(Dir. Oliver Stone) (1992)
You don’t have to read all 26 volumes of the Warren Commission Documents: the ‘Popular Library’ of New York brought out a handy compendium, where you read all about what a total nut-job Oswald was and how it seems pretty likely he shot the President from the book depository.
Enter Jack Ruby, who saved the Dallas D.A. a pile of work, and gave conspiracy theorists a golden goal. Among them: Oliver Stone, whose film of Jim Garrison’s attempt to charge someone from the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce with conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy is, much as Stone regards the Warren Report, a fabrication from start to finish.
As a film it is terrific: brilliantly directed, dazzlingly edited and put together with great passion and elan. There is a lot of scenery-chewing but the star cast is so good, and the 60s southern-fried feel is so right, interspersed as it is with real footage, that it sucks you in and you find yourself thinking that if there was a second shooter, wow! by definition, there had to be a conspiracy! But let’s calm down…assuming a second shooter, how does that = a conspiracy? When it’s highly possible, with all due respect, that more than one Texan wanted to kill Jack all by themselves, including perhaps LBJ.
Robert Hughes had a nice comment on the JFK phenomenon in Culture of Complaint: The Fraying of America: “For the young, more and more, entertainment sets educational standards and creates “truth” about the past. Millions of Americans, especially young ones, imagined that the “truth” about the Kennedy assassination resides in Oliver Stone’s vivid lying film JFK, with its paranoid elevation of a discredited New Orleans prosecutor into a political hero beset by an evil, omnipresent military establishment that murdered Kennedy to keep us in Vietnam. How many of them saw anything wrong with Stone’s frequent claim that he was “creating a counter-myth” to the Warren Commission’s findings, as though one’s knowledge of the past equated with the propagation of myth?”
Anyhow, let’s remember President Kennedy, a somewhat callow dilettante who grew in the job and did some heroic things, including staring down Khrushchev, giving civil rights a kick-start, and keeping the US out of the quagmire of S. E. Asia (for a time). Here’s a look at his Berlin speech on 26 June, 1963, courtesy of the folks at You Tube: