, sir, I understand. But we held
on Bay of Pigs and it was the biggest
mistake of my life. What makes this
any different?

INT. PRESIDENT'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS

The President, on the phone, stops pacing by his bedside
table and exhales.

THE PRESIDENT
I'm asking you to hold the story
until I can present our course of
action on Monday night.

INT. ORVILLE DRYFOOS' KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS

DRYFOOS
All right. But I need a reason to
give my boys. They're going to be
screaming for my head on a plate.

INT. PRESIDENT'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS

THE PRESIDENT
Orville. I want you to tell them
this: they'll be saving lives. Maybe
even including their own.

INT. ORVILLE DRYFOOS' KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS

At that, Dryfoos sits up. Serious. All resistance gone.

DRYFOOS
Yes, Mr. President.

INT. ST. STEPHEN'S CHURCH - DAY

SUPER: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 21ST. DAY 6

AVE MARIA soars over the communion meditation at a crowded
Sunday mass. Kenny, in a pew, glances off to his left.

The President sits nearby, head bowed. But Kenny knows he's
not thinking about the mass. And when the President at last
lifts his head, Kenny sees the calm poise.

The President has made up his mind...

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - DAY

Bobby barges into Kenny's office. Kenny, knowing his unique
entry, doesn't bother to look up.

KENNY
Acheson called, DeGaulle's with us;
haven't heard from anyone else yet.

Kenny finally looks up. Bobby's grim. And an icicle forms in
Kenny's gut as Bobby relays.

BOBBY
He wants to talk to LeMay again.

INT. OVAL OFFICE - DAY

Kenny, Bobby, McNamara, Rusk, Bundy and half of EXCOM stand
to the side of the room. General Sweeney and LeMay stand in
front of the President's desk.

The President, bowed in the window, is care-worn, a thousand
years old. The shadow, the composition of the SHOT tells us
all. It's down to what's in the heart of one man. Kenny is
deeply moved at his friend's Gethsemane.

THE PRESIDENT
Cam, can you guarantee me you'll get
all the missiles?

Sweeney glances at LeMay. LeMay's stern, frozen look wills
him to say, very simply, "yes."

But then the President turns around, looks Sweeney in the
eye. It would make Machiavelli himself tell the truth.

GENERAL SWEENEY
Sir, I can guarantee we'll get all
the missiles we know about.

The President holds Sweeney in his gaze. Thank you.

LEMAY
Mr. President, we can get better
than ninety percent of them.

The President doesn't respond to LeMay's last-ditch appeal.
Ninety-percent isn't good enough with nuclear weapons. He
moves to his desk, signs a paper, hands it to General Sweeney.

THE PRESIDENT
As of seven o'clock Monday night,
all United States armed forces world
wide will stand up to DEFCON 3.

EXT. BARKSDALE AFB - SUNSET

SUPER: MONDAY, OCTOBER 22ND. DAY 7

A DEAFENING WHINE. And INTO FRAME yawns the enormous spinning
mouth of a B-52 bomber jet engine. It closes on us, sucking
us in like a maelstrom, but at the last second the CAMERA
SLIPSTREAMS OVER IT --

-- carrying us over the aircraft's wing. The CAMERA pivots
and the vast war machine crawls away underneath joining --

-- a long LINE of identical behemoths, in single file inching
down a taxi way which vanishes into the distance. As the
plane's immense vertical tail WIPES OUR VIEW:

EXT. MISSILE SILO - NIGHT

The CAMERA races toward a spotlighted concrete emplacement,
over the immense BLAST DOOR which is sliding open, and DOWN --

INT. MISSILE SILO - CONTINUOUS

into the depths of a missile silo. The CAMERA speeds down
the side of the Titan missile, through CLOUDS of steaming
liquid hydrogen, past FUELING HOSES which clamp one by one
to the rocket's side, past GANTRY ARMS pulling away. The
CAMERA hurtles all the way to the bottom, SMASHING THROUGH
THE FLOOR TO:

EXT. CARRIBEAN SEA - NIGHT

The dark ocean, whitecaps whipping luminous around the
aircraft carrier, U.S.S. ESSEX and her escorts. Running lights
flash red and green.

The carrier's SIREN begins a lonely, eerie WOOP WOOP WOOP
WOOP like some immense creature which has lost its mind.
The ship FILLS THE SCREEN, CUTTING US INTO:

INT. WEST WING - CONTINUOUS

The doors to the Cabinet room. A beat. Then they SWING WIDE.
The President emerges, livid fury on his face, leaving chaos
behind: the Congressional briefing. Kenny comes out a beat
later, catches up with him.

KENNY
You'd worry that something was wrong
if Congress offered you unconditional
support.

THE PRESIDENT
They want this fucking job, they can
have it. It's no great joy to me.

The President exhales, getting control.

THE PRESIDENT
The elected representatives of the
people have spoken...
(beat; determined)
Now let's tell the people...

INT. OVAL OFFICE - NIGHT

Kenny stands there in the doorway, arms folded. As we PULL
AWAY FROM HIM, we REVEAL the three NETWORK T.V. CAMERAS
staring straight at us. Their red lights go on as one, and
we swing around REVERSING TO:

The President at his desk: telegenic, powerful.

THE PRESIDENT
Good evening, my fellow citizens.
This Government, as promised, has
maintained the closest surveillance
of the Soviet military build-up on
the island of Cuba...

EXT. BARKSDALE AFB - NIGHT

The first B-52 trundles to a stop at the end of the runway.
It begins to throttle-up, the ROAR of its engine mounting...

THE PRESIDENT (V.O.)
...unmistakable evidence has now
established the fact that a series
of missile sites is in preparation
on that imprisoned island. The purpose
of these bases can be none other
than to proved a nuclear strike
capability against the Western
Hemisphere...

-- AND DROWNING OUT the President's speech as the plane
lurches forward, down the runway into the night.

EXT. MISSILE SILO - NIGHT

The Titan solo door GRINDS OPEN. And the missile inside begins
to rise into the white bath of the crossed spotlights.

THE PRESIDENT (V.O.)
Therefore, in the defense of our own
security and under the authority of
the Constitution, I have directed
that the following initial steps be
taken. First, to halt this offensive
build-up, a strict quarantine --

EXT. CARRIBEAN SEA - NIGHT

The President's words conjure the ESSEX battlegroup, its
destroyers plunging through heavy seas, lit up in the night.

THE PRESIDENT (V.O.)
-- on all offensive military equipment
under shipment to Cuba is being
initiated. All ships of any kind
bound for Cuba, if found to contain
cargoes of offensive weapons, will
be turned back. Second: I have
directed the continued and increased
close surveillance of Cuba and its
military build-up. Should these
offensive military preparations
continue, further action will be
justified --

EXT. OVER THE FLORIDA STRAITS - NIGHT

A flight of F-4 PHANTOMS drops INTO FRAME, lights flashing.

THE PRESIDENT (V.O.)
-- I have directed the Armed Forces
to prepare for any eventualities.

INT. OVAL OFFICE - NIGHT

A beat. And the President looks up from his notes.

THE PRESIDENT
And third: it shall be the policy of
this nation to regard any nuclear
missile launched from Cuba against
any nation in the Western Hemisphere
as an attack by the Soviet Union on
the United States, requiring a full
retaliatory response upon the Soviet
Union...

The chilling words hang there in the air. BLEEDING IN: the
rising and falling WOOP WOOP WOOP WOOP which becomes --

EXT. CARRIBEAN SEA - NIGHT

-- the voice of the Essex battlegroup: sparkling, alive, a
constellation of lights scattered across the sea. One by one
the escort ships answer the carrier's SIREN with their own
wailing cries, an alien chorus among the ships, disappearing
and reappearing in the swells. The communication crescendos
to its fever pitch -- and then the battlegroup goes to
blackout. Like a dying universe, the answering sirens cut
off, the life-lights wink out, and an appalling darkness
falls across the sea...

FADE OUT:

BLACKNESS, LIKE BEFORE A CURTAIN RISES. And then a flickering:
a FLUORESCENT LIGHT COMES ON.

INT. BATHROOM - WEST WING - DAY

SUPER: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 23RD. DAY 8

Kenny, stripped to the waist, Sorensen and Bundy shave in
nearby sinks. Bobby barges in.

BOBBY
We're getting the Soviet response.

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - MOMENTS LATER

Specks of shaving cream still on his face, Kenny paces, reads
the inky carbon as Bobby, Bundy and Sorensen read copies.

KENNY
This is all rhetoric.
(realizing)
They don't know how to respond yet.

Kenny looks up. The President enters from the Oval Office.

THE PRESIDENT
So now you're Khurschev. What do you
do?

INT. CABINET ROOM - DAY

Kenny, arms folded, stands behind the President, the rest of
EXCOM is looking at him.

KENNY
-- run the blockade. They'll run the
blockade.

ADMIRAL GEORGE ANDERSON, 50s, dapper, the Chief of Naval
Operations, nods from the far end of the table.

ADMIRAL ANDERSON
Which is exactly what they appear to
be preparing to do, Mr. President.
We're tracking 26 ships inbound to
Cuba. There's no sign they're changing
course. The closest ships, the Gagarin
and the Kimovsk, will make the
quarantine line by this time tomorrow.

MCNAMARA
We're concerned about the possibility
of an incident with an innocent cargo
carrier. If it turns ugly, the
Russians could use an ugly incident
and bad world opinion as leverage to
force us to remove the quarantine.

MCCONE
Or they could use it as an excuse to
escalate.

BOBBY
Admiral Anderson, if the ships do
not stop, what exactly are our rules
of engagement?

Anderson signals A BRIEFING OFFICER who hits the lights and
an overhead projector which SMASH CUTS TO:

INT. BRIDGE - U.S.S. JOHN R. PIERCE - DAY

The bridge of the U.S.S. John Pierce, a Gearing class
destroyer. A RADIO OPERATOR addresses a mike in Russian.

ADMIRAL ANDERSON (V.O.)
Russian-speakers have been transferred
to all of our ships. Once the
quarantine takes effect in the
morning, our ships will attempt to
make radio contact with the
approaching vessels. They will be
ordered to reduce speed and prepare
for inspection.

INT. WEAPONS' LOCKER - U.S.S. PIERCE - DAY

MARINES in flak jackets grab M-16s off a rack, race by.

EXT. U.S.S. PIERCE - AFT DECK - DAY

A ship's boat full of Marines lowers away, hits the water,
engine spraying as it launches forward -- in dress rehearsal.

ADMIRAL ANDERSON (V.O.)
An inspection party will then board
and search the ship. If weapons are
found, the ship will be ordered to
leave the quarantine area or be towed
into port upon refusal.

INT. CABINET ROOM - DAY

All eyes are on Admiral Anderson's overhead projections.
Bobby, restless, gets up, begins pacing.

BOBBY
What happens if the ship doesn't
stop for inspection or want to be
towed?

ADMIRAL ANDERSON
A warning shot will be fired across
its bow.

Bobby stops, stares directly at the Admiral.

BOBBY
And what happens if the ship ignores
the warning shot?

ADMIRAL ANDERSON
Then we fire at its rudder, disable
it, and carry out the inspection.

Kenny looks at the President who remains unmoved, unreadable.

THE PRESIDENT
There will be no shooting without my
explicit orders. Is that understood?

ADMIRAL ANDERSON
Yes, sir.

The President glances at McNamara.

THE PRESIDENT
Well, Admiral, it looks like it's up
to the Navy.

ADMIRAL ANDERSON
The Navy won't let you down, sir.

THE PRESIDENT
General, have we developed any more
information on the missiles?

GENERAL TAYLOR
They are continuing to proceed with
the development. We're commencing
low-level photography runs this
morning.

MCCONE
The pictures will be used to firm up
our estimates of the missiles'
readiness and develop target packages
for strikes should you order them.

GENERAL TAYLOR
Our guy running this show is the
best. Commander Bill Ecker of the
Navy's VFP 62, the Fightin' Photo.
Something of a character, but the
highest efficiency ratings we've
ever had.

He pushes Ecker's personnel file across the table, and as
the President opens it, on ECKER'S PHOTO, we SMASH CUT TO:

INT. READY ROOM - KEY WEST NAVAL AIR STATION - DAY

The man himself, COMMANDER BILL ECKER, 30s, playing cards,
smoking cigars with his wingman, LIEUTENANT BRUCE WILHEMY
and the PILOTS of VFP-62, the 'Fightin' Photo.' They lounge,
tinker with equipment. Their ready room is filled with pin
ups, movie posters, and all things photographic.

ECKER
75 millimeter, I'm listening. On the
big screen there's nothing like it.

The other pilots heckle him, but are muted by Taylor.

GENERAL TAYLOR (V.O.)
To protect our pilots, we're prepared
to retaliate against any SAM site or
anti aircraft battery that opens
fire.

WILHEMY
Watch out, Hollywood. There's a new
epic director in town!

INT. CABINET ROOM - DAY

EXCOM listens in sober silence.

GENERAL TAYLOR
We have a flight of Thunderchiefs
able to respond within minutes of an
attack on our planes.

Kenny catches the President's eye. Kenny glances at the door.
Step outside, I need to talk to you.

INT. OVAL OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

The President and Kenny stand in front of the President's
desk. All the doors are shut. Weak sunlight filters into the
hushed room as if to a confessional.

KENNY
I don't like what's happening.

THE PRESIDENT
In the morning I'm taking charge of
the blockade from the situation room.
McNamara'll set up shop in the flag
plot at the Pentagon, keep an eye on
things there.

KENNY
All right. 'Cause you get armed
boarders climbing into Soviet ships,
shots being fired across bows...

THE PRESIDENT
I know, I know...

KENNY
What about these low-level flights?
They're starting in what? An hour?
Do you realize what you're letting
yourself in for?

THE PRESIDENT
We need those flights. We have to
know when those missiles become
operational, because when they do,
we need to destroy them.

KENNY
Fair enough. But Castro's on alert
and we're flying attack planes over
their sites, on the deck. There's no
way for them to know they're carrying
cameras, not bombs. They're going to
be shot at, plain and simple.

Kenny's right, and the President looks away in frustration.

KENNY
I'm your political advisor, and I'm
giving you political analysis here.
This is a setup. The Chiefs want to
go in. It's the only way they can
redeem themselves for the Bay of
Pigs. They have to go in, and they
have to do it right. It's that simple.

THE PRESIDENT
I'm gonna protect those pilots.

Thep President stares intently at Kenny. Kenny glances at
the door, his voice hushed. He hesitates.

KENNY
They're boxing us in with these rules
of engagement. If you agree to 'em,
and one of our planes gets knocked
down or one of the ships won't stop
for inspection, the Chiefs will have
us by the balls and will force us to
start shooting. They want a war, and
they're arranging things to get one.
If you don't want one, we have to do
something about it.

The President understands. He shakes his head, paces away.

THE PRESIDENT
How does a man get to a place where
he can say, 'throw those lives away,'
so easily?

KENNY
Maybe it's harder for them to say it
than they let on. At the very least,
they believe it's in our best
interest. And at the end of the day,
they may end up being right.

The President turns away, considers. Then turns back.

THE PRESIDENT
Triple check everything the Chiefs
say to us with the guys who actually
have to do it. No one's to know about
this but Bobby. I need redundant
control over what happens out there.
And if things aren't as advertised,
you're going to make sure they come
out the way I want them to come out,
starting with this low level flight
thing.

Jesus Christ... Kenny is daunted. For a beat he just stares.

KENNY
That's going to be tough. You know
how these guys are about their chains
of command...

THE PRESIDENT
Any problems, you remind them those
chains of commands end at one place.
Me.

INT. WEST WING HALLS - DAY

Kenny and the President head for the Cabinet Room. Rusk comes
out before they get there.

RUSK
Mr. President. The OAS meeting starts
in an hour. I haven't prepared at
all. We can't expect --

THE PRESIDENT
-- we need this one, Dean. The
quarantine's legal if we get a
mandate, otherwise it's an act of
war in the eyes of the world. Get me
that vote. Make it unanimous.

RUSK
Mr. President, The Organization of
American States hasn't had a unanimous
vote since --

The President moves for the Cabinet Room.

THE PRESIDENT
-- unanimous, Dean.

Kenny slaps the dismayed Rusk on the back, heads off down a
hall away from the Cabinet Room.

INT. WHITE HOUSE SWITCHBOARD - DAY

Kenny opens the door to the White House switchboard room. A
half-dozen OPERATORS work their lines, making connections on
the old-fashioned switchboard. Unnoticed, he sizes them up,
their skill. They're all courteous, pretty, professional.

The CAMERA PANS down the line... and stops on a middle-aged
matron at the end -- the sternest, most scary of them all.
Her name is MARGARET.

MARGARET
White House Operator. Yes sir.
(beat, harsh, booming)
Speaker McCormack, hold for the Vice
President.

Her voice is so severe, so smoker-gravelled, it makes the
blood run cold. This is the woman Kenny's looking for.

KENNY
Ma'am, would you mind helping me out
with a few special calls?

INT. READY ROOM - KEY WEST NAS - DAY

Ecker, Wilhemy and their Pilots are in angry debate.

ECKER
Orson Welles is a hack. Now you want
to talk about a director, you talk
about David Lean...

WILHEMY
Welles is a God. Lean's the hack.

ECKER
Bullshit, Bruce, nobody but Lean is
making decent movies these days.
(to Young Pilot)
Get that fixed yet?

Nearby, a YOUNG PILOT tinkers with a $300,000 spy camera.

YOUNG PILOT
Uhhh... yup. Think so.

Suddenly, the door opens and a pale DUTY SERGEANT enters.

DUTY SERGEANT
Sir... telephone, sir.

INT. DUTY OFFICE - DAY

Ecker enters, marches over to the phone. All the SOLDIERS in
the room stare at him. Ecker wiggles his cigar to a corner
of his mouth, picks up, styling.

ECKER
VFP-62, Fightin' Photo, here. But
what we really want to do is direct.

INTERCUT CALL TO:

INT. WHITE HOUSE SWITCHBOARD - CONTINUOUS

Margaret works her magic.

MARGARET
This is the White House Operator.
Hold for the President.

INT. DUTY OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

Ecker blinks, becomes a mild lamb.

ECKER
Oh shit.

INT. WHITE HOUSE SWITCHBOARD - CONTINUOUS

MARGARET
Honey, you don't know what shit is.

BEGIN INTERCUT:

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

Kenny, sitting on his desk, taps his fingers, looks at the
phone. He's kept Ecker on hold long enough -- and picks up.

KENNY
Commander, my name is Ken O'Donnell.
Special Assistant to the President.

INTERCUT CALL TO:

INT. DUTY OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

Ecker exhales. It's not the President, but Ecker is so shaken
up it might as well be.

ECKER
Yes, sir.

KENNY (O.S.)
The President has instructed me to
pass along an order to you.
(beat)
You are not to get shot down.

Did he hear right?

ECKER
Uh... we'll do our best, sir.

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

KENNY
I don't think you understand me
correctly. You are not to get shot
down under any circumstances. Whatever
happens up there, you were not shot
at. Mechanical failures are fine;
crashing into mountains, fine. But
you and your men are not to be shot
at, fired at, launched upon.

INT. DUTY OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

Ecker sits down in a chair, sobered.

ECKER
Excuse me, sir, what's going on here?

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

Kenny stands, drops the hard nose bullshit.

KENNY
Commander, if you are fired upon,
the President will be forced to attack
the sites that fire on you. He doesn't
want to have to do that. It's very
important that he doesn't, or things
could go very badly out of control.

INT. DUTY OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

Ecker lets out a long breath.

ECKER
I think I understand. What about my
men? If it comes up hot and heavy,
and we don't have anyone to protect
us... I'm going to be writing letters
to parents. I hate writing letters
to parents.

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

Kenny nods to himself, feeling. He's done it himself.

KENNY
If the President protects you,
Commander, he may have to do it with
the Bomb.

INT. DUTY OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

Ecker doesn't want to be avenged with atomic weapons. No
sane person would.

KENNY (V.O.)
I've known the man for fifteen years.
The problem is, he will protect you.
So I'm asking: don't make him protect
you. Don't get shot at.

Ecker down, deeply affected. Suddenly, A BELL RINGS. A
TELETYPE goes off. Ecker knows it's for him. His orders.

ECKER
Okay, Mr. O'Donnell. We'll do what
we can.

END INTERCUT:

As Ecker hangs up, the Duty Officer rips off the ORDERS,
hands them to Ecker, who takes one look, then gazes out the
window at the runway --

EXT. RUNWAY - KEY WEST NAVAL AIR STATION - DAY

A CART speeds down the flight line past the waiting F8U-1P
Corsairs. One by one, the four pilots accompanying Ecker and
Wilhemy jump off to mount their planes. The cart still moving.

ECKER
Get that fuel assayed?

WILHEMY
Yeah. It sucks. Ain't for high
performance babies like ours. Shoulda
brought some from home, but what can
you do? Last-second deployments...

Wilhemy jumps off, then they're at Ecker's plane, and he
jumps off. Too late to worry about bad fuel now. He hoists
himself up and into the cockpit of the sleek navy jet.

INT. ECKER'S CRUSADER - DAY

As the canopy closes, Ecker powers up the engines, talks to
his flight over the Guard channel.

ECKER
Okay, time to play Spin the Bottle
with our bearded buddy. Nobody gets
out ahead. Remember, just sitting
here we're only ten minutes from
target.

EXT. RUNWAY - DAY

The Crusaders swing around in pairs at one end of the runway,
and then the first two throttle-up, flaps down, and drop
their brakes. The machines LUNGE forward like dueling drag
racers. The FILL THE SCREEN, blow past.

EXT. AERIAL - OVER KEY WEST - DAY

The six Crusaders, in pairs, streak over the buildings and
streets of Key West. And in a heartbeat, cross the beach and
are out to sea.

And already on the horizon, the low clouds and dark line of
land. Cuba. Ninety miles away.

INT. ECKER'S CRUSADER - DAY

The ocean shrieks past so close you can see the white foam.
Ecker checks the altimeter: 150 FEET.

A small fishing boat looms ahead, its net booms reaching up
like tree limbs. The Crusader rockets over it.

Ecker checks his instruments. OUT THE WINDOW, the other
Crusaders thunder over the water, past sailboats, cabin
cruisers, the small-craft traffic outside Key West. The speed
sucks the breath away.

ECKER
Go to military throttle on my mark.
Three... two... one... mark.

His airspeed indicator spins up to 400 knots. And then his
radio suddenly crackles:

PILOT #1 (O.S.)
Flameout flameout!

PILOT #2 (O.S.)
Shit! Me too!

ECKER
Get some altitude!

Two of the Crusaders pull up, away from the water.

PILOT #1 (O.S.)
Oh, God damn. Got it restarted.

PILOT #2 (O.S.)
Yeah. Yeah. Me too. Goddamn fuel.

PILOT #1 (O.S.)
Sir, I don't think she's gonna hold
up for the run.

ECKER
Affirmative. You two get out of here.

EXT. AERIAL - CRUSADERS - DAY

The two planes with bad fuel pull wingovers to their left,
head for the airfield in the distance. The four remaining
planes streak over the ocean. There are no more small craft
this far out in the strait.

INT. ECKER'S CRUSADER - DAY

Cuba, green and hazy, looms in the window. Ecker throws a
series of switches.

ECKER
Start your camera checks.

A mechanical WHINE accompanies the switch-throwing. Ecker
pulls the trigger on his joystick and a THUMP THUMP THUMP
hammers away. There are green lights across his boards.

One of the other pilots cuts in on the radio:

PILOT #3 (O.S.)
Failure. All cameras. Sonofabitch.
Film must not have fed.

PILOT #4 (O.S.)
Jesus! Shit! Oh shit! I just shot it
all, boss. Activator jammed open,
its exposing everything now.

WILHEMY (O.S.)
That's alright, Lenny, it happens to
most men at some time --

Ecker grimaces, but his voice stays cool.

ECKER
-- Scrub, you two. Get out of here.
Still with me, Bruce?

WILHEMY (O.S.)
That's affirm.

The two Crusaders who've failed their camera checks break
off. And now Cuba's hills, the Havana sky line are right in
front of them.

EXT. CUBAN BEACH - CONTINUOUS

The last two Crusaders streak over the surf, a white wake of
spray in their jetwash, and cross the beach with a boom.

EXT. AERIAL - CRUSADERS - CONTINUOUS

The planes dip and rise with the green tropical contours,
taking us on a sickening roller-coaster ride over Cuban
countryside at treetop level.

Palm forest, roads, can fields, more palm forest race by.
And then, ahead, a large clearing.

ECKER (O.S.)
Warm 'em up. We're here.

EXT. ANTI-AIRCRAFT BATTERY - CONTINUOUS

Cuban ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNNERS shout as they traverse their
40mm guns in their sandbagged emplacement. The low rippling
thunder of the incoming jets becomes an earsplitting ROAR...
and the Crusaders blast out over the clearing. The anti
aircraft guns open up.

INT. WILHEMY'S CRUSADER - CONTINUOUS

Wilhemy jinks left to avoid a streaking of TRACER FIRE.

WILHEMY
Holy shit!

INT. ECKER'S CRUSADER - CONTINUOUS

Tracers and flack pepper the air in front of Ecker's Crusader.
METAL PINGS, TINKS, RATTLES off the fuselage. Anti-aircraft
and small arms fire comes up from all over, hitting the planes
multiple times. He surveys the shapes in the target zone
dead ahead.

ECKER
Lights.

And sees the long, canvas-covered objects on the ground.
The missiles. They draw closer.

ECKER
Camera.

A steel fragment CRACKS his window, obscuring our view.

ECKER
Action.

And he thumbs the CAMERA SWITCH. All twelve B-system cameras
begin banging away like cannons.

EXT. AERIAL - CRUSADERS - DAY

TRACERS lace the air between the two planes as they blast
over the missile site. Over trailers. Over tents. Over trucks.
Over trenches. Over bulldozers.

And then they're out over forest again. It's all over in
seconds. The triple-A stops. In unison, the two planes bank
right, heading for the distant blue, blue sea.

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - DAY

Kenny paces by the phone. It rings. He picks up, listens,
reacts. Relief. And we know the planes have made it back.

EXT. RUNWAY - CECIL FIELD, FLA. - DAY

Ecker jumps down from the cockpit ladder and turns an eye to
his battered, pock-marked plane. Wilhemy and the GROUND CREW
CHIEF come running up, the Chief letting out a whistle.

GROUND CREW CHIEF
Lookit what daddy done brung home.

WILHEMY
You shoulda seen it, Chief, they --

ECKER
-- damn sparrows. Must've been
migrating. Guess I hit a couple
hundred.
(to Wilhemy, stern)
How many did you hit, Bruce?

Wilhemy stands there, looking at Ecker, not sure what to
make of him. The Crew Chief just starts laughing as more
impressed GROUND CREW come up.

WILHEMY
A few. I guess.

GROUND CREW CHIEF
Was them 20 or 40 million sparrows?

Ecker, sweat-plastered and foul, steps into the Chief's face.

ECKER
Those are bird strikes. Sparrows to
be precise. Got a problem with that?

The Chief stands there, glances at the plane one more time,
and shakes his head, 'No.' Ecker takes the Chief's maintenance
clipboard from him, writes in big bold marker: BIRD STRIKES.
He thrusts it back into the Chief's hands and walks off; the
astonished Wilhemy remains behind.

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - DAY

In Kenny's credenza, a small black and white T.V. plays.
WALTER CRONKITE narrates on the television as a train laden
with TANKS on flatbeds pulls out of a station.

WALTER CRONKITE (V.O.)
Massive military preparations are
underway throughout the southeast in
what Pentagon officials are confirming
is the largest mobilization since
Korea. The railways have been
nationalized to assist in the
deployment, here transporting elements
of the U.S. 1st Armored Division
from Ft. Hood, Texas.

A PHONE RINGS. Kenny turns from the T.V., turns down Walter
Cronkite, as he answers.

KENNY
Yeah?

INT. OAS MEETING ROOM - CONTINUOUS

George Ball stands at the back of a crowded room filled with
applauding OAS DELEGATES. It's for Rusk, at a podium up front.

BALL
Kenny. The vote just came down.

INT. OVAL OFFICE - DAY

Kenny opens his door, lets Rusk in. The President, Bobby and
half of EXCOM look up. Rusk stands there somber.

RUSK
Unanimous. One abstention.

And then he breaks into a huge grin. Everyone cheers him.

THE PRESIDENT
About time something went our way.

An Assistant enters behind Kenny. Kenny senses him, turns as
the others move to shake hands with Rusk.

ASSISTANT
Telephone, Mr. O'Donnell.

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - DAY

Kenny, grinning, ducks back into his office, closes the door
after the Assistant leaves. He picks up the phone.

KENNY
Hello?

INTERCUT CALL TO:

INT. READY ROOM - CECIL FIELD - DAY

Ecker stands at a phone, stares out a window at a replacement
plane being fueled. A Crusader, not his shot-up one.

ECKER
Mr. O'Donnell, I've been ordered to
deliver the film to the Pentagon
personally. What's going on?

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

Kenny thinks fast. Oh shit.

KENNY
The Chiefs must want to talk to you.
(beat)
Listen to me, Commander, they'll
want to know if you were fired on.
Were you?

ECKER (O.S.)
You could say that, sir.

KENNY
Commander. Do not, under any
circumstances, tell the Chiefs.

END INTERCUT:

INT. PENTAGON - DAY

SUPER: E-RING. Then SUPER: THE PENTAGON

Ecker, still in his sweat-drenched flight suit approaches a
security checkpoint. GUARDS secure his sidearm and user him
through a doorway. A sign over it reads JCS.

INT. THE TANK - DAY

The door swings open into the Joint Chiefs' SOUND-PROOFED
briefing room known as THE TANK. LeMay, Taylor and Anderson
sit there around the table. Ecker salutes.

ECKER
Commander William B. Ecker reporting
as ordered!

LeMay rises, prowls over to Ecker.

LEMAY
Son, I want to know just one thing.
Those bastards shoot so much as a BB
gun at you?

A long beat. Sweat runs off Ecker's head. He can smell LeMay's
breath.

ECKER
Sir, it was a milk run, sir.

INT. WEST WING HALL - NIGHT

Kenny joins the President and General Taylor in the hallway
as they head for the Oval Office.

GENERAL TAYLOR
It appears our low-level flights are
getting back okay. Some unconfirmed
reports of small-arms fire from some
of the missions, but that's it.

Slightly behind them, Kenny looks sidelong at Taylor.

THE PRESIDENT
Guess we can't blame Khruschev for a
few patriotic farmers. And the ships?

GENERAL TAYLOR
Still heading for Cuba.

THE PRESIDENT
All right. Then I guess it's time.

INT. OVAL OFFICE - NIGHT

FLASHBULBS go off all around the room as the President walks
in, goes over to his desk. Reporters observe silently, T.V.
cameras track him; Kenny, Bobby and Sorensen watch as the
President sits, takes a pen form his pocket.

THE PRESIDENT
In accordance with this afternoon's
vote at the OAS, the quarantine shall
hereby be effective as of ten o'clock
tomorrow morning.

Kenny observes in silence as the President SIGNS the
Proclamation of Interdiction.

INT. OVAL OFFICE - LATER

The Oval Office has emptied out. Only Kenny, Bobby, Sorensen
and the President remain. The President looks out the window,
Sorensen sits in a chair in front of the desk. Bobby and
Kenny sit on the edge of the desk.

THE PRESIDENT
Last summer I read a book. The Guns
of August. I wish every man on that
blockade line had read that book.

The President moves over to the GLOBE by his desk, spins it,
stopping in on Europe.

THE PRESIDENT
World War One. Thirteen million killed
all because the militaries of both
alliances were so highly attuned to
each other's movements and
dispositions, afraid of letting the
other guy have a theoretical
advantage. And your man in the field,
his family at home, couldn't even
tell you the reasons why their lives
were being sacrificed.
(beat)
Why couldn't they stop it?

Can we? The President's fingers turn the globe. It stops on
North America. Kenny and Bobby listen.

THE PRESIDENT
And here we are, fifty years later.
One of their ships resists the
inspection. We shoot out its rudder
and board. They shoot down our planes
in response. We bomb their anti-
aircraft sites in response to that.
They attack Berlin. We invade Cuba.
They fire their missiles. We fire
ours.

The President sets the globe gently spinning and walks away.

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - NIGHT

Kenny rubs his eyes, listens to his phone and the WOMAN'S
VOICE at the other end. It's his wife.

HELEN (O.S.)
When are you going to be home?

KENNY
I don't know, Helen. I want you to
keep the kids close tomorrow. Leave
the T.V. on, sleep with it on in the
bedroom until I tell you you can
turn it off.

HELEN (O.S.)
What's happened?

KENNY
Nothing. Nothing you don't know about.
Tomorrow's the big day. Just have
the car ready to go if I call or if
the Civil Defense Warning comes on.

