JFK (1991)

R | 189 mins | Drama, Biography | 20 December 1991

Full page view
HISTORY

The Summary and credits for this entry were based on a “Director’s Cut” home video version containing seventeen minutes of additional footage, and therefore may not accurately represent the theatrical release.
       The following quote appears in opening credits: “To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men. – Ella Wheeler Wilcox.”
       End credits are preceded by the following written statements: “In 1979, Richard Helms, Director of Covert Operations in 1963, admitted under oath that Clay Shaw had worked for the CIA. Clay Shaw died in 1974 of lung cancer. No autopsy was allowed. In 1978, Jim Garrison was elected Judge of the Louisiana State Court of Appeals in New Orleans. He was re-elected in 1988. To this date, he has brought the only public prosecution in the Kennedy killing”; “Southeast Asia: 2 million Asian lives lost, 58,000 American lives lost, $220 billion spent, 10 million Americans air-lifted there by commercial aircraft, more than 5,000 helicopters lost, 6 ½ million tons of bombs dropped”; “A Congressional Investigation from 1976-1979 found a ‘probable conspiracy’ in the assassination of John F. Kennedy and recommended the Justice Department investigate further. As of 1991, the Justice Department has done nothing. The files of the House Select Committee on Assassinations are locked away until the year 2029”; “What is past is prologue”; “Dedicated to the young in whose spirit the search for truth marches on.” The home video contains the following addendum: “As a result of this film, Congress in 1992 passed legislation to appoint a panel to review all files and determine which ones would be made available to the American public.
       End credits also contain the following acknowledgments: “Archival ... More Less

The Summary and credits for this entry were based on a “Director’s Cut” home video version containing seventeen minutes of additional footage, and therefore may not accurately represent the theatrical release.
       The following quote appears in opening credits: “To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men. – Ella Wheeler Wilcox.”
       End credits are preceded by the following written statements: “In 1979, Richard Helms, Director of Covert Operations in 1963, admitted under oath that Clay Shaw had worked for the CIA. Clay Shaw died in 1974 of lung cancer. No autopsy was allowed. In 1978, Jim Garrison was elected Judge of the Louisiana State Court of Appeals in New Orleans. He was re-elected in 1988. To this date, he has brought the only public prosecution in the Kennedy killing”; “Southeast Asia: 2 million Asian lives lost, 58,000 American lives lost, $220 billion spent, 10 million Americans air-lifted there by commercial aircraft, more than 5,000 helicopters lost, 6 ½ million tons of bombs dropped”; “A Congressional Investigation from 1976-1979 found a ‘probable conspiracy’ in the assassination of John F. Kennedy and recommended the Justice Department investigate further. As of 1991, the Justice Department has done nothing. The files of the House Select Committee on Assassinations are locked away until the year 2029”; “What is past is prologue”; “Dedicated to the young in whose spirit the search for truth marches on.” The home video contains the following addendum: “As a result of this film, Congress in 1992 passed legislation to appoint a panel to review all files and determine which ones would be made available to the American public.
       End credits also contain the following acknowledgments: “Archival footage provided by: Zapruder Film: ‘Copyright 1967’ by LMH Company. All rights reserved; NBC News Archives; CBS News; UCLA Film and Television Archive; The Family of Orville O. Nix; Sherman Grindberg Film Libraries; Southern Methodist University thru its Southwest Film/Video Archives; National Archives; Cartoon clip courtesy of Warner Bros.”; “Special thanks to: Manierre Dawson paintings loaned by Timothy A. Foley/Tilden-Foley Gallery, New Orleans, LA; National Park Service, National Capital Region and United States Park Police; Vintage radio and police equipment provided by Ken Scott Communications, St. Ignatius, Montana; Michael W. Proscia; Julie Shapiro, Travelcorps; University of North Texas; and the people of Dallas and New Orleans”; “Filmed on location in New Orleans, Dallas and Washington D.C.”
       Sherman Grinberg Film Libraries is misidentified as “Sherman Grindberg Film Libraries” in the aforementioned acknowledgments.
       According to a 15 Dec 1991 LAT article, writer-director Oliver Stone’s interest in John F. Kennedy’s assassination was piqued in 1988 when he attended a film festival in Cuba. There, he met Ellen Ray, publisher of Covert Action Information Bulletin, who urged him to read On the Trail of the Assassins (New York, 1988) by Jim Garrison, former New Orleans, Louisiana, District Attorney and then judge in Louisiana’s 4th Circuit Court of Appeal. Stone was fascinated by the book, which chronicled Garrison’s investigation of Kennedy’s assassination and his indictment of Clay Shaw as part of a conspiracy to kill the president. Stone also optioned Jim Marrs’s Crossfire – The Plot That Killed Kennedy (New York, 1989), and teamed with Zachary Sklar to begin writing a script. The two approached the story of Kennedy’s assassination through Jim Garrison’s investigation, making “Jim Garrison” the central character; however, they incorporated up-to-date research that Garrison did not have access to in the late 1960s, and therefore took dramatic license by altering his findings and some real-life events, including Garrison’s closing argument in the trial of Clay Shaw. They also created composite characters like “Mr. X,” who was largely based on Fletcher Prouty, a former aide to the Joint Chiefs of Staff during President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration. Nevertheless, Stone was quoted in a 25 Feb 1991 DV article as saying they had not taken too many creative liberties because the material was “very important and sacred to the public.”
