endless series of unsatisfying couplings,rnall sadly sterile of progeny. This plot linernworked well for Stoker’s novel and thernfew vampire films that adhered to it.rnAbsent Stoker’s subtext, however,rnMurnau’s film holds little interest. Perhapsrnthat is wh’ Merhige’s deconstructionrnof it seems so oddly flat and literal. Ifrnhis real vampire is playing the part ofrnDracula, then we must accept him as arnreal bloodsucker, not a metaphor. He isrnmerel}- an ugly monster who needs humanrnblood to survive, which is exactlyrnhow Dafoe has been directed to play thernpart. He does it ver well, not onl lookingrnuncannily like Schreck but adding arnweirdly furtive intensitv to his precursor’srnperformance, hi keeping with the film’srnconceit, Merhige’s Murnau is supposedrnto have privately contracted with thisrnmonster and then held him in check tornprotect his other actors, at least for the durationrnof the filming. Finding himself deniedrnhuman prey so close at hand, Dafoernpaces back and forth in short, mincingrnsteps, glaring jerkily left and right, snufflingrnall the while like a frustrated rat.rnThere is, however, no thwarted sexual desirernin his performance. So what is thisrnabout? We’re left with an earl film directorrnso madly obsessed with authenhcifyrnthat he has no scruples about puttingrnhis cast in mortal danger. Is this an exrnpost facto plea for special effects goodrnenough to dispense with the real thing?rnWhatever Merhige’s intentions, hisrndaft litrie film is undeniably watchable.rnNot onlv do we get a beautiful tour ofrnBerlin and Bremen, but the man scenesrndepicHng Murnau directing Nosferatu alsornprovide a fairly detailed look at howrnsilent films were made.rnThirteen Days, a Kevin Costner production,rnpresents a chilling scenario withrnits vivid dramatization of the 1962 Cubanrnmissile crisis. I have only one complaint:rnIts montage of fexered White Housernmeetings, militar’ preparahons, and contemporaryrnnewsreels is so visually compellingrnthat 1 am afraid many millionsrnwill mistake its script for documentaryrntruth.rnDirector Roger Donaldson wants us tornbelieve that Jack Kennedy (Bruce Greenwood),rnhis brother Bobby (Ste’en Gulp),rnand their boyhood friend and politicalrnadvisor, Kenneth O’Donnell (KevinrnCostner), saved us from nuclear holocaustrnv’hen they faced down not only thernSoiets (who had been impolite enoughrnto put nuclear missiles in Cuba) but alsornAmerica’s military leaders, who saw thernRussian faux pas as their opportunit}’ tornbomb the bejesus out of Castro. Insteadrnof succumbing to the warmongering ofrnthe Pentagon, the Kennedys wiselyrnsteered America to a diplomatic compromise.rnAfter a few false starts, they listenedrnto Adlai Stevenson, who urged a quid prornquo: America would remove the Jupiterrnmissiles it had placed on Russia’s borderrnin Turkey, and Russia would haul its arsenalrnout of Cuba. Of course, thernKennedys being Kennedys, they insistedrnupon a face-saving proviso for their nahonrnand —not incidentallv—themselves.rnThe missile.s in Turke’ would not be removedrnuntil months after the Russianrnarms left Cuba, and there would be nornpublic acknowledgment of any linkagernbeheen the two vithdrawals.rnDonaldson presents this as a strategicallyrnbrilliant victory, but was it? WithrnSoviet anhaircraft guns firing on our U-2rnsurveillance planes, American battlernships about to fire on Russian transports,rnand armed nuclear warheads aimed atrnWashington, D.C., was Kennedy’s bidrnfor a public-rclafions coup worth the risk?rnThe missiles in Turkey, after all, were obsoleternand had been scheduled for removalrnwell before the crisis occurred.rnLater, Jack would make the puerile boast,rn”I cut Khrushchev’s nuts off —his analogyrnof choice. When his staff had expressedrnreservafions about invading thernBa’ of Pigs 18 months earlier, he hadrnmocked their fears: “Everyone’s grabbingrntheir nuts on this.” This tesficular level ofrndiscourse reveals Kennedy’s leadershiprnfor what it was: callow, unseasoned, andrnalarmingh’ impulsive.rnYou would never know this from Costrrer’srnworshipful film, of course. Donaldsonrnand his writers, Ernest R. Ma’ andrnPhilip D. Zelikow, portray Kennedy as arnman of Zen-like patience. The- havernchosen to disregard his earlier hasfy miscalculationsrnregarding Cuba, revealingrnnothing about his bumbling of the Bay ofrnPigs invasion, even though it clearly ledrnthe Soviets to believe they could get awayrnwith their missile stunt. After initiallyrnsupporting this CIA mission to help anti-rnCastro Cubans retake their homeland,rnKennedy got cold feet and tried to limitrnour involvement for fear of what wouldrnhappen to his administrafion if the riskyrnoperation failed. The decision was disastrous.rnHundreds of men died, 1,200 wererntaken prisoner, and more than 100,000rndissenters on the island were arrested.rnThe residt was a major coup for FidelrnCastro, whose popularify’ grew spectacularK’rnin its aftermath. And the Soviets becamernconvinced that Kennedy was botlirnirresolute and incompetent, a judgmentrnthat clearly emboldened their Gold Warrnambitions.rnNone of this appears in the film.rnKennedy is portrayed as a thoughtful,rnprudent world leader. We see him lookingrnsoulfully out of the Oval Officernwindow as he deliberates on the fate ofrnhumanity. This does not comport withrnthe man who reflexively analyzed hisrnforeign policy in macho argot. A fan ofrnIan Fleming’s James Bond adventures,rnKennedy seems to have had the spoiledrnchild’s need to appear tough. In crises,rnhe considered it a sign of weakness torn”grab your nuts” and “look like a bum.”rnBut, when things went wrong, he letrnothers take the fall. With only mildrnprotest, he allowed his supporters tornblame the Bay of Pigs on Dwight Eisenhower.rnTheodore Sorenson, for one, allegedrnthat the invasion plans had alreadyrngathered unstoppable momentum underrnIke and, therefore, Kennedy had no choicernbut to go along. Not so. Eisenhower hadrnmerely permitted discussion of an invasion,rnexpressing strong doubts about itsrnwisdom.rnFaced with the missile threat, Kennedy’srnapparent restraint seems to haernbeen more a case of paralysis. He didn’trnknow whom to trust. Worse, he was almostrnas concerned about appearing weakrnas he was about provoking nuclear war.rnAfter temporizing several days, he camernclose to authorizing an airstrike. By thatrntime, however, Maxwell Talor and CurtisrnLeMay felt obliged to point out thatrnthe delay had given the Soviets time to assemblernand arm the missiles. Since therernwas no certainh the first airstrike wouldrndestroy all the weapons at once, retaliationrnwas not only possible, but probable.rn(The film, of course, portrays the generalsrnas rabidly unwavering in their desirernto attack throughout the 13-day crisis, regardlessrnof changing conditions on thernground.) Kennedy dropped the machismornand went for the trade-off. The filmrnportrays his decision as the choice of arnstatesman; perhaps it was, at that moment.rnBut we must not overlook—as thernfilm .so deliberately does—that Kennedy’srncurious blend of ju’enile bravado andrncautious self-regard had brought this nationrnto such a fatal pass.rnSuggesting this, of course, would berntantamount to apo.stasy in Hollywood.rnCostner couldn’t allow inconvenientrnfacts to topple the shriire. crn50/CHRONICLESrnrnrn