HELEN (O.S.)
What happens to you? I'm not leaving
without you.

KENNY
I'll be evacuated with the President.

A long silence on the other end of the line.

HELEN (O.S.)
Great. So while you're under a rock
somewhere with the President, what
am I supposed to do with your five
children?

And to that, there is no answer. A beat, and it's all Kenny
can promise:

KENNY
I'll find you. But we're not going
to let it come to that. I promise.

INT. WHITE HOUSE CAFETERIA - NIGHT

Kenny hands Bobby and Bundy cups of coffee. The three men
nurse them in the silence of the abandoned cafeteria.

KENNY
Helen just asked me what sort of
arrangements we have for the families.

BUNDY
I just checked myself.
(beat)
They're being issued identity cards.
Call comes, and evacuation officers
meet them at pre-arranged departure
areas. They go by helicopter to Mount
Weather. We meet them there.

Bobby looks at his coffee, then up at Kenny. He gently shakes
his head. It's all a sham.

BOBBY
Course that's for morale. The missiles
only take five minutes to get here.

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - NIGHT

SUPER: WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 24TH. DAY 9.

Kenny bolts upright from his couch. He rubs his face, sits
on the edge in the dark for a beat. He's not going back to
sleep. He grabs his trousers.

INT. WEST WING HALLS - CONTINUOUS

Kenny makes his way through the dim, deserted halls. Somewhere
in the distance a phone rings. He reaches a door.

EXT. WHITE HOUSE - NIGHT

Kenny, bundled in an overcoat, steps outside the North
Entrance. The cool air invigorates him. He eyes the fence,
Pennsylvania Avenue beyond it, seeming to isolate this world
from the living city beyond. He starts for the main gate.

EXT. MAIN GATE - CONTINUOUS

A WHITE HOUSE POLICE OFFICER jumps up as Kenny approaches.

POLICE OFFICER
Would you like me to call a car, Mr.
O'Donnell.

Kenny checks his watch.

KENNY
How long will it take to get someone
up?

POLICE OFFICER
Fifteen minutes, maybe. To your house,
sir?

Kenny considers, shakes his head. He wants to go home, but...

KENNY
No. No, I'll let her sleep. Let 'em
sleep.

Kenny says it with a certain finality. The Police Officer
nods, and Kenny wanders out through the gates, shouldering
the weight of the world.

EXT. CITY STREETS - NIGHT

Kenny makes his way down a sidewalk not far from the White
House. A 24-hour drug store's doors are open. He pauses.

Inside, a knot of PEOPLE -- late-night deliverymen, a cop,
the store employees -- talk in undertones at the counter.
Behind it, a T.V. is signing off with the national anthem.
Sober voices, sober looks. Kenny moves on.

EXT. NEWS STAND - NIGHT

A cluster of COLLEGE STUDENTS talk at a news stand. They're
waiting for the NEWSIE to cut the bands of the next day's
Washington Post, the bundles just being thrown to the sidewalk
from the delivery truck. Kenny approaches.

In their thing beards, counter-culture clothes, the kids
seem so young, Kenny so old. Kenny buys a newspaper, its
dire headlines, every story about the crisis.

EXT. CATHOLIC CHURCH - NIGHT

Kenny, newspaper under his arm, continues down the street.
Up ahead, the lights are on in a Catholic Church. Lines of
CHURCHGOERS are at the door. Kenny stops, surprised at the
sight this late. And then he sees the hand-painted banner:
CONFESSIONS 24 HOURS. PRAY FOR PEACE.

Kenny is moved. He glances over his shoulder, and then...
joins the line himself.

INT. WHITE HOUSE - SITUATION ROOM - DAY

Kenny's WATCH reads one minute til ten o'clock. PULL BACK TO
REVEAL:

Kenny, standing just inside the open doors to the White House
Situation Room, a state-of-the-art conference room. A long,
central table surrounded by leather chairs with phones and
screens built in. T.V. monitors hang from the ceilings in
the corners. There are no windows, just oppressive bunker
like walls. It's far underground.

Across the room the President paces, phone in hand. Half of
EXCOM is in their seats. The other half, along with a steady
stream of DUTY OFFICERS, are coming and going. Kenny steps
aside for a Duty Officer, listens to the President.

THE PRESIDENT
Okay, Bob, I'm putting you on
intercom.

Suddenly, McNamara's VOICE fills the room.

MCNAMARA (O.S.)
Hey, guys, can you hear me?

SMASH CUT TO:

INT. FLAG PLOT - THE PENTAGON - DAY

McNamara stands, phone in hand.

MCNAMARA
I have one minute til ten here --

THE CAMERA TRACKS AROUND HIM, REVEALING:

A large, elaborate war room, like Mission Control. Big
screens, plexiglass tracking boards, tiered banks of
communications equipment. A massive LIGHT TABLE on the floor
at the center of the room projects a map of the Caribbean
and Atlantic. Arcing across it is a RED LINE: the blockade.

The map is covered with cryptic military notations; WATCH
OFFICERS on a platform which swings out over it update the
latest ship positions.

McNamara's in a booth overlooking the room. It's open to the
next tier below where Admiral Anderson is giving orders.

MCNAMARA
-- and no sign of them stopping.

INT. SITUATION ROOM - DAY

Kenny and Bobby move to the President's end of the table,
sit down across from each other in mirror-image fashion.
EXCOM looks to the President. The second hand of the clock
on the wall wheels past 12. A hush falls over the room.

THE PRESIDENT
Bob, the quarantine is now in effect.

INT. FLAG PLOT - DAY

McNamara is mute for a beat. He turns to view the big room.

MCNAMARA
Then it looks like our first customers
are the Gagarin and Kimovsk.

He nods to Admiral Anderson, who calls an order down to a
Watch Officer on the floor, and on screens all around the
room, a sector of the map MAGNIFIES the unfolding encounter --

EXT. BRIDGE WING - U.S.S. PIERCE - DAY

-- between the destroyer, U.S.S. Pierce and the SOVIET
FREIGHTERS Gagarin and Kimovsk. The Pierce's bridge wings
are crammed with helmeted OFFICERS and LOOKOUTS. They peer
through binoculars at the distant ships, plowing ahead,
straight for them. The CAPTAIN lowers his binoculars,
determined.

CAPTAIN
Helm, shape heading for intercept,
zero one zero. All ahead full --

OFFICER (O.S.)
-- new contact! New contact!

Everyone whirls to the bridge. The Captain steps forward.

INT. COMBAT INFORMATION CENTER - U.S.S. PIERCE - DAY

The Captain ducks into the CIC. The CHIEF SONARAN reports.

CHIEF SONARMAN
Submerged contact, designation Sierra
one at 6000 yards bearing 030.

CAPTAIN
A submarine...

INT. SITUATION ROOM - DAY

The President reacts. Kenny and Bobby react.

GENERAL TAYLOR
It's protecting the freighters.

Consternation. The President picks up the phone.

THE PRESIDENT
Bob, is there any way we can avoid
stopping a submarine first?

MCNAMARA (O.S.)
I'm afraid not, Mr. President. The
sub has positioned itself between
the Pierce and the Soviet ships.
Admiral Anderson insists it's too
much of a risk to proceed with
stopping the freighters. The Pierce
would be a sitting duck for the sub.

All around the room frustration. Bobby shakes his head. Kenny
sinks back in his chair. The President hesitates.

THE PRESIDENT
Put me through to the Pierce.

INT. FLAG PLOT - DAY

Admiral Anderson nods to a COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER. The man
makes the connection on a switchboard.

McNamara casts an eye to the map. The two red MARKERS labeled
Gagarin and Kimovsk are joined by a third: the SUB. They are
ALMOST TOUCHING the blockade line. On the other side, the
single blue marker for the Pierce.

INT. BRIDGE - U.S.S. PIERCE - DAY

The Captain enters the bridge, takes the phone from the arm
of his chair.

CAPTAIN
Mr. President?

INT. SITUATION ROOM - CONTINUOUS

The President holds the phone, agonized.

THE PRESIDENT
Captain, can you force that submarine
to the surface for inspection without
damaging it yourself?

INT. BRIDGE, U.S.S. PIERCE - DAY

CAPTAIN
I can bring it up, Mr. President.
But whether it's damaged or not is
up to the sub.

INT. SITUATION ROOM - CONTINUOUS

The President lowers the phone, looks to Bobby and Kenny.

MCCONE
Even if they force it up, that sub
will be inspected over the crews'
dead bodies. They'd be executed for
allowing it when they got home.

All eyes are on the President. His eyes are closed tight,
face gray, hand over his mouth. The time of decision is at
hand. He lifts the phone once again.

THE PRESIDENT
Captain, force the sub to the surface
for inspection.

MCNAMARA (O.S.)
Mr. President! We're receiving reports
that the ships are stopping!

THE PRESIDENT
(to phone)
Captain, belay that order!
(to McNamara)
Bob, where's that coming from!

MCNAMARA (O.S.)
Just a second, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT
Will somebody find out what's going
on?!

McCone jumps up, leaves the room. The President looks at
Kenny, tense. Everyone holds their breath.

RUSK
Are they stopping?

The HISS of static on the open line fills the room. Silence.

EXT. BRIDGE - U.S.S. JOHN R. PIERCE - CONTINUOUS

Lookouts peer across the water at the oncoming Soviet
Freighter.

BINOCULAR POV:

Of the Soviet Bridge, where their LOOKOUTS are staring right
back through their binoculars.

INT. SITUATION ROOM - DAY

The HISS of static. And then.

MCNAMARA (O.S.)
Mr. President?

INT. FLAG PLOT - THE PENTAGON - CONTINUOUS

McNamara is grinning wildly at the chaos unfolding in the
flag plot below. Phones are ringing everywhere.

ON THE LIGHT TABLE

The Watch Officers' hands fly from one notation to the other,
circling the Soviet ships, marking them DEAD IN THE WATER.

MCNAMARA
-- we've got reports coming from all
over! The ships are stopping! Some...
are turning around!

INT. SITUATION ROOM - CONTINUOUS

The room EXPLODES, victorious. Kenny and Bobby break into
big grins, grab each other. Kenny pumps the President's hand.
Rusk and Bundy slap each other on the back.

RUSK
We were eyeball to eyeball and I
think the other fellow just blinked.

The ruckus goes on for a minute. McCone comes back in.

MCCONE
Mr. President.

His voice is lost in the celebration. McCone calls out:

MCCONE
Mr. President!

The hubub dies away.

MCCONE
Sir, we have the tally from NSA. We
have twenty ships stopping and or
turning around. Six, however, appear
to be continuing for the line.
Including the Gagarin and Kimovsk.

The elation goes out of the room. Kenny looks at the
President. The President picks up the phone again.

THE PRESIDENT
Captain, have the ships you're
observing changed course?

CAPTAIN (O.S.)
No, Mr. President. They've just
crossed the quarantine line.

Bobby grips the edge of the table, immediately believing.

BOBBY
It's an accident. They must not have
gotten their orders yet. Let 'em go.

GENERAL TAYLOR
Unlikely, Mr. President. We've been
monitoring transmissions from both
the Gagarin and Kimovsk. Their radios
are working fine.

MCCONE
One ship, an accident maybe. Six:
this is intentional.

The President looks to Bobby. He has no answer. Kenny's mind
races over the variables, and he leans forward, intense,
suddenly understanding in a flash of insight:

KENNY
They're right. This is intentional.

He glances around the room. All of EXCOM is looking at him.
Bobby stares at Kenny, too shocked to feel betrayed.

KENNY
Khruschev's stopped the 20 ships
which are carrying contraband, and
he's letting the ones which aren't
go through, hoping for an incident.
I think we should let them go.

Bobby relaxes. Around the table there are nods.

MCCONE
If we do, it erodes the credibility
of the quarantine. He'll just send
more through tomorrow.

The President looks at Kenny.

KENNY
Then we deal with it tomorrow. But
today he's stopped most of them.
He's done something smart here. We
gave him an ultimatum, and he's agreed
to most of it, preserving just enough
room to save face. We need to do
something just as smart now.

Bobby's nodding, following the argument. Kenny looks around
the room for support.

INT. FLAG PLOT - THE PENTAGON - CONTINUOUS

McNamara, pacing on the phone, jumps in.

MCNAMARA
Mr. President, I agree. Let them go.
Four of the six continuing ships are
still a day away from the line.
They've stopped all the ones we
suspect have weapons aboard. It would
look bad shooting up a freighter
full of baby food.

INT. SITUATION ROOM - CONTINUOUS

The President holds Kenny's gaze, then lifts the phone.

THE PRESIDENT
Captain, I want you to maintain
contact with those ships. Do nothing
until I order otherwise. Is that
clear?

CAPTAIN (O.S.)
Yes, Mr. President. Contact only.

He hangs up, turns to Kenny.

THE PRESIDENT
I hope you're right.

EXT. SOUTH LAWN - DAY

Kenny, Bobby and the President make their way across the
lawn, out of earshot of the building.

BOBBY
What happened to speak when spoken
to?

KENNY
Give it a rest. You were thinking
the same thing, just didn't have the
guts to take the heat.

Bobby likes getting under Kenny's skin. Bobby aims a punch
at his head which Kenny knocks away. The President changes
gear, serious.

THE PRESIDENT
We can horsetrade with Khruschev on
ships. But it doesn't get us any
closer to removing those missiles.

KENNY
Have to hope it's a signal that he'll
back down on the real issue too.

BOBBY
We're going to have to stop a ship
eventually, show the quarantine's
got teeth, or we'll prove McCone
right.

THE PRESIDENT
McNamara's on his way back here now.
We need to pick the right ship. No
subs. No armed boarding parties
either. We need a little more time
to figure this one out.

KENNY
Then let's move the quarantine line.

It's a simple suggestion. The President considers him a beat,
and then McNamara emerges from the White House, heads for
them. The three friends assume their more reserved, political
faces as he comes up.

MCNAMARA
Mr. President. Bobby. Kenny. The
Essex battle group has the Gagarin,
Kimovsk and the sub escort under
their thumb. We've got a few hours
now before we need to worry about
any more flashpoints on the line.
(beat)
We could use a few more hours. I
think we should consider moving the
quarantine line back to 500 miles.

Bobby and the President look at Kenny like he's some kind of
Svengali. Kenny just stands there, poker faced.

INT. WEST WING - DAY

Kenny and McNamara enter the White House from the South Lawn.
They stride down the hall, side by side.

KENNY
Moving the line. Stroke of genius.

MCNAMARA
(snappish)
Of course it is. But the President
needs to realize we're going to have
to stop a ship eventually.

They turn a corner, silence for a beat.

KENNY
The Chiefs are looking for a
provocation out there. The President's
going to come under enormous pressure.
You have to keep 'em on a short leash,
Bob.

McNamara spares Kenny a short, nasty look.

MCNAMARA
You must think I'm blind and stupid.
I've already gotten the birds and
bees from Bobby. The President doesn't
have to double-barrel me.

KENNY
Listen to me, goddamn it. We're
talking about a possible nuclear
war. You dropped the ball on Bay of
Pigs --

MCNAMARA
-- you sonofabitch, goddamn it, I
didn't drop --

KENNY
You were in the room. It was your
purview. It was your job to make
sure Bissel wasn't fucking us over
and you didn't do it. You've got the
most important job in the world right
now. You're the smartest guy the
President has.
(beat)
Besides me.

That gets an amused snort from McNamara, breaking the tension.

MCNAMARA
Anybody ever tell you you're an
egomaniac and a prick, O'Donnell?

Kenny stares him in the eye, serious, hushed. A friend.

KENNY
You need to be the best you've ever
been.

McNamara enters the elevator. He turns, stands there facing
Kenny for a dramatic beat. Then the doors close.

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - DAY

WALTER CRONKITE, on the B&W T.V. screen, sits in front of a
map showing Cuba and the blockade line.

WALTER CRONKITE (V.O.)
-- well, it appears the world has
just received a reprieve. Defense
Secretary Robert McNamara has
announced that the quarantine zone
has been moved from 800 to 500 miles.

PULL BACK, REVEALING:

Kenny watching the T.V., is yelling at the phone.

KENNY
Find out how close our exercises are
coming to their cruise missiles. I'm
calling you back in five, and you
will have an answer for me or I will
come down there and beat the shit
out of you.
(beat)
Then you can press charges, and I'll
get a Presidential pardon.

He hangs up, hears SHOUTING from the Oval Office. He goes to
the door, enters --

INT. OVAL OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

-- and sees the President leaning over his desk, jabbing his
finger at General Taylor.