       In 1989, Stone took the project to Warner Bros. executives Terry Semel, Bob Daly, and Bill Gerber, and made a “handshake deal” with the studio in which Warner Bros. agreed to finance the project for $20 million. Stone later commented that better deals could have been struck in the international market, but he chose to sell the project to a single entity because it was “dangerous” material that he did not want circulating around. Stone also trusted Warner Bros., based on its history of producing controversial political films, including All the President’s Men The Parallax View and The Killing Fields (1976, 1974, and 1984, see entries). Israeli financier Arnon Milchan’s Regency Enterprises came on to the project with additional funds, and the budget doubled to $40 million. Canal Plus also came in as a co-financier, as noted in the 25 Feb 1991 DV, but Warner Bros. retained worldwide distribution rights.
       A 12 Apr 1991 Publishers Weekly item announced Warner Books had acquired mass market rights to Garrison’s book, On the Trail of the Assassins, for $137,500. A paperback version was set to be re-titled JFK and released concurrently with the picture. On 20 Jul 1992, the screenplay was also published, in a volume containing research notes and production stills, by Applause Books, under the title JFK: The Book of the Film: The Documented Screenplay, as noted in an 8 Jun 1992 Var review.
       According to an article in the Nov 1991 issue of Esquire, the film was referred to as Project X during pre-production, and was generally shrouded in secrecy. Scripts were numbered and “kept under lock and key,” and Stone allegedly had the production office swept for bugs.
       Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Jeff Bridges, Michael Keaton, and Dennis Quaid were rumored to be considered for the role of “Jim Garrison,” although Stone was quoted in the 15 Dec 1991 LAT as saying Kevin Costner had always been his first choice. Several contemporary sources, including the 15 Dec 1991 LAT, pointed out that Costner did not closely resemble his real-life counterpart, who had a reputation for being “flamboyant” and “quick of mouth.” Stone admittedly veered from depicting those qualities in favor of having an understated and morally simplistic main character to anchor the film.
       JFK was said to cost between $35 and $40 million, with an additional $15 million spent on promotion. Costner was reportedly paid $7 million and a percentage of box-office receipts. Cameo actors, including Jack Lemmon and Ed Asner, were said to have received $50,000 each for one or two weeks’ work, as noted in a 7 Jun 1991 DV “Just for Variety” column.
       Although an 11 Jan 1991 Screen International item listed James Woods and Charlie Sheen as part of the cast, the actors did not appear in the final film. Charlie Sheen’s father, Martin Sheen, provided voice-over narration but was not credited onscreen. The role of Jim Garrison’s mother was to be played by Angela Lansbury, as noted in a 31 May 1991 DV “Just for Variety” brief, but Lansbury’s scenes became too expensive and were cut from the film. Glenn Ford also dropped out of the picture, according to the 17 May 1991 DV, due to a surgery. As noted in a 13 Jan 1992 People brief, actor John Larroquette played talk show host “Jerry Johnson” in a scene that was cut from the theatrical version; however, it was included in the director’s cut released on home video in 1993.
       Principal photography began in Dallas, TX, on 15 Apr 1991, as stated in production notes and the 16 Apr 1991 HR production chart. The first ten days of shooting took place in Dealey Plaza, the site of President Kennedy’a assassination. As reported in an 18 Apr 1991 NYT brief, Stone’s request to film inside the Texas School Book Depository was rejected three times by the Dallas County Commissioner. The sixth floor room where Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy had been turned into a museum, and the Commission argued that filming would disrupt the exhibit and potentially hurt the city’s image. The Dallas County Historical Foundation came to Stone’s defense, and helped overturn the decision. Filmmakers reportedly paid $50,000 to shoot there. Other Dallas locations included the police headquarters where Lee Harvey Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby, the Texas Theater where Oswald was arrested, and the neighborhood in which Oswald killed police officer J.D. Tippit. After six weeks in Dallas, filming moved to New Orleans, LA, where locations included the Criminal Courts Building where Clay Shaw was tried in 1969. Filming was also set to take place in Washington, D.C., as noted in the 25 Feb 1991 DV.
       Principal photography concluded on 31 Jul 1991. Post-production was rushed to accommodate a 20 Dec 1991 release date, according to a 10 Oct 1991 LAT news item. Stone reportedly worked eighteen-hour days, seven days a week, to have the film ready in time for at least 800 prints to be struck by the opening date. The running time was initially three-and-a-half-hours, plus an intermission, but was reduced to three hours and nine minutes.
