I was 16 years old when Kennedy was shot so I have a good solid memory from then. I was on a class trip to Valley Forge, Pa. with my civics class. When we got there we were told that the president had been shot so we immediately turned back and were sent home. As I was walking home I was greeted by an excited friend of mine with his arms raging and flailing in the air saying, “They shot the president and governor. They’re trying to kill off the whole damn government,”
That week-end I was glued to the TV set and when Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby on Sunday it became a lifelong obsession with me. I still to this day have the newspaper articles about it, I have the original Life magazine with Oswald on the cover holding his rifle and Marxist propaganda papers in his hand and the Saturday Evening Post with a Norman Rockwell like painting of Kennedy on the cover. I’ve read and still have the Mark Lane Book and LP record “Rush to Judgment” and the Robert Sam Anson book “They’ve Killed the President”. I also must be the only owner of a VHS video interview with a man named James Fields in prison who claims to have been the other shooter in the assassination called “Interview With an Assassin” He has since passed away. So it was with great interest that I naturally view the movie” Killing Kennedy” on the National Geographic channel based on the book by Bill O’Reilly which I am also currently reading.
The movie was directed by Ridley Scott who is best known for films like “Blade Runner”, “Thelma and Louise” and many others. I was very much surprised that the film struck straight to the facts. No loosely based story or taking liberties like so many supposedly true movies do today. It was like you were actually viewing history as it happened.
Rob Lowe portrays Kennedy and they do a remarkable job of making him look exactly like Kennedy even sounding like him. The last time I saw Kennedy portrayed so exactly was William Devane in “The Guns of August” back in the 70’s about the Cuban missile crisis. Killing Kennedy is interspersed with actual film clips from then with Walter Cronkite and Chet Huntley among others. New actress Ginnefer Goodwin plays Jackie and also looks and talks just like her. They have everything exact down to the slightest detail including her famous pink dress that later becomes blood splattered and matching pill box hat.
Another new actor Will Rothaar plays Oswald and Michelle Trachtenberg (who I remember from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series) plays Marina Oswald. These two characters are hard to get look-alikes for, but the film does a remarkable job. They even have Oswald posing in the exact same position of holding his rifle and marxist propaganda papers in his hand and him shooting General Walker (who was an outspoken anti-communist speaker) through his window and missing.
The film doesn’t delve into any conspiracy theories and sticks straight to the facts which makes it interesting and fast moving. In reading O’Reilly’s book he describes a scene with Jack Kennedy in the white house swimming pool with two lovely ladies when Jackie walks in on him just stares and walks away while a secret service agent tries to stop her. I was surprised to see this scene in there also done so exactly. O’Reilly’s book does delve into Kennedy’s sexual prowness and the secret service covering up for him with Jackie and the fact that Jackie knew but, never said anything. I thought the movie was done perfectly and I remembered every incident portrayed so accurately in it. The only thing they didn’t show was Gov. Connolly turning to Jack in the car right before he was killed and saying that now famous quote, ”Well Mr. President you can’t say Dallas doesn‘t love you today.”
I’ve read most of the conspiracy theories over the years all of which are interesting, some more plausible than others and naturally the further away you get from such incidents it is easier to imagine more things happened than really did. The only question I have is how does a guy like Oswald who was known for missing the targets on the shooting range while in the marines and misses a general right outside his window with a rifle with a scope on it suddenly pull off the crime of the century with a moving target and a rifle not known for its’ accuracy and handling? We’ll probably never know and can only speculate.
Many reviewers are saying the movie lacks authenticity and lackluster.I guess these reviewers are so into seeing emotion and characterization in movies today or weren’t around when it happened to notice that this is not a so called docudrama, but an a actual,accurate depiction of real events. To those critics I say “Life is not always like the movies you know.” If you get a chance to see Killing Kennedy on cable or DVD then by all means do so. In the meantime check out the link below for some scenes from the movie. I also have a link lto Mark Lane’s film Rush to Judgement which shows actual interviews with Oswald and the Dallas police. I report you decide.