THE PRESIDENT
-- how the goddamn hell did this
happen? I'm going to have Power's
head on a platter next to LeMay's!
(noticing Kenny)
Hey, Kenny, did you hear me give the
order to go to DEFCON 2? I remember
giving the order to go to DEFCON 3,
but I must be suffering from amnesia
because I've just been informed our
nuclear forces are DEFCON 2!

Kenny realizes he's not joking as he spots Bobby sitting on
the couch behind Taylor, pale as a ghost. Taylor, embattled,
wants to die, but stands there like a man.

SMASH CUT TO:

INT. MISSILE SILO - DAY

CLOSE ON

The nose cone of a TITAN MISSILE, its 20 megaton nuclear
warhead wrapped in the steel re-entry shell. Cold, silent,
fearsome.

GENERAL TAYLOR (V.O.)
Mr. President, the orders were limited
to our strategic forces in the
continental U.S.

INT. OVAL OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

Taylor continues on.

GENERAL TAYLOR
Technically, General LeMay is correct
that SAC has the statutory authority --

The President punches his desk.

THE PRESIDENT
-- I have the authority. I am the
commander-in-chief of the United
States, and I say when we go to war!

GENERAL TAYLOR
We are not at war, sir, not until
we're at DEFCON 1.

THE PRESIDENT
General, the Joint Chiefs have just
signaled our intent to escalate to
the Soviets. You have signaled an
escalation which I had no wish to
signal, and which I did not approve.

But Taylor knows this very well. And the way he's suffering,
it's clear he's taking the heat for his underlings. From
over on the couch Bobby chimes in:

BOBBY
LeMay... he's history.

The President glances at Kenny who stands there, speechless.

THE PRESIDENT
Get out of here, Max.

The General leaves. Kenny closes the door, wanders deeper
into the office. He looks from the President to Bobby. There's
a long, long beat of shocked silence.

KENNY
Jesus...

BOBBY
Rescind the order. Can all the Chiefs.
Put Nitze, Gilpatric and the
Undersecretaries in charge.

KENNY
We can't do that, Bobby.

THE PRESIDENT
He's right, we can't rescind DEFCON
2. The Soviets will think we've gotten
sweet on them.

KENNY
And we can't purge the Chiefs. Our
invasion talk will look like a bluff.
Or even that there's been an attempted
coup.

Bobby is disgusted, but knows they're right.

BOBBY
McNamara won't be able to handle
them. It's too much for one man...
(knowing look to Kenny)
...with all due respect to our heroic
fifth column.

The President collapses in his rocking chair. Kenny leans
over the back of the sofa next to Bobby.

KENNY
We've got Khruschev's attention with
the blockade. If we want a political
solution. I think it's time to turn
up the diplomatic heat. Cause if we
let this go on too long, we're going
to find ourselves in a war.

Bobby looks at the President, meaningful. The President turns
to Kenny.

THE PRESIDENT
I've been considering a variation on
one of Stevenson's ideas. We're going
to send up a trial balloon through
Lippman. The Jupiter missiles.

EXT. WEST WING DRIVEWAY - DAY

SUPER: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 25TH. DAY 10.

The West Wing looms behind Kenny and Bundy. Kenny, poker
faced, takes a drag on his cigarette. Bundy nervously flicks
his, looks away from Kenny a beat.

BUNDY
What did you think of Lippman's column
this morning?

KENNY
I think it's a bad idea.

Bundy turns back to him.

BUNDY
Thank God. Look, everyone is furious
about it. We trade away our missiles
in Turkey and we're fucked
politically.

Kenny grinds his jaw, but doesn't say anything. He agrees.
Bundy steps up to him, confiding.

BUNDY
You gotta stop 'em. We know it's
Jack and Bobby's idea -- they leaked
it to Lippman. The military guys are
going ape, and they're not alone.

KENNY
Then they should speak up.

BUNDY
Christ, Ken, you know it's not that
easy.

KENNY
Yes it is.

BUNDY
No it isn't. They don't trust the
people that feel this way. But these
people are right. And the Kennedys
are wrong.
(beat)
We need you to tell 'em, Kenny.
They'll listen to you.

Kenny prickles, intense, but Bundy presses on, too wrapped
up in his own thinking to notice.

BUNDY
Jack and Bobby are good men. But it
takes a certain character, moral
toughness to stand up to --

KENNY
-- You listen to me. Nobody, nobody,
talks about my friends that way.
You're fucking here right now because
of the Kennedys. They may be wrong.
They make mistakes. But they're not
weak. The weak ones are these 'people'
who can't speak their own minds.

BUNDY
You know I don't mean they're weak.

Kenny gets in his face, intimidating.

KENNY
No, they just lack 'moral toughness.'
And you think I'll play your Judas.
You WASPS and blue-bloods never
understood us, thinking we want into
your club. Well we got our own club
now.
(beat)
And you guys don't realize fighting
with each other is our way. Nobody
plays us off each other. And nobody
ever gets between us...

INT. PRESIDENT'S BEDROOM - DAY

Kenny throws himself on a chair in the bedroom's sitting
area, newspaper in hand. The President, buttoning his shirt
in a full-length mirror, sees him. There's a TV on. The
President selects a tie from a nearby rack, eyes the paper.

THE PRESIDENT
What's that?

KENNY
Oh, just a bunch of crap about
withdrawing our Jupiter missiles in
Turkey if the Soviets'll do the same
in Cuba.

The President's eyes flick over to him in the mirror.

THE PRESIDENT
I don't want to listen to this again.

KENNY
If we made a trade, we'd be giving
in to extortion, and NATO would never
trust us again. We'll get clobbered
in world opinion.

THE PRESIDENT
It's a goddman trial balloon. Trial
is the operative word, here.

KENNY
Then somebody'd better deny it
publicly.

The President turns around, heads over to the T.V. Kenny
folds his arms, disgusted.

THE PRESIDENT
Jesus Christ, O'Donnell, you're the
one saying we need to move forward
on a political solution.

KENNY
Yeah, a good political solution.

ON THE T.V.

Live coverage of the United Nations Security Council meetings.
Holding forth in Russian is VALERIAN ZORIN, 50s, tough,
likeable, the Soviet Ambassador to the U.N. and chairman of
the Security Council. A translator relays the meaning.

TRANSLATOR FOR ZORIN (O.S.)
We call on the world to condemn the
piratical actions of America...

RESUME

The President's jaw tightens. He turns to Kenny.

THE PRESIDENT
You want to turn up the heat? You
call Adlai. Tell him to stick it to
Zorin.

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - DAY

Kenny, phone to his ear, suffers as Bobby harangues him.

BOBBY
Adlai's too weak! We have to convince
Jack to pull him, get McCloy in there.

KENNY
You can't take him out this late in
the game.

BOBBY
Zorin will eat him alive!

KENNY
Then talk to your brother, goddamn
it. The two of you don't need any
advice to get into trouble.

BOBBY
What's gotten into you?

Kenny throws the Lippman article at him.

BOBBY
Oh, still sore about this.

KENNY
Something your father would've come
up with.

Silence. Terrible silence. That paralyzes Bobby. Kenny stares
at him. He means it, but regrets it, too.

BOBBY
My father --

KENNY
-- I'm just trying to make a point.
This idea is that fucking bad.

But Bobby gets it. Kenny shifts gears, lets it go.

KENNY
Adlai can handle Zorin. He knows the
inning and the score.

BOBBY
He better. Because nobody thinks
he's up to this. Nobody.

INT. U.S. OFFICES - U.N. - DAY

The U.S. suite is in frantic preparation, STAFFERS coming
and going. Stevenson takes his phone from a SECRETARY.

ADLAI
Yes?

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

Kenny turns to gaze at his little T.V. in the credenza, U.N.
coverage continuing, as if he could see Adlai there.

KENNY
Adlai, it's Kenny. How're you doing?

INT. U.S. OFFICES - U.N. - CONTINUOUS

Adlai is packing up his briefcase.

ADLAI
Busy, Ken. What do you need?

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

Kenny rises from his chair, paces toward the T.V. He pauses.

KENNY
The President told me to pass the
word to you: stick it to them.

INT. U.S. OFFICES - U.N. - CONTINUOUS

Adlai looks around to his own T.V., showing the session going
on downstairs. Zorin, ON CAMERA, dominates the council:
alternately bold, aggressive, and then reasonable. Even in
Russian, with the lagging translation, he's formidable.

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

Kenny is watching exactly the same performance. Zorin is
masterful. Kenny knows it. And when he talks to Adlai, it's
with the fatalism of a coach knowing he's putting his third
string quarterback in against the all-Pro linebacker.

KENNY
Adlai. The world has to know we're
right. If we're going to have a chance
at a political solution, we need
international pressure. You got to
be tough, Adlai. You need to find
it, old friend.

INT. U.S. OFFICES - U.N. - CONTINUOUS

Adlai watches his Staffers leave his inner office. He hears
Kenny, and everything Kenny is saying.

ADLAI
I hear you. I'm glad it's you calling.
I thought it would be Bobby. If
they're still sticking to their
stonewall strategy, I'll get 'em.
(beat)
Thanks, Ken.

Adlai lowers the phone to its cradle. An ANXIOUS STAFFER
sticks his head in the door, a concerned, questioning look
on his face.

Adlai adjusts his tie. HIS HAND IS SHAKING. He notices it,
and manages a brave smile.

ADLAI
I'm an old political cat, Jimmy.
(beat)
But I've got one life left.

INT. HALL, U.N. - CONTINUOUS

Adlai, briefcase in hand, marches down the hall at the hand
of his team: Staffers and Photo Interpreters with large
leather portfolio bags. The big double doors to the council
chamber loom, and he gestures to the Photo Interpreters.

ADLAI
Wait here.

And then a DOORMAN throws open the door for him.

INT. U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS - CONTINUOUS

Adlai enters. He is instantly dwarfed by the enormous room.
Lights, T.V. cameras, the imposing circular arrangement of
delegation tables. And the entire world is watching.

Adlai pauses. Then as the first SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBERS
begin to notice him, he heads for the vacant seats for the
American delegation. The ROMANIAN DELEGATE saws the air.

ROMANIAN DELEGATE
(through translator)
...we call upon the world to condemn
this purely American provocation...

But as the Romanian wheezes on, all eyes are on Adlai. Adlai
takes his seat, his Staffers behind him. They pass him up
papers, and he spreads them before him, taking no notice
that the entire room is staring at him.

Adlai finally glances up. Across the circle sits Zorin, in
the flesh, at the head of his own tough-looking DELEGATION.
He acknowledges Adlai with a superior smile.

ROMANIAN DELEGATE
We, the people of Romania, stand in
solidarity with the people of Cuba
and their revolution in the face of
this American threat to world peace.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Romanian Delegate leans back from his microphone. Zorin
leans forward, begins in Russian, and the Translator's voice
catches up with him. His tone, body language, composure are
all that of complete confidence.

ZORIN
(through translator)
We are glad you could join us, Mr.
Stevenson.

Adlai nods, returns to his notes, as Zorin continues.

ZORIN
For the last couple of hours I have
heard nothing but questions from the
world here. The United States has
led us to the brink of calamity. The
peoples of the world want to know
why. We are told again and again of
this so called incontrovertible
evidence of offensive weapons in
Cuba. Yet we are not allowed to see
this evidence. Are your spy planes
so secret you cannot share this
evidence with us? Some planes?!

The audience laughs. Zorin basks in it. And then grows stern.

ZORIN
Or perhaps there is no such evidence.
Perhaps the United States is mistaken.

INT. SITUATION ROOM - WHITE HOUSE - CONTINUOUS

EXCOM watches the coverage on the situation room's T.V.'s.
The President and Bobby sit side by side, Kenny just behind
them. Bobby checks his watch, looks at the President.

BOBBY
I make the call, and Adlai is out.
McCloy goes in.

Bobby looks back at Kenny.

THE PRESIDENT
Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

INT. U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS - CONTINUOUS

Zorin stares at Adlai. Adlai studiously ignores him, works
on his own papers.

ZORIN
The United States has no facts in
hand. Falsity is what America has in
its hands -- false evidence.

Zorin leans back in his chair. Adlai finally looks up. He
meets Zorin's icy bravura. He notes the cameras around the
room. This is the grandest stage of all.

ZORIN
The chair recognizes the
representative from the United States.

And in that moment, Adlai becomes the spokesman for America.

ADLAI
Well, let me say something to you,
Mr. Ambassador, we do have the
evidence. We have it, and it is clear
and incontrovertible.

Adlai's tone is definitive. A tremor of interest passes
through the various delegations.

ADLAI
And let me say something else. Those
weapons must be taken out of Cuba.
You, the Soviet Union, have created
this new danger, not the United
States.

INT. SITUATION ROOM - CONTINUOUS

EXCOM is transfixed by the continuing debate.

BUNDY
Come on, Adlai!

They all crowd the T.V. as if it were a title fight. Except
for Bobby. Kenny glances over at him. He has the phone pinned
between his ear and shoulder. Kenny looks back to the T.V.

INT. U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS - CONTINUOUS

Adlai fixes Zorin in his seat, his voice rising.

ADLAI
Mr. Zorin, I remind you that the
other day you did not deny the
existence of these weapons. But today,
again, if I heard you correctly, you
now say they do not exist.

Zorin, headphones on, listens to his own translation, but
doesn't respond, acts bored. It gets Adlai's goat, and he
begins to lose his cool. A rumble from the U.N. The CAMERA
FINDS Adlai's hand SHAKING, gripping his pen.

INT. SITUATION ROOM - WHITE HOUSE - DAY

EXCOM is worried.

RUSK
Come on, Adlai, don't let him off!

BOBBY
John? It's Bobby. Get ready to send
your staffer in. He's going to be
coming out.

INT. U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS - CONTINUOUS

But Adlai's tremors are not tremors of fear. They are tremors
of anger. His voice goes hard and cold.

ADLAI
All right, sir. Let me ask you one
simple question. Do you, Ambassador
Zorin, deny that the U.S.S.R. has
placed and is placing medium and
intermediate range missiles and sites
in Cuba? Yes or no -- don't wait for
the translation -- yes or no?

The diplomatic world GASPS as Adlai drops all pretense of
civility, all statesman-like grace.

INT. SITUATION ROOM - CONTINUOUS

EXCOM's excitement mounts. In the chorus urging Adlai on, we
find Kenny edge toward the screen.

KENNY
Yeah. Yeah.

INT. U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS - CONTINUOUS

Zorin shoots Adlai a testy look.

ZORIN
I am not in an American courtroom,
sir, and therefore I do not wish to
answer a question that is put to me
in the fashion in which a prosecutor
puts questions. In due course, sir,
you will have your answer.

There's laughter at Zorin's refusal to be bullied: but it's
nervous laughter, not the polite stuff of diplomatic tete-a
tete. The RUMBLE in the room grows louder.

ADLAI
You are in the courtroom of world
opinion right now, and you can answer
yes or no. You have denied they exist,
and I want to know if I have
understood you correctly.

INT. SITUATION ROOM - DAY

EXCOM ROARS! Fists in the air! Bobby lets the phone dangle a
beat, covers it. And then he lifts it again.

BOBBY
John, I'll get back to you.

He lowers the phone to the receiver. Kenny shoots him a
triumphant smile. The President looks at Kenny, shakes his
head, a big smile on his face.

INT. U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS - CONTINUOUS

Adlai presses on.

ADLAI
And I'm prepared to present the
evidence in this room, proving that
the Soviet Union has lied to the
world.

And Zorin cracks. He looks uneasily to his delegation. They
bend forward to consult. Adlai sits back in his chair, draping
his arms over its wings with the confidence of someone who
knows he's kicked ass.

Adlai looks around the room while he's waiting for his answer,
managing not to smile. The diplomatic world is scandalized.
At last Zorin regroups, lifts his head from his huddle.

ZORIN
If you do not choose to continue
your statement, the Chair recognizes
the representative from Chile.

The CHILEAN DELEGATE stands.

CHILEAN DELEGATE
I yield my time and the floor to the
representative to the United States.

The room explodes in laughter. Not just nervous any more,
not just polite. They're laughing at Zorin's parliamentary
ploy blowing up in his face. Zorin's smile is gone, his smooth
facade destroyed. And he looks like the biggest fool in the
world.

Adlai stares at the beet-faced man with disdain. At last,
Adlai stands, gestures to the door to the hall behind him.

The PHOTO INTERPRETERS come racing in with their briefing
boards.

ADLAI
Well then, ladies and gentlemen,
since it appears we might be here
for a while, shall we have a look at
what the Soviets are doing in Cuba?

The Delegates RUMBLE in interest, rise from their seats to
approach Adlai.

INT. SITUATION ROOM - CONTINUOUS

EXCOM celebrates. Phones ring at several of the chairs at
the conference table. The President and Kenny meet as Bundy
picks up a phone in the b.g.

THE PRESIDENT
Didn't know Adlai had it in him. Too
bad he didn't have this stuff in
'52.

KENNY
Zorin must not have gotten
instructions. Somebody in their
Foreign Ministry's blown it big-time.

Bundy steps forward, holding the phone.

BUNDY
Mr. President...

Kenny and the President turn to see what they already have
heard in those two words: concern. The room falls quiet.

INT. FLAG PLOT - THE PENTAGON - CONTINUOUS

Phone in hand, McNamara paces at his post over the flag plot.

MCNAMARA
...the ship is called Groznyy.

EXT. OCEAN, PUERTO RICO TRENCH - CONTINUOUS

The Soviet Tanker, Groznyy, breasts the heavy seas. Armed
CREWMEN race along the deck to makeshift sandbagged
emplacements in the bow.

MCNAMARA (V.O.)
We lost track of it yesterday at
nightfall. We thought we gave it
plenty of room when we moved the
quarantine line back. We just
reacquired it.

The CAMERA PANS to the left, revealing a U.S. DESTROYER racing
up alongside a few hundred yards away, pounding up and over
the swells, punching up a huge fan of spray from its bow.

INT. FLAG PLOT - THE PENTAGON - CONTINUOUS

MCNAMARA
It crossed the line hours ago.

Admiral Anderson, on the phone on the level below, is tense.

ADMIRAL ANDERSON
Hail them again.

THE PRESIDENT (O.S.)
Keep us posted, Bob.

McNamara leans against the wall, closes his eyes in exhaustion
and stress. And when he opens the, we PAN AROUND TO REVEAL:

A God-like view of the flag plot, covered with HUNDREDS OF
SHIPS, PLANES AND MARKINGS.

McNamara stares out at the bewildering tangle of symbols,
living men behind each one. Each tangle of red and blue
symbols a powderkeg. A Godlike view indeed. And it is far
more than any one mere man could keep control of. And he
begins to realize it.

MCNAMARA
We're kidding ourselves...

And not only that, in his bleary, sleep-deprived fog, he
begins to understand something happening down there.

The CAMERA MOVES over the enormous map, over the scrolling
cryptic numerology. THE BUZZ of radio communications bleeds
in from the background. The overhead platform swivels on its
motor, like the vast arm of some fate-writing god as the
Watch Officer on it updates the movements of the ships.

McNamara stares, at the verge of grasping something. Through
the door-crack of genius, he has the glimpse of some grander
thing, some grander design.

ADMIRAL ANDERSON
Very well. Load your guns.

That starts McNamara from his fatigued reverie. He goes to
the railing, looks down on Anderson.

MCNAMARA
What was that, Admiral?

Anderson turns, gazes up from his tier below, distracted.

ADMIRAL ANDERSON
We've been hailing the Groznyy for
the last hour, Mr. Secretary. The
Groznyy refuses to stop.

MCNAMARA
What are you doing?

ADMIRAL ANDERSON
Carrying out our mission, Mr.
Secretary. If you don't mind, we're
very busy right now. We need to be
able to do our jobs.

MCNAMARA
Admiral, I asked you a question.

Anderson holds the phone aside, turns around again, looks up
at him, impatient. His answer is hard, cold, dangerous.

ADMIRAL ANDERSON
We're going to follow the Rules of
Engagement. The Rules of Engagement
which the President has approved and
signed in his order of October 23rd.

Anderson listens again to the phone.

ADMIRAL ANDERSON
Yes, Captain, you may proceed. Clear
your guns.

MCNAMARA
What --

EXT. OCEAN, PUERTO RICO TRENCH - CONTINUOUS

The Destroyer's forward 5-inch twin guns swivel, train on
the Groznyy. A beat. They OPEN FIRE with an ear-splitting
BAMBAM, ripping the air in front of the muzzles, the Groznyy
so close a miss isn't possible.

INT. FLAG PLOT - THE PENTAGON - CONTINUOUS

McNamara SHOUTS at Anderson, dropping down the steps to
Anderson's level.

MCNAMARA
GODDAMNIT, STOP THAT FIRING!

Watch Officers scramble to comply, chaos and shouting in the
war room as a chorus if "Cease fire cease fire cease fire,"
goes up. McNamara turns on Anderson, is in his face.

MCNAMARA
Jesus Christ, God help us.

Anderson smashes the phone down, wheels on McNamara, furious.

EXT. OCEAN, PUERTO RICO TRENCH - CONTINUOUS

The Destroyer's guns hammer away at the Groznyy, at point
blank range... but the Groznyy IS UNHARMED.

Suddenly, in the air above it appear BRILLIANT FLARES. They
light up the ship, brighter than the sun. The destroyer isn't
firing deadly rounds... it's firing harmless starshells.

INT. FLAG PLOT - THE PENTAGON - CONTINUOUS

Anderson gets in McNamara's face.

ADMIRAL ANDERSON
That ship was firing starshells.
Starshells. Flares, Mr. Secretary.

Everyone's eyes are on the two men. Only the chatter of
teletype breaks the paralyzing silence. McNamara blinks,
looks down at the plot on the floor. Anderson's voice drops
to a deadly sotto.

ADMIRAL ANDERSON
Goddammitt, I've got a job to do.
You've been camped out up there since
Monday night. You're exhausted and
you're making mistakes. Interfere
with me, you will get some of killed.
I will not allow that.

McNamara looks away at the faces of the men in the room.

MCNAMARA
Starshells.

ADMIRAL ANDERSON
Get out of our way, Mr. Secretary.
The navy has been running blockades
since the days of John Paul Jones.

McNamara turns back. And all trepidation, embarrassment,
hesitation are gone. He coldly appraises Anderson.

MCNAMARA
I believe the President made it clear
that there would be no firing on
ships without his express permission.

ADMIRAL ANDERSON
With all due respect, Mr. Secretary,
we were not firing on the ship. Firing
on a ship means attacking the ship.
We were not attacking the ship. We
were firing over it.

MCNAMARA
This was not the President's intention
when he gave that order. What if the
Soviets don't see the distention?
What if they make the same mistake I
just did?
(beat)
There will be no firing anything
near ANY Soviet ships without my
express permission, is that
understood, Admiral?

ADMIRAL ANDERSON
Yes, sir.

MCNAMARA
And I will only issue such
instructions when ordered to by the
President.
(beat)
John Paul Jones... you don't
understand a thing, do you, Admiral?

He passes his hand over the enormous plot below.

MCNAMARA
This isn't a blockade.

McNamara, trembling with anger, awe, whirls to Anderson.
And his burgeoning insight is born -- clear, hard and cold.

MCNAMARA
This, all this, is language, a new
vocabulary the likes of which the
world has never seen. This is
President Kennedy communicating with
Secretary Khruschev.

McNamara JABS HIS FINGER OUT AT the plot, and --

-- the CAMERA RACES DOWN, TRACKING OVER IT, across the vast
ebb and flow of information, the delicate ballet of symbols
and numerology, this language of steel and human life.

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - DAY

SUPER: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26TH. DAY 11.

On Kenny's T.V. Walter Cronkite reads the news to footage of
a BOARDING PARTY going up a ladder to the freighter MARCULA.

WALTER CRONKITE (V.O.)
At 7:29 this morning, the U.S.S.
Joseph Kennedy stopped and boarded
the Soviet charter vessel Marcula.

The Boarding Party wears dress whites and is UNARMED.

WALTER CRONKITE
After a 3-hour inspection, the Kennedy
signaled no contraband found. Cleared
to continue. Pentagon spokesmen expect
the next encounter.

Kenny, who turns from the T.V. as the door to his office
opens. Rusk walks in.

RUSK
Kenny, we need to see the President.
Something's happened.

Kenny reacts to Rusk's enigmatic expression. And out from
behind Rusk steps JOHN SCALI, the ABC News Correspondent.

INT. OVAL OFFICE - DAY

OFF THEIR REACTIONS, the CAMERA FINDS an under-strength, ad
hoc EXCOM -- Kenny, Bobby, Taylor, Bundy, Sorensen, McCone,
Ball and the President. Guarded hope all around. The short,
balding, pugnacious Scali looks discomfited.

SCALI
I have lunch with him maybe once a
month. Way he talks, he acts like he
knows Khruschev personally, but he's
never elaborated. I've used him as a
source in a couple of stories.

Kenny paces behind the gathered men around the President's
desk, listening, mind going a million miles an hour.

RUSK
The FBI has identified this Alexander
Fomin as the Soviet Resident, the
KGB equivalent of one of our station
chiefs. He's their highest ranking
spy in this country. And he knows
John's a friend of mine.

BUNDY
All the trademarks of a back-channel
overture.

Kenny eyes Bundy, makes him uncomfortable. The President
sizes Scali up.

THE PRESIDENT
So they'll remove the missiles, and
we'll pledge not to invade Cuba,
destabilize Castro or assist anyone
who plans in doing so...

Nobody dares speak. It's as if the possibility of a settlement
will vanish into thin air if anyone moves.

BOBBY
I think... this may be our first
real message from Khruschev.

MCCONE
The alternative, Mr. President, is
that this could be a trap.

KENNY
Dangle a settlement, tie us down in
negotiations, we come up short...

MCCONE
Why else would they approach us in
this way? It's deniable. The Soviets
have done nothing but lie to us.
This could be more of the same.

KENNY
That may be why Khruschev's
introducing this guy. We've been
burned by his usual players in the
formal channels, so he brings in an
honest broker.

MCCONE
That may be what they want us to
think.

RUSK
The truth is, Mr. President, we don't
even really know whom Fomin speaks
for. It could be Khruschev. It could
be some faction in the Politburo or
the KGB itself. We just don't know.

BOBBY
By the way, Scali, your activities
now fall under the secrecy codicils
of the National Security Act. Sorry,
no Pulitzer.

The gathered men chuckle, only Scali a bit dour but being a
good sport about it. Scali checks his watch.

SCALI
Mr. President, we don't have much
time. I'm supposed to meet with him
again in three and a half hours.

THE PRESIDENT
Well, it seems the question of the
day is -- is the offer legitimate?

He moves away from his desk. The men watch him.

THE PRESIDENT
If it is... if it is, then we can't
afford to ignore it.
(beat, to Scali)
John, we'll have instructions for
you in a couple of hours.

Scali nods. Rusk escorts him out. They wait until the door
closes. Taylor looks over at McCone who nods.

GENERAL TAYLOR
Mr. President, I'm afraid we have
some bad news. We're getting GMAIC
estimates from our latest low-level
overflights. It appears the missiles
are two to three days away from
operational status.

MCCONE
So we don't have much time to play
out back-channel communiques.

Kenny gives Bobby a hard look. The President appears unfazed.

GENERAL TAYLOR
The quarantine, sir, is not producing
results. The Chiefs feel it's time
you take another look at our options.

The President considers Taylor, then looks over to Kenny.

THE PRESIDENT
Kenny, get over to your old stomping
grounds. Go through everything the
FBI has on Fomin. I need your best
call: is this guy legit and is he
speaking for Khruschev? And I need
you to tell me by the time I call
you, because right after I call you,
I'm calling Scali with his
instructions.

INT. FBI, COUNTER-INTELLIGENCE DEPARTMENT FILES - NIGHT

BANG! A STACK OF FILES slams down beside Kenny on a large
paper-covered conference table. WALTER SHERIDAN, Kenny's
investigator-buddy, wears a visitor's pass just like Kenny.
Kenny and Walter RIFLE through the folders, super fast, super
proficient. A half-dozen FBI AGENTS work around the table.

SHERIDAN
Okay. So, what we've got is this guy
Alexander Feklisov, aka Alexander
Fomin, declared Consul to the Soviet
Embassy, but in reality the KGB Papa
Spy. An illustrious tour of duty
during the Great Patriotic War gets
him on the Party fast track, various
tours of duty in KGB, American
postings. He's an expert on us, and...
that's all we've got on Papa Spy.

KENNY
Who's he talking for? Is it Khruschev,
or is this more bullshit?

Kenny stands, runs his hands through his hair, aggravated.

KENNY
How do you become the KGB top spy in
the United States?

SHERIDAN
Gotta know someone.

Kenny whirls on Sheridan. A frozen beat.

KENNY
Politics is politics. Walter.
(whirling on Agents)
Khruschev is the Moscow Party Boss
under Stalin. Give me their career
chronologies!

Walter pushes a typed dateline of Khruschev's major career
moves, and one of the Agents hands Kenny a list of Fomin's
postings. He lays them side by side. And for every step of
Khruschev's, there's a step for Fomin. Not only that, but
the DATES ARE IDENTICAL or nearly so.

KENNY
Every time Khruschev moves up, Fomin
does within a year...
(tracing up the list)
Khruschev was the administrator in
charge of preparing Moscow's defenses
during the war. And Fomin... was
here in the U.S.

Kenny's face falls. But a YOUNG FBI AGENT cuts in.

YOUNG FBI AGENT
Not at first.

The Young FBI Agent proffers him a file. Kenny snatches it.

YOUNG FBI AGENT
He was an engineer stationed outside
Moscow in '42. Specialized in tank
traps.

Kenny looks up at Walter. Walter nods sagely, lights a pipe.

KENNY
They know each other. They're war
buddies.

SHERIDAN
It's thin. But real life usually is.

A PHONE on the table SHRILLS, shattering the silent triumph.

KENNY
Hello?

THE PRESIDENT (O.S.)
I've got to move. What do you have,
Kenny?

KENNY
They know each other! Khruschev and
Feklisov aka Fomin were war buddies!

THE PRESIDENT (O.S.)
You're sure...

KENNY
Don't take it to court, but we've
got good circumstantial evidence...
(off Walter's nod)
Walter agrees. My gut's telling me
Khruschev's turning to a trusted old
friend to carry his message.

THE PRESIDENT (O.S.)
Okay, Ken. We're going.

INT. STATLER HOTEL COFFEE SHOP - NIGHT

A few lonely BUSINESS TRAVELERS hang out in the dim coffee
shop. Faint music plays. Scali and ALEXANDER FOMIN sit with
steaming cups of coffee. Scali, nervous, unfolds a note.
Fomin, an expressionless gray spectre of a man, eyes him.
He is, in his boredom, a spy's spy.

SCALI
I am instructed to tell you that the
American Government would respond
favorably to an offer along the lines
you have discussed. If this solution
were raised at the U.N. by Ambassador
Zorin, he would find a favorable
reply from Ambassador Stevenson.

FOMIN
So I understand you correctly. If
the missiles in Cuba were dismantled,
returned to the Soviet Union, and a
guarantee was made not to reintroduce
them, the United States would be
prepared to guarantee that it would
never invade Cuba?

SCALI
That is correct.

FOMIN
This is from the Highest Authority?

SCALI
Yes. From the Highest Authority.
There are two conditions. The U.N.
must be allowed to inspect the removal
of the missiles.

FOMIN
And, of course, the U.N. must be
allowed to observe the redeployment
of forces from the American Southeast.

Scali demurs. He has no instructions on this count.

FOMIN
And the second condition?

SCALI
Time is of the essence.

Scali takes a sip of coffee. Fomin stares at him, intense.

FOMIN
John. How much time?

SCALI
48 hours. In 48 hours there can be
no deals.

INT. OVAL OFFICE - NIGHT

Scali finishes debriefing the President, Bobby, Kenny, McCone,
Taylor and Bundy.

SCALI
He left right away. Got the feeling
he meant business.

Kenny and Bobby share a hopeful glance. Rusk enters from
Kenny's office. And he's unable to contain his excitement.

RUSK
Mr. President, we're receiving a
letter from Khruschev over at State.

INT. COMMUNICATIONS OFFICE - STATE DEPARTMENT - NIGHT

From a cluster of folding metal chairs, Kenny, Bobby, Rusk
and Sorensen watch a TELETYPE hammer out the message as it
comes off the wire. It's painfully slow, like watching a bad
typist type a manuscript. Ten pages of this is an eternity.
To top it off, it's in Russian. A TRANSLATOR reads it off,
word by word to a TRANSCRIBER.

TRANSLATOR
...two... of... us... pull... on...
the... knot... of... war...