       As reported in several contemporary sources including the 24 Jun 1991 LAT and Nov 1991 Esquire, an early version of the shooting script was leaked to the press. Despite letters sent by Oliver Stone’s lawyers, threatening legal action against anyone who revealed the script’s contents, articles were published in the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, and Time magazine, decrying the film’s factual inaccuracies and questionable sources. The Washington Post piece by George Lardner, Jr., who had reported on Jim Garrison’s investigation in the 1960s, included a “point-by-point refutation” of the film’s thesis, while Jon Margolis of the Chicago Tribune accused Stone of being “a man who sees conspiracies everywhere.” Jim Garrison was routinely discredited as an unreliable source, as in the Time article, which described him as “somewhere near the far-out fringe of conspiracy theorists” and accused Stone of buying his theories “wholesale.” In response, Stone acknowledged Garrison’s “hubris” and “King Lear arrogance,” but praised his “argument and courage.” The Nov 1991 Esquire article written by Robert Sam Anson accused Stone of trusting questionable sources other than Garrison, including Fletcher Prouty (“Mr. X”), nightclub performer Beverly Oliver, and Larry Howard, founder of the JFK Assassination Information Center, whose claims (including having a congratulatory letter President Lyndon B. Johnson wrote to Kennedy’s assassin) were generally considered outrageous. Stone was said to have paid $80,000 to Howard’s research center. He also allegedly paid $25,000 to Marita Lorenz, who claimed to be a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operative and mistress of Fidel Castro; Lorenz later accused him of failing to pay the full $200,000 he had promised her for a two-year option deal, and using her material without permission in both JFK and the upcoming Nixon (1995, see entry), as noted in a 17 Mar 1995 DV article.
       Other detractors of the film, based on the leaked script, included Tom Wicker of NYT and Dan Rather of CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System) News, as stated in a 20 Dec 1991 NYT article. Stone personally responded to the backlash by writing several articles, including pieces in the 2 Jun 1991 Washington Post, 20 Dec 1991 NYT, 24 Dec 1991 Washington Post, and 6 Jan 1992 LAT, in which he supplied research and facts to bolster the conspiracy set forth in JFK. The Nov 1991 Esquire quoted a controversial interview Stone gave the New Orleans Times-Picayune in which he accused the press of being “asleep for twenty-eight years” and called George Lardner, Jr. “a CIA agent-journalist.” Stone also defended the dramatic license he had taken by saying, “This isn’t history, this is moviemaking.” Referring to Akira Kurosawa’s 1951 film, Rashomon, which presents contradictory versions of one incident, Stone claimed he took a “‘Rashomon’ approach” to telling the story of the assassination, which left audience members to make up their own minds.
       Gay rights activists also responded to the leaked script by expressing concern over the portrayal of homosexual characters as “bad guys” and “totally bizarre,” as noted in a 6 Dec 1991 LAT article. Stone responded by allowing the activists to view the film four days prior to theatrical release.
       Other criticisms leveled against Stone prior to release included rumors that he had quashed competing projects, including a film titled Libra that was to be directed by Phil Joanou. Stone denied the accusations, and, in a 7 Nov 1991 NYT article, Phil Joanou was quoted as saying he had spoken with Stone about the project, but Stone had not done anything to stop it. HBO Pictures was interested in producing Libra at one time, but the company, which was owned by Time Warner, chose not to compete with JFK, produced by its sister company, Warner Bros. Joni Sighvatsson, producer of a competing project about Jack Ruby, titled Ruby (1992, see entry), stated Stone used his influence to deny Sighvatsson’s crew access to “important Dallas locations” and local actors until JFK had been released. Stone responded to the “cry baby sources” making such accusations by arguing that the film industry is inherently competitive.
       To combat negative publicity, Washington, D.C., public relations executive Frank Mankiewicz was hired. The 7 Nov 1991 NYT stated that Stone had traveled to Washington, D.C., the previous week for a dinner with reporters from the NYT, Washington Post, People magazine, and CBS.
       The world premiere took place 17 Dec 1991, as noted in a 19 Dec 1991 LAT brief. The event raised $250,000 for Rock the Vote, a non-profit organization promoting youth voting and voter registration. A Dallas premiere took place two days later on 19 Dec 1991, and benefitted the Dallas Children’s Health Project, the Children’s Health Fund, and the Film Commission of North Texas, as noted in a 6 Dec 1991 HR brief.
       Critical reception was mixed. Controversy over the subject matter persisted, despite several positive reviews, including those in the 20 Dec 1991 LAT and 16 Dec 1991 Var. A 24 Dec 1991 NYT article quoted “several studio chiefs,” anonymously as saying they were upset over Warner Bros.’ presentation of the film “as truth,” instead of clarifying that it represented Stone’s interpretation of the truth. Warner Bros. responded by issuing a statement defending free speech and describing the film as “a suspense drama.”
