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As my colleague Daniel Cullen mentioned to me, Thirteen Days is especially deserving of criticism on these large matters because it is so scrupulously accurate on the small ones. The thin ties and horn-rimmed glasses the actors wear, the tail-finned cars they drive, the physical gestures they make, even their rotary-dial phones and transistor radios are all dead-on perfect. Black-and-white establishing scenes and actual excerpts from Walter Cronkite’s live television reports on the crisis further contribute to the movie’s verisimilitude. This is the way it really was, the filmmakers implicitly promise with those fine points: Just look at McNamara’s slicked-back hair. It’s all the more distressing, then, when we discover that in several important respects this isn’t the way it was at all. The film’s web site offers related primary documents, in addition to information on the making of the film.

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