INT. CABINET ROOM - NIGHT

Kenny slams a page of Khruschev's letter on the table. He
jabs his finger at it. EXCOM listens, intent.

KENNY
It's ten pages of sentimental fluff,
but he's saying right here. He'll
remove the missiles in return for a
no-invasion pledge. It looks like
Fomin's overture was genuine.

The President turns to McCone.

MCCONE
Our early analysis says this was
probably written by Khruschev himself.
It's a first draft, and shows no
signs of being polished by the foreign
ministry. In fact, it probably hasn't
been approved by the Politburo. They
wouldn't have let the emotionalism
go by. The analysts say it was written
by someone under considerable stress.

EXCOM chuckles.

THE PRESIDENT
Glad to hear we're not alone.

The President eyes the EXCOM members one by one, an incipient
smile on his face.

THE PRESIDENT
Well, gentlemen, I wasn't planning
on invading Cuba anyway. I think we
can live with the terms of this deal.

There are mostly nods of assent, big smiles around the table.
Except from McCone and Taylor. The President takes his copy
of the letter, flips through it. He shakes his head, almost
unable to believe that Khruschev has given in. A long beat.

THE PRESIDENT
Ted, I want you to draft our
acceptance.

EXT. O'DONNELL DRIVEWAY - NIGHT

A long, black car stops at the end of Kenny's driveway. The
door opens, and Kenny steps out. He says an inaudible
goodnight to the driver, and the car pulls off. He turns,
facing the white two-story house with the neat front yard,
the lights out. And he smiles. Home at last.

EXT. O'DONNELL PATIO - NIGHT

A screen door squeaks open. Kenny steps out into the darkness
of the back yard. And there, in her robe, sitting startled
on a lawn chair, lit only by the dim glow of the kitchen
window, is Helen. Kenny stands there tired, his coat slung
over his shoulder.

KENNY
Hi.

Helen rises, her own care-worn face turned to his. For a
silent moment they gaze at each other, searching in the lines
of each others' face for the changes of a long separation.
They see them. But they've been married a long time, and the
awkwardness passes.

HELEN
Hi, O'Donnell. You look old.

Kenny drops his coat on a table as Helen comes up and folds
herself into his arms.

HELEN
This job's going to kill you. If I
don't first.

They kiss, comfortable. But not too long, and he lets her
go. She looks at him again, sees he's suppressing a smile.

HELEN
If you're home it means either Jack
and Bobby have finally figured out
what a con man you are and fired
you, or --

KENNY
-- we got a back channel communication
from Khruschev this evening feeling
us out about a deal. He confirmed it
just a little while ago in a letter
to the President. I think we've won.

HELEN
A thing like this... who could even
think of winning?

INT. HALL OUTSIDE KENNY'S OFFICE - DAY

SUPER: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27TH. DAY 12.

Kenny, in his overcoat, steps aside as a pair of Duty Officers
race past him, almost bowling him over. He slows as he nears
the doors to his office and the Oval Office, DISCOVERING:

TOTAL CHAOS. EXCOM guys, Assistants, dart to and from the
offices and halls. On all their faces grim expressions. Kenny
stands there a beat in confusion. And then Bobby swings out
of Kenny's office. There's a desperate edge to Bobby's voice.

BOBBY
Where've you been? We've been trying
to find you all morning.

KENNY
Helen and I went out for breakfast.
EXCOM's not supposed to convene til
eight.

BOBBY
We just got a second letter from
Khruschev. The deal's off.

INT. HALL OUTSIDE CABINET ROOM - CONTINUOUS

Kenny and Bobby walk fast for the cabinet room, Kenny still
in his coat.

BOBBY
We're getting everyone together as
fast as we can.

KENNY
What does the letter say?

BOBBY
They want us to take our missiles
out of Turkey along with the no
invasion pledge. It looks like Fomin
was a ploy after all, and they were
just stalling for time.

Kenny is stunned.

BOBBY
It gets worse.

Kenny gives Bobby a sharp look as they enter --

INT. CABINET ROOM - CONTINUOUS

The President, in shirtsleeves, no tie, glances up at Kenny
as he and Bobby enter. Kenny can only bear his look for a
second: he blew the call on Fomin. But the President is
clearly relieved to see him, gives him a faint smile. Half
of EXCOM, including McNamara, McCone, Rusk, and Taylor barely
notice them as they're already there arguing.

Kenny sits down hurriedly, shucks off his coat as he joins
the conversation in mid-stream.

MCCONE
My specialists are in agreement:
this morning's letter is not
Khruschev. Last night's letter was.
(beat)
The evidence supports only one
conclusion: there has been a coup,
and Khruschev was replaced overnight.

KENNY
Jesus Christ...

Bobby gives him a look: told you things got worse.

THE PRESIDENT
Dean?

RUSK
It doesn't necessarily mean there's
been a coup. Khruschev's name is
signed to the letter.

MCNAMARA
Aw, come on, Dean!

RUSK
But at the very least... It does
suggest he's been co-opted by hard
line elements.

MCNAMARA
Which at the end of the day is the
same thing as a coup. A puppet
Khruschev, and a hard-line Soviet
government pulling the strings. No
deal. And the missiles are almost
operational.

Bitter silence. They all look to the President. Imminent
victory has turned to ashes. The President studies his own
folded hands. Ball and Thompson enter, take seats. One by
one, throughout the scene, other EXCOM members join the group.

THE PRESIDENT
You know, the problem we have is
that this is latest offer of theirs
will seem reasonable to everyone. We
remove our missiles, they remove
theirs. Our Jupiters were scheduled
for removal anyway. They're obsolete,
after all.

Kenny shakes his head in mute anger. McNamara and Rusk seem
to sense the President's feelings, too.

RUSK
Mr. President, agreeing to such a
trade would be tantamount to paying
ransom. They'll put a gun to our
head again, and expect us to pay
again.

Kenny looks the President in the eye.

KENNY
We can't sell out one of our friends
for our own safety. NATO wouldn't
trust us anymore, and they'd be right
not to.

The President sighs in the face of the stern advice. He nods,
expecting as much. Bobby still can't look at anyone.

THE PRESIDENT
So which one of you geniuses can
tell me how to explain ourselves to
the world? How do we work with them
if there's been a hard-line coup?

GENERAL TAYLOR
Mr. President, there is another
possibility we haven't considered.
This may not be a coup at all.

Everyone of Kenny's instincts jumps. His head snaps up to
listen to Taylor. Taylor pauses.

GENERAL TAYLOR
It's possible that the back-channel
overture, last night's letter, and
this letter today, along with
everything the Soviets have said all
along, is nothing more than a lie --
disinformation.

MCNAMARA
Designed to keep us from taking
action.

Kenny hears the fatalism in McNamara's voice. A long beat.
Everyone stares at McNamara.

MCNAMARA
I hate to say it, but if I had to
bet, I'd bet Max is right. What if
they have no intention of honoring
this deal, either? Then tomorrow
they add another condition. Meanwhile,
the quarantine isn't working and
they're continuing to work on the
missile sites.
(beat)
I think we have to consider issuing
warning orders for our forces.

They were so close last night... and suddenly Lundahl and
LeMay enter the room with the day's briefing boards.

LUNDAHL
Mr. President...

Lundahl stands there at the end of the table, gray. He almost
can't say it, can't look the President in the face.

LUNDAHL
This morning's photography is in. It
appears the Soviets have commenced a
crash program to ready the missiles.

SMASH CUT TO:

EXT. MISSILE SITE - CUBA - CONTINUOUS

The missiles site is now more than just dirt and clearing
equipment. It's an armed camp, with missiles, fuel trailers,
erectors spaced every few hundred yards. MISSILE TECHNICIANS
service the towering SS-4s.

LUNDAHL (V.O.)
The first missiles became operational
last night.

With a barrage of shouted orders in Russian, and a whine of
the ERECTOR's engines, THE MISSILE BEGINS TO RISE.

LUNDAHL
We expect they'll all be operational
in 36 hours: Monday morning.

It stops, vertical.

SMASH CUT TO:

INT. CABINET ROOM - CONTINUOUS

The news hits the room like a thunderbolt. Kenny looks to
Bobby and the President. The blood is gone from their faces.

MCNAMARA
Then we're out of time. We have to
go in.

LUNDAHL
That may not be as easy as we thought
either. We've gotten confirmation
that the Soviets have also deployed
battlefield nuclear weapons to Cuba.

A pall falls over the room as LeMay explains.

LEMAY
FROGS, we call 'em. Short range
tactical nukes. It's possible they've
delegated release authority to their
local commanders for use against our
invasion troops. It'd be standard
doctrine.
(beat)
Our capability to get all the missiles
has eroded during our delay with the
quarantine. The good news is that
for the moment we know where the
FROGS are, and we can target them,
too. But the longer we wait, the
hard it's going to get.

They all look to the President. Kenny stares, in a private
hell, blacker and more complete than anyone should ever know.

In that shocked silence each man grapples with failure. The
Best and the Brightest could not prevent what must come next.

THE PRESIDENT
Then we have no choice.
(to Taylor)
General, issue the warning orders to
our forces. They will be prepared to
execute the air strikes Monday morning
and the follow-on invasion according
to the schedule thereafter. I'll
need the official release orders on
my desk Sunday night.

GENERAL TAYLOR
Understood, sir. We need to step up
the overflights, finalize our pilots'
target folders in order to be able
to carry out the strikes.

The President gives Kenny a meaningful look.

THE PRESIDENT
Permission granted.

Taylor exits. Kenny rises, gives the President an almost
imperceptible nod, as he prepares to leave in Taylor's wake.

THE PRESIDENT
Gentlemen, if anybody's got any great
ideas, now's the time...

INT. READY ROOM - MACDILL AFB - DAY

MAJOR RUDOLPH ANDERSON, 30, wearing the bulky high-altitude
pressure suit of a U-2 pilot, takes the phone from one of
the Air Force NCOs who are helping him suit up.

MAJOR ANDERSON
This is Major Anderson.

INTERCUT CALL TO:

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

Kenny, at the other end of the line, stares out the window
at the fall day. It seems so mild, so unlike war. And it
takes him a beat before he realizes Anderson's on the line.

MAJOR ANDERSON (O.S.)
Hello? Anyone there?

KENNY
Major, my name is Kenneth O'Donnell.
Special Assistant to the President.

Kenny takes a breath, ready to start the shuck-and-jive...
but for some reason doesn't.

KENNY
Major, a few days ago the President
ordered me to help him keep control
of what's going on out there. I've
been browbeating pilots, navy guys
left and right to make sure you don't
get us here in Washington into
trouble. But you know what? We're
pretty damn good at getting ourselves
into trouble. So instead of riding
your ass, I'm just going to tell you
what's going on, and let you figure
out how best to help us out up here.

INT. READY ROOM - MACDILL AFB - CONTINUOUS

Now mostly suited up, Major Anderson takes the phone out of
the NCO's hand. He nods, serious.

MAJOR ANDERSON
Go ahead, sir.

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

KENNY
Last night, we looked like we were
going to cut a deal to get us all
out of this mess. Today, the Soviets
are reneging. We're going to try to
salvage the situation, but a lot of
things are going wrong today. It's
making everyone nervous, and it will
be very hard to avoid going to war.
Don't get shot down, Major. Beyond
that, whatever else you can do to
help us, I'd really appreciate it.

INT. READY ROOM - MACDILL AFB - CONTINUOUS

Major Anderson waves his NCOs away. They leave the room. The
Major sits on a bench in front of his locker, thinks.

MAJOR ANDERSON
When you're up there at 72,000 feet,
there's a million things that can go
wrong. Is your oxygen mix right?
Will your cameras freeze up? Are you
leaving contrail...
(beat)
Those million things are beyond your
control, mostly... But you know,
when you realize that, there's a
kind of peace. You don't need to be
in control. You never were in control
in the first place. If you're a good
man, and your ground crew are good
men, it's all you can ask for. And
with the grace of God, it'll get you
through.

The young Major smiles to himself, to the phone.

MAJOR ANDERSON
You sound like a good man. You'll be
all right, Mr. O'Donnell. We believe
in you guys down here.
(beat)
Thanks for the call.

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

Kenny nods to himself, deeply touched by the man's faith.

KENNY
Thank you, Major.

INT. READY ROOM - MACDILL AFB - CONTINUOUS

With a click, the line goes dead and Anderson walks the phone
over to the receiver on the wall.

END INTERCUT:

EXT. RUNWAY - MACDILL AFB - MOMENTS LATER

A cart speeds down the tarmac, an NCO behind the wheel. Beside
him sits Major Anderson, his helmet on, visor up. He adjusts
the mix on the oxygen bottle he's carrying at his feet,
breathing in preparation for the high-altitude flight. Up
ahead, among a host of service vehicles, sits the U-2.

INT. U-2 - DAY

Anderson switches over to the U-2's oxygen supply as his
NCOs belt him in. They slap him on the helmet for good luck
and lower the canopy as he brings his engines up to power.

MAJOR ANDERSON
This is flight G3132, requesting
permission for take-off.

TOWER VOICE (O.S.)
G3132, you've got runway one, you
are cleared to proceed to Angels 72.

MAJOR ANDERSON
Roger that.

And he throws the throttle forward,

SMASH CUT TO:

EXT. STRATOSPHERE - MOMENTS LATER

The twilight, in-between, world of the stratosphere. Far
below -- clouds, shining blue day. Above, stars and the indigo
depths of space. We hang in utter silence.

A silver glint appears in the center of the horizon. It grows
larger. Then larger still. It is the U-2. We barely have
time to register the rising hiss of its engines, when it
FILLS THE SCREEN and BOOMS PAST, leaving us standing still.

The CAMERA PANS to follow it, but it's already dwindled to a
speck, and we feel how fast 600 miles an hour really is.

INT. U-2 - CONTINUOUS

Anderson's gloved hand reaches for the CAMERA HEATER switches.

EXT. U-2 - CONTINUOUS

The belly door whines open like a silver eyelid, exposing
the camera's lense.

INT. U-2 - CONTINUOUS

Anderson double checks his position, switches to the autopilot
for the stability only the machine can provide, then hits
the CAMERA ACTIVATE button on his joystick. BAMABMABMABMA...
The camera begins its photography.

Anderson watches the number on the film-remaining counter
spool down. He stares out the window. The towering clouds
below rise up magnificent, glorious... a glimpse of heaven.

Rapt, Anderson stares. And then suddenly a BLARING ALARM
GOES OFF IN THE COCKPIT. It shocks Anderson around to the
controls. It's his MISSILE WARNING LIGHT.

Anderson' hands flash out to the joystick, turning off the
cameras, disabling autopilot. He banks the U-2 hard.

EXT. U-2 - CONTINUOUS

As the U-2 turns, far, far below, emerging from the clouds,
barely visible, rises a CONTRAIL. It arcs lazily toward us.
A beat, and then another CONTRAIL.

Then ANOTHER. The anti-aircraft missiles creating them are
too small to be seen with the naked eye.

INT. U-2 - CONTINUOUS

The cockpit is a cacophony of alarms and lights, the horizon
outside tilted. Anderson's breath comes fast, rasping as he
does his strains going into the high-g turn.

He looks out the cockpit window, finds the first SA-2 missile
in pursuit only several thousand feet below him now. He waits.
Waits. Waits, still in the turn. The black head of the missile
now visible.

He puts the plane over, rolling out into an opposite bank.

EXT. U-2 - CONTINUOUS

The spy plane's long flimsy wings weren't made for
dogfighting. They BEND terribly in the rollout. And then the
first missile STREAKS past, tries to correct its miss, but
can't and vanishes into the distance at a 90-degree angle.

INT. U-2 - CONTINUOUS

Anderson's breath comes faster and faster as the second
missile rises up, now visible. He puts the throttle as far
as it goes, trying to outrun death. Every second is a tenth
of a mile, and every mile shortens the missile's life span.

The rising missile drafts aft, closing on the U-2 from behind.

EXT. U-2 - CONTINUOUS

The second missile's contrail rises up behind the plane,
levels off, and closes on it at a tremendous rate.

The third missile rises up in the far distance behind the
second.

The second missile races up on the U-2, closer, right behind
it, can't miss. Then at a hundred yards, the contrail suddenly
peters out, and the missile, out of fuel, drops away.

But the third missile closes.

INT. U-2 - CONTINUOUS

Anderson glances out the window, sees the spent missiles
fall away, and spots the third missile still seeking him
aft. Hand pinning the throttle forward, he prays under his
breath.

EXT. U-2 - CONTINUOUS

The third SA-2 rides its billowing column of exhaust straight
for the tail of the U-2. This one is not out of fuel.

INT. U-2 - CONTINUOUS

Major Anderson opens his eyes. He stares out the window at
the glorious wonder of cloud and sea and earth below.

EXT. U-2 - CONTINUOUS

And the missile looms. We have time to realize it's almost
as big as the plane itself before it SHEARS right into the U
2's tail and EXPLODES in a BLINDING FLASH.

INT. HALL OUTSIDE BUNDY'S OFFICE - DAY

Kenny, jogging down the hall, hears form an open door.

BUNDY (O.S.)
Kenny!

Kenny goes over to the threshold. Inside the office Bundy
stands up from behind his desk, grave. And Kenny knows.

INT. CABINET ROOM - DAY

All of EXCOM is there except for Bundy. Kenny sits behind
the President, deeply distraught over Major Anderson.

THE PRESIDENT
Does this attack on our plane
represent a definitive, intentional
escalation on the part of the Soviets?

GENERAL TAYLOR
The Soviets are in control of the
SAMs. It's hard to believe with their
centralized command structure that
it could be an accidental launch.

MCCONE
Mr. President, taken with the events
of the past few hours, I believe
this confirms our worst fears. We're
now dealing with a hard-line Soviet
government, perhaps with Khruschev
as a puppet head, perhaps not.

In the silence, Kenny reads the faces around the room. They're
convinced by McCone's pronouncement. Kenny's not.

KENNY
It could be a mistake.

McCone gives him a get-serious look. But Kenny presses on.

KENNY
We need to be positive before we
react.

Bundy enters the room. Everyone looks up. He stands there in
the doorway, his face tight.

Kenny sags in his chair. Bundy, of course, has more bad news,
and they all know it. A hopeless beat. The President just
stares at Bundy, unable to ask. Bundy nods, affirming what
everyone is thinking.

BUNDY
A U-2 on a routine air-sampling
mission over Siberia got lost and
penetrated Soviet airspace. The
Soviets scrambled MIGs in pursuit,
thinking it was a bomber. It got out
okay. Somebody forgot to cancel the
mission.

THE PRESIDENT
Goddammitt. There's always some
sonofabitch who doesn't get the word.
All we need is the Soviets thinking
we're bombing them.
(facetious)
Anybody else?

The humor falls on a cold audience.

GENERAL TAYLOR
Mr. President, our pilots are in
danger. We must order punitive
airstrikes against the SAM site that
shot down Major Anderson per our
rules of engagement.

And finally the moment Kenny has dreaded all this time has
come to pass. He looks at Bobby, then at the President. The
President stares at the cup of coffee in his hands, as if
trying to read the Fates' design in it. A long beat, and
everyone holds their breath.

THE PRESIDENT
No. I want confirmation there wasn't
some sort of accident first.

LeMay clears his throat. Everyone looks at him, expecting
him to scream or jump up and down.

LEMAY
I think that's a good idea, Mr.
President. It'll be safer for my
boys to get those SAMs on Monday
when we get the rest of the bastards.
I can wait a day and a half.

THE PRESIDENT
Very well, then.

But he says it without any belief in the words, realizing
they're being tied fast to the train tracks of war.

INT. KENNY'S OFFICE - DAY

Alone in his office, shattered, Kenny stares out the window,
viewing the distant Ellipse through a gap in the trees. Kids
are out there playing football. He glances at his watch, and
grabs his jacket.

EXT. WHITE HOUSE - DAY

Kenny puts on his jacket as he goes down the steps into the
bright autumn day, walking away from the White House. It
drops behind him -- his step is faster, more urgent.

EXT. STREET - DAY

Kenny walks down the sidewalk, drawn toward the Ellipse. The
sixth grade FOOTBALL PLAYERS sweep forward with a running
play. Kenny scans them, searching, his breath coming hard.

EXT. ELLIPSE - DAY

He reaches the edge of the open field. And then he spots the
name on the jersey: O'Donnell. It's Kevin. The players
relinquish the ball and the offense comes off the field.
Kevin sees his dad.

KEVIN
Hey! Dad!

Kenny manages a smile as Kevin trots over. Kevin pulls his
helmet off. They stand there a long beat, Kenny desperate to
take him up, abandon his post... but he doesn't.

KENNY
Hey, sport. You winning?

KEVIN
Yeah.

But Kevin sees the turmoil in his father's face.

KEVIN
Is everything going to be okay, Dad?

Kenny's forced smile is answer enough.

KENNY
Yeah, Kev. Everything's gonna be
fine.

But Kevin knows. Together they know. The end of the world is
at hand.

KEVIN
I guess you won't be coming home
tonight.

KENNY
I, uh...

Suddenly a car HONKS. Kenny turns around. Bobby is leaning
out the rear passenger window of his limo. And he sees what
Kenny is doing. He doesn't want to cut in, but has to.

BOBBY
Kenny! We need to talk.

Kenny looks back at his son.

KENNY
Get back out there, kid. Remember to
hit 'em hard.

KEVIN
What about you? Where are you going?

KENNY
Back to work.

Kevin puts his helmet back on his head. Kenny watches as
Kevin jogs off to rejoin his team. Kenny turns his back on
his son, and strides for Bobby's limo, dying inside.

EXT. SANS SOUCI PARKING LOT - DAY

Kenny and Bobby stand by their car off to one side of the
restaurant's parking lot. Bobby's Secret Service Agents
maintain a discreet distance.

KENNY
If we're going to make a deal, we're
going to have to do it fast. This is
only getting out of control. The
only reason we're not at war this
very minute is he's been able to
stretch, bend and break his own rules.
He won't be able to keep it up
forever.

Bobby jams the last bit of sandwich in his mouth. A beat.
Kenny looks him in the eye.

BOBBY
And?

KENNY
And Jack wants to trade the missiles
in Turkey.

BOBBY
The Jupiters are obsolete. They were
supposed to have been dismantled
last summer anyway --

KENNY
-- Jesus, Mary and Joseph. I told
you how stupid it was to float the
Lippman article! But you wouldn't
listen to me. What if there hasn't
been a coup at all? What if it's you
two who invited that second letter
by raising the possibility of a trade?

Bobby is speechless with rage.

KENNY
And if the two of you are thinking
this trade is your ace in the hole,
you're so wrong. It's a deuce.

Bobby's beyond furious. They catch their rising voices.

KENNY
And it's not just me who thinks that.
Everyone on this so-called EXCOM is
telling you exactly the same thing:
make the trade, and they're going to
force us into trade after trade until
finally they demand something we
won't trade like Berlin, and we do
end up in a war.
(beat)
Not to mention, that long before
that happens, this government will
be politically dead.

Bobby simmers for a long beat, thinking. And boy, does this
guy hate admitting he's wrong.

BOBBY
All right, so maybe we overestimated
how reasonable this trade would look.
Okay? You happy? So now what?

KENNY
So now you've got to talk him out of
it. And then we've got to figure out
an acceptable political solution.

BOBBY
And if there has been a coup and
there is no acceptable political
solution?

Kenny stares off at the city, agonized.

INT. OVAL OFFICE - NIGHT

Kenny enters from his office, finding Bobby, Rusk and Sorensen
talking with the President. The President gives him a brief,
meaningful look.

RUSK
Whatever response we send, it will
take several hours for the wire to
be received by our embassy and
delivered to the Kremlin. So we're
looking at early tomorrow morning at
the earliest before Khruschev could
respond.

As Rusk talks, Kenny passes close by Bobby. Bobby whispers:

BOBBY
He gets it, but he's pissed.

THE PRESIDENT
That's all well and good, but what
do we say to 'em?

SORENSEN
It depends on if we really believe
there's been a coup.

That strikes a cord with Kenny.

KENNY
I agree. If there has been a coup,
and there's a hard-line government
in power now, then it doesn't matter
what we say. The end of the day we'll
either agree to their terms, they'll
agree to ours, or we'll go to war.
But what if there hasn't been a coup?
What if... what if what is happening
is a series of accidents?

SORENSEN
The second letter is an accident?

KENNY
No. The letter is an intentional,
but it's having an effect far greater
than its authors intended.
(beat)
What if our Jupiter missiles are
just a last minute haggle to salvage
something? Maybe a bone Khruschev is
throwing to the hard line, not really
caring if we reject it or not?
(beat)
And then these accidents have
happened.

BOBBY
Making the second letter and the
overall picture look worse than it
really is.

SORENSEN
The Guns of August.

KENNY
Exactly.
(beat)
If they're sane and human like we
are, then maybe we just refuse, and
they'll let it slide, like we've
been letting things slide.

SORENSEN
So we reject the second letter.

And Kenny looks at Bobby. The world stops.

KENNY
No. We don't reject it...

It hits Bobby like a lightning bolt.

BOBBY
...We accept the first letter and
pretend the second doesn't exist.

The President, Rusk and Sorensen stare at him, mute.

INT. CABINET ROOM - NIGHT

HOLD ON the exact same mute reaction from the entire assembled
EXCOM. Finally McCone breaks the spell.

MCCONE
It won't work --

Bobby, Kenny and Sorensen start to object, but McCone raises
his voice over theirs.

MCCONE
-- because it's wishful thinking!
It's the same wishful thinking that
blinded us all these months while
the Soviets were sneaking those
missiles in under our noses!

McNamara shakes his head, intrigued but skeptical.

MCNAMARA
Ignore the second letter, agree to
the conditions of the first...

GENERAL TAYLOR
There's no reason to believe the
Soviets will let it go.

RUSK
Max is right. Why will they accept
it?

MCNAMARA
It can work. If, IF they believe
we'll hit them.

Kenny, Bobby and Sorensen look at McNamara, grateful.

MCNAMARA
We've only got time for one more
round of diplomacy. The first
airstrikes start in less than 36
hours.

RUSK
But we have to make them agree to
it. So how do we do that?

The President leans forward. Sensing he's about to speak,
all eyes turn to him.

THE PRESIDENT
We give them something. We tell them
we'll remove the missiles from Turkey
say, six months from now so that
there appears to be no linkage. We
also tell them if they go public
about it, we deny it and the deal is
off.

KENNY
And we do it under the table so we
can disavow any knowledge of it.

MCCONE
It's transparent. The press'll be
all over it.

KENNY
Six months from now, I'm not going
to care. Are you? We'll deal with
it.

MCNAMARA
At least it will expose whether
Khruschev has been overthrown. We'll
know what we're dealing with.

KENNY
And if this is a move to appease the
hard line, then it may just be the
bone he needs to regain control of
his own house.

Most EXCOM is nodding, agreeing. McCone shakes his head in
disgust. Taylor sits in silence.

RUSK
Whoever carries the message has to
hit the nail on the head. Come across
as too soft, they'll push us. Too
hard, they'll be cornered and even
more dangerous.

MCCONE
They could pre-empt.

It's a terrible responsibility to bear. The room is silent.
At last Bobby looks up from his folded hands to his brother.
The President stares back. There is nobody else who can do
this. Only Bobby. His brother.

THE PRESIDENT
Bobby. You know Dobrynin best.

Bobby nods, taking up the gauntlet.

THE PRESIDENT
Ted, you get working on the draft.

Sorensen and Bobby rise as one, head for the doors.

THE PRESIDENT
And make sure he knows we have to
have an answer tomorrow.
(beat, final)
Because on Monday we begin military
action against Cuba.

Bobby and Kenny exchange a look.

EXT. WEST WING DRIVEWAY - NIGHT

A LONG SHOT: Bobby emerges from the West Wing in his overcoat,
briefcase in hand. He pauses, tiny, alone. The West Wing --
and all its imposing spotlit power behind him -- reduced to
this insignificant man on his eleventh-hour mission.

And then, out of the shadows, in the f.g., steps Kenny in
his own coat, his breath frosting in the late-night air.
Bobby sees him, and knows he is not so alone anymore.

ON THE DRIVEWAY

They meet in front of the limo. Bobby stops, shuffles his
things, awkward.

BOBBY
What do you want? A good-bye kiss?

Kenny opens the driver's side door. The Secret Service LIMO
DRIVER peers out.

LIMO DRIVER
Hey, Kenny.

KENNY
Hey, Joe. Listen, I'll take care of
him. Go ahead in, grab some coffee.
We'll be back pretty quick.

LIMO DRIVER
You sure?

Kenny's nod and look -- there's no arguing. The Limo Driver
hops out, and Kenny gets in. Bobby stands there outside for
a beat. He tries to hide how touched he is, but can't
completely.

KENNY
What's the matter with you? Forget
how to open a car door?

INT. BOBBY'S LIMO - NIGHT

Bobby recovers, opens his own door, gets in the front seat
next to Kenny.

KENNY
Jesus, you rich people.

Kenny starts up the engine. Bobby smiles a twisted smile. As
the car pulls away, the two men sit in silence, neither
willing to admit how glad the other is there.

EXT. PENNSYLVANIA AVE. - NIGHT

The limo wheels out into the street, carrying the two friends
into the darkness.

INT. BOBBY'S LIMO - NIGHT

Bobby stares out the window at the passing city, the lights
the lives behind those windows. As the car drives on and on,
the tension returns. Bobby feels the weight of all those
lives. On him. A long beat. He gazes at Kenny, the only man
he could ever admit this to:

BOBBY
I don't know if I can do this.

Kenny glances over at him. Bobby stares back.

KENNY
There's nobody else I'd rather have
going in there.

Bobby looks at him.

KENNY
Nobody else I'd trust Helen and the
kids' lives to.

Kenny means it. He looks away. Bobby shifts, awkward.

BOBBY
Take a left.

Kenny looks at him. This isn't the way to the Justice
Department. But he complies.

BOBBY
We gave so much to get here. I don't
know. Sometimes I think what the
hell did we do it for?

KENNY
Because we knew we could do a better
job than everyone else.

And Bobby, in the silence and closeness of the car, turns on
Kenny -- anguished, knowing his life is at its climax.

BOBBY
You know... I hate being called the
brilliant one. The ruthless one.
They guy who does the dirty work.
The one everybody's afraid of.

Kenny looks to him, moved, not knowing what to say.

BOBBY
I hate it. I'm not smart, you know.
And I'm not so ruthless.

He looks to Kenny, searching his face, then away, embarrassed.

KENNY
You're right about the smart part,
but ruthless, well...

That breaks the tension as they arrive at the scene:

THROUGH THE WINDOW

Appears the grim, square lines of the SOVIET EMBASSY. Police
cars line the streets outside it. All the windows are dark.
A cordon of KGB GUARDS in plainclothes stand by the gated
entrance. On the opposite side of the street lounge two dozen
WASHINGTON D.C. POLICE.

RESUME

Kenny gives Bobby a look. Bobby rolls down his window.

BOBBY
Slow down. Smell that?

KENNY
Smoke.

BOBBY
Just wanted to see for myself.
(beat)
They're burning their documents.

The final duty of an embassy before war...

BOBBY
They think we're going to war. God
help us, Ken.

EXT. SOVIET EMBASSY - NIGHT

THE CAMERA lifts away from the limo, turning toward the
Embassy, past the Guards, past the brass plate which reads
EMBASSY OF THE UNITED SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS, up and up
to the roof where black, reeking SMOKE billows from all of
the Embassy's several chimneys.

The CAMERA races into it. It engulfs us all.

EXT. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT - NIGHT

Kenny squeals the limo up to the curb in front of the Justice
Department. The doors fly open, and Kenny and Bobby jump
out, head up the steps to the building.

INT. HALL OUTSIDE BOBBY'S OFFICE - NIGHT

Bobby's STAFFERS greet them as they stride down the hall,
Staffer #1 taking Bobby's coat.

STAFFER #1
Sir, Ambassador Dobrynin is already
here. We have him waiting in your
office.

They reach the double oak doors to Bobby's suite and stop.
Bobby faces Kenny.

KENNY
I'll whistle up some luck for you.

And before Kenny's eyes, all of Bobby's doubt vanishes. In
its place, a severe confidence. A grandeur Kenny has never
seen.

It makes Kenny pause. He beholds his best friend become a
man of the ages. And then Bobby SMOOTHLY opens the door.

INT. BOBBY'S WAITING ROOM - NIGHT

And a DOOR SHUTS OC like a threshold of history. HOLD ON
Bobby's waiting room. Silent. Cavernous. Dim. Plush carpet.
Heavy drapes framing dark windows. And abandoned secretary's
desk. A row of sofas and chairs on either side of the room.
Two doorways, one at either end of the room.

A WOMAN sits in one of the chairs for visitors. Dressed in
gray. Prim. But beautiful. A secretary of some sort.

One of the double doors to the hall swings silently open.
Kenny glides in. He sees the other door shut at the far end
of the room. Kenny crashes in one of the chairs to wait.

HOLD ON THE SCENE, motionless, silent.

Kenny WHISTLES two notes. Stops. And then he begins to WHISTLE
the Irish tune, O'Donnell Aboo. He gets a bar into it -- and
there's a polite, soft COUGH.

Kenny stops. Then notices the Woman in gray across the room.
He didn't see her. It's dim over there. She looks at him,
expressionless.

The CAMERA FINDS: a pin on her lapel. A RED HAMMER AND SICKLE.

Kenny reacts. Dobrynin's assistant? His opposite number? A
friend? Or more than a friend?

Here is the face of the enemy. Not a smile between them.
Kenny resumes his ease. And begins to WHISTLE again.

The haunting Irish song echoes in the vaulted ceiling, filling
the dim room. Strange, sad, beautiful. The woman listens.
And her face begins to soften.

Kenny stares at the dark, lonely windows, his SONG striving
to fill the empty room.

Kenny sinks deeper in the chair, his tune all-consuming...
and the Woman's voice breaks in. Kenny stops, looks over.
Her voice is tremulous and beautiful. Just a snatch of some
song in Russian. She stops, awkward.

Kenny stares. The Woman stares back. No smiles. But in their
eyes, they each see the other's fear, the other's beauty,
the other's humanity.

So this is the enemy.

THE WOMAN
Who are you?

Kenny glances to the door. He considers for a long moment.

KENNY
The friend.

Kenny breaks the gaze. He begins to whistle again. The CAMERA
drifts away, finding the far DOOR to the inner office, Kenny's
tune stronger, carrying with it hope...

INT. BOBBY'S OFFICE - NIGHT

...to the other side of that DOOR. Dobrynin sits in a chair
opposite Bobby behind his desk. The room is equally dim.
And far more tense.

Silence. And then the FAINTEST STRAIN of O'Donnell Aboo.
Dobrynin glances briefly over his shoulder at the door.

But Bobby, unseen by Dobrynin, can't help the flicker of a
private smile. It's Kenny's presence, and Bobby is the
stronger for it. And then the tune is gone.

Bobby leans forward, cool, controlled, masterful.

BOBBY
Ambassador Dobrynin, we are aware
that at this moment your missiles in
Cuba are at the brink of operational
readiness...

SMASH CUT TO:

EXT. MISSILE SITE - CUBA - CONTINUOUS

Floodlights illuminate MISSILES, vertical on their erectors,
support VEHICLES, clustered across the man-made clearing.

Mask-wearing Technicians wave a FUEL TRUCK back to the nearest
missile. Clouds of toxic VAPOR rise from the others. They've
already been fueled.

BOBBY (V.O.)
They are a vital threat to my country.
If launched, they would kill 80
million Americans.

SMASH CUT TO:

INT. BOBBY'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

Dobrynin listens impassively, as is his professional duty.

BOBBY
My brother, my friends, my countrymen
and I cannot and will not permit
those missiles to become operational.
(beat)
I promise you that.

Dobrynin looks out the window. And then, pained, looks back
at Bobby.

DOBRYNIN
Then I fear our two nations will go
to war. And I fear where war will
lead us.

Bobby acknowledges him with a nod.

BOBBY
If the missiles do not become
operational, if you remove the
missiles, then there will be no war.
(beat)
At this moment, the President is
accepting the terms of Secretary
Khruschev's letter of Friday night.
If the Soviet Union halts construction
immediately, removes the missiles,
and submits to U.N. inspection, the
United States will pledge to never
invade Cuba or aid others in that
enterprise.

Dobrynin stares at Bobby. Stares hard.

DOBRYNIN
If your Jupiter missiles in Turkey
were removed also, such an
accommodation could be reached.

The two men move their argument forward with the deliberation
and formality of chess masters.

BOBBY
(tired sounding)
The United States cannot agree to
such terms under threat. Any belief
to the contrary --
(beat)
-- was in error.

Dobrynin reels internally. The only sign on his face is a
slight tremor. Bobby looks up, registers the calculated
effect. And to Dobrynin's horror, the Russian believes:

DOBRYNIN
You want war...

But not so fast. Bobby folds his hands. And he smoothly goes
from hard-ass brinksman to sensitive deal-maker.

BOBBY
However, while there can be no quid
pro quo on this issue, the United
States can offer a private assurance.

Dobrynin holds his breath.

BOBBY
Our Jupiter missiles in Turkey are
obsolete, and have been scheduled
for withdrawal for some time. This
withdrawal should be completed within,
say, six months.

Dobrynin lets out his breath.

BOBBY
Of course, any public disclosure of
this assurance would negate the deal
and produce the most stringent denials
from our government.

Dobrynin grasps the move immediately, understanding the
ramifications. Still he hesitates a moment.

DOBRYNIN
This private assurance represents
the word of the Highest Authority?

BOBBY
Yes.

DOBRYNIN
And it can be relayed beyond Comrade
Khruschev's ears to the top circles
of my government

BOBBY
Of course. Our pledge can be relayed
to any government official Secretary
Khruschev sees fit to satisfy.

Meaning this is the bone he can show the hard line. Dobrynin
struggles internally, knowing what Bobby has done, wanting
to hug him. It comes across as agitation.

BOBBY
With the caveat that it is not made
public in any way, shape or form.
(beat)
And we must have an answer tomorrow
at the latest. I cannot stress this
point enough.

DOBRYNIN
Tomorrow...

BOBBY
Tomorrow...

Dobrynin rises from his chair. Bobby rises with him.

DOBRYNIN
Then you must excuse me and permit
me to relay the substance of our
discussion to my superiors.

Dobrynin heads for the door. Half way there he turns back to
Bobby, deeply moved. Deeply grateful.

DOBRYNIN
We have heard stories that some among
your military men wish for war.
(beat)
You are a good man. Your brother is
a good man. I assure you there are
other good men. Let us hope the will
of good men is enough to counter the
terrible strength of this thing which
has been put in motion.

INT. OVAL OFFICE - NIGHT

Kenny enters the Oval Office through his side door. The office
is dark, only the desk lamp on. Kenny's gaze moves over the
trappings of power: the carpet with the Presidential Seal,
the rocking chair by the fireplace, the desk.

And on the desk, tucked almost out of sight, sits a small,
humble wooden plaque. It's turned to face the occupant of
the chair behind the desk. Kenny reaches out, turns it around.
It is the Breton's Fisherman's Prayer.

It reads: OH LORD, THY SEA IS GREAT, MY BOAT SO SMALL.

BOBBY (O.S.)
We're out here.

Kenny holds on the plaque a beat, and looks up at the open
French door to the Rose Garden. The curtains swirl around
him in the wind as he goes through the door and out --

EXT. PORTICO - CONTINUOUS

-- onto the portico. Standing there in the dark, by the white
neoclassical pillars of the cloister, are Bobby and the
President. They're holding drinks. Kenny joins them.

The President gestures out across the South Lawn to the
gleaming Washington Monument.

THE PRESIDENT
We were just debating who had it
worse, us or George Washington and
his guys.

BOBBY
He didn't have to worry about nuclear
weapons.

THE PRESIDENT
Yeah, but the country didn't even
exist as a country yet. It was a
mess, and he didn't have a leg to
stand on.

KENNY
All he had was his character.

The President and Bobby nod at the justice of that remark.

BOBBY
How does a guy get a rep like that?

THE PRESIDENT
Doesn't matter to me. If I went down
in history like Adams, I'd die happy.
All they say about him today is --

KENNY
-- he kept the peace.

Kenny looks at the President. The President feels it, and
gazes back to him.

The three of them stare out at the glittering city. The
grandness of the world lies before them, and they are deciding
its fate, and are humbled by the awfulness of it. The silence
is beyond power.

And for a long moment, they know not to disturb it. There is
nothing left to say. The President, at last, finishes his
drink.

THE PRESIDENT
You know, we never did control it.
Not really. Not like we think.

He looks at Kenny. Kenny nods. He knows that now too.

THE PRESIDENT
But we did our best. Now it's up to
them.

EXT. O'DONNELL DRIVEWAY - NIGHT

Kenny's limo pulls away, leaving Kenny, coat in hand, at the
bottom of his driveway. He watches it go, silently urging it
to return for him with some call from the President telling
him he's desperately needed. But it doesn't.

He turns to his house. The lights are all out.

He notices he's CLUTCHING the handle of his briefcase. His
knuckles are white. With conscious effort, he unfolds his
hand, letting the briefcase drop on the driveway.

He stands alone, stripped of his friends, his family, his
job... and in that moment, mute, impotent in the shadow of
Armageddon, Kenny is our Everyman of the Nuclear Age.

INT. O'DONNELL KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS

Helen stands in the kitchen, a ghostly white figure in her
robe, the windows open and curtain flapping as she breathes
the air. Kenny enters. He stands in the doorway.

HELEN
I saw you out there. You want him to
call you back, need you.

KENNY
No. I'm glad I'm home.

And she knows the worst.

HELEN
How long do we have?

Kenny's voice breaks.

KENNY
If the sun rises in the morning, it
is only because of men of goodwill.
(beat)
And that's all there is between us
and the Devil.

They take each other in their arms, the wisdom of the atomic
age so simple, so tenuous, every human life hanging by such
a thread... yet a thread so powerful. The CAMERA RISES FROM
THEM, finding the OPEN WINDOW and the DARKNESS.

INT. O'DONNELL BEDROOM - DAWN

The RED DOME OF NUCLEAR FIRE rising over Washington. It roils
the air in its expanding, blood-red glory.

It is the sun. The dawn in the East.

PULL BACK THROUGH THE OPEN WINDOW.

SUPER: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 28TH. DAY 13

into Kenny and Helen's bedroom. And silence. Kenny and Helen
lie together on the bed. The light burns into Kenny's half-
shut eye. Kenny is only dimly conscious of the light's
meaning. Until the PHONE SHRILLS downstairs.

Kenny is instantly up, launched out of the room.

INT. O'DONNELL KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS

Kenny snatches the RED PHONE from its hook.

KENNY
Yeah?

BOBBY (O.S.)
Kenny. It's over.

EXT. ST. STEPHEN'S CHURCH - DAY

THE CHURCH BELLS TOLL in raucous celebration. Kenny, Helen
and the five O'DONNELL KIDS join the throng packing through
the doors to the church. They're all smiling except Kenny
who searches fro faces in the CROWD.

And then he spots Bobby with his FAMILY. Bobby grins at him.
That makes Kenny grin back.

RADIO MOSCOW (O.S.)
This is Radio Moscow. Moscow calling.

But Kenny keeps looking.

RADIO MOSCOW
The following statement is the text
of a letter from General Secretary
Khruschev to President Kennedy.

Kenny spots him emerging from the Presidential limo,
surrounded by Secret Service Agents -- John Kennedy. His
FAMILY also is with him.

RADIO MOSCOW
...I regard with respect and trust
the statement you made in your message
of 27 October 1962 that there would
be no attack, no invasion of Cuba,
and not only the part of the United
States, but also on the part of the
Western Hemisphere, as you said in
your same message. Then the motives
which induced us to render assistance
of such a kind to Cuba disappear...

Kennedy, greeting well-wishers, a brilliant smile on his
face, is carried through the crowd toward Kenny and the doors
of the church.

RADIO MOSCOW
...it is for this reason that we
have instructed our officers -- these
missiles, as I already informed you
are in the hands of Soviet officers
to take appropriate measures to
discontinue construction, dismantle
them, and return them to the Soviet
Union.

EXT. MISSILE SITE - CUBA - DAY

the base has been half-dismantled over night. Fuel trucks
pull away, lumping down the makeshift dirt road. Across the
site missiles are lowered, their nose cones being removed.

A MISSILE on its transporter, Technicians crawling all over
it, COVERING IT with a tarp.

A massive Soviet Helicopter's rotors thunder as it lifts
off, cargo crates swaying under it, a CLOUD OF DUST FROM ITS
WASH FILLING THE SCREEN, WIPING US TO:

INT. CABINET ROOM - DAY

EXCOM laughing, celebrating, half-drunk already this Sunday
morning. The President shushes the group.

THE PRESIDENT
Hey! Hey. Okay, that's enough.

The group quiets down. The Presidents stares at them, calm,
firm. They sober up quickly. Kenny listens, expectant.

THE PRESIDENT
I don't want any gloating. This is
not a victory over the Soviets. It's
a victory with the Soviets.
(beat)
I want everyone to remember that.

INT. WEST WING HALLWAY - DAY

Kenny rounds a corner. McNamara, Bundy and McCone are talking,
excited, hushed, standing to one side, down the hall. Kenny
eyes them as he draws closer, and then they notice he's
approaching. Bundy nods him over, confidential.

BUNDY
We've been talking. We can play this
big in '64. It's the foreign policy
trophy we've been waiting.

Kenny sickens. He tries to listen, but it all begins to blur.

BUNDY
I think we can ride it all the way
home next election. Bet you're way
ahead of us, eh?

Bundy slaps Kenny on the back. Kenny is pale. Is what they're
saying possible? But Bundy and McCone are too wrapped up in
their schemes to notice Kenny's distress.

MCCONE
We've ordered crash reassessment of
our major geopolitical hotspots.
We've got a lot of new clout, and we
can run the table on the Soviets.
Middle East, Southeast Asia...

And Kenny, sad, moved beyond all pity and loathing, realizes
it is possible. They haven't gotten it. He is speechless,
helplessly shaking his head. Bundy finally sees something
isn't right with him.

MCNAMARA
What's wrong, O'Donnell?

Kenny can't speak. Can't find the words. But tongue-tied
finally manages:

KENNY
Don't you understand?

McNamara and Bundy look at him funny.

BUNDY
Understand what?

Kenny just looks at them, eyes filled with sorrow. They begin
to feel uncomfortable.

KENNY
The sun came up today.

BUNDY
Yeah.

KENNY
It shouldn't have. But it did.

MCCONE
We were lucky we were able to keep
it under control.

Kenny looks away, unable to bear it.

KENNY
Every day the sun comes up... says
something about us.

BUNDY
Says what, Kenny?

Kenny looks back at them.

KENNY
Something... amazing.

They just stare at him. And with secret smiles, superior
smiles, they nod.

MCNAMARA
Sure, Ken. I understand. Feels good
to win, doesn't it?

But they don't understand, and together turn away.

BUNDY
See you later, Kenny.

Kenny watches them, heads bowed in discussion, disappear
into the labyrinth of the West Wing. Kenny turns his back on
them.

INT. PRESIDENT'S BEDROOM - DAY

The President stands at his mirror, tying a bow tie to a tux
for some Sunday special event. Kenny gathers up his folder
from nearby breakfast table.

Kenny meets the President's gaze in the mirror, and the two
men know they have been to the same mountaintop.

THE PRESIDENT
Kenny...

A beat. Kenny stands straight, ready for action, ready for
some necessary thing. Ready to go back into the game.

THE PRESIDENT
...never mind. See you around, Kenny.

Kenny starts to leave, but at the door, turns back.

KENNY
You know...

The President looks at him in the mirror.

KENNY
...this was what we're here for.

The President smiles an ever-so-faint smile. Kenny turns and
leaves the room, vanishing, and as we HOLD on the empty
doorway, the simple, whistled melody of O'DONNELL ABOO drifts
from the hallway beyond, becoming our END MUSIC.

FADE OUT:

SUPER:

Shortly after the crisis President Kennedy ordered a
reassessment of U.S.-Soviet relations, ushering a brief thaw
in the Cold War. During this time, the Washington-Moscow
hotline was installed to ensure that in a future crisis,
miscommunication would not lead to nuclear war.

The President was assassinated on November 22nd, a year after
the crisis ended.

THE SUPER:

Bobby Kennedy ran for president in 1968. After winning the
California primary, he called Kenny from the Ambassador Hotel
in Los Angeles and told him, "I finally feel like I'm out
from under my brother's shadow."

Bobby was assassinated minutes later.

THEN SUPER:

The members of EXCOM continued to serve with distinction in
government in various capacities over the next three decades.
As Lyndon Johnson's Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara
urged containment of the Soviet threat in every theatre of
conflict around the world. He ultimately advised President
Johnson to increase the U.S. military commitment to one of
these minor backwater conflicts: Vietnam.

AND FINALLY SUPER:

Kenny O'Donnell witnessed the President's assassination from
the car behind. He went on to head the Peace Platform at the
1968 Democratic National Convention, fighting to end the
Vietnam War. He died in 1977.

THE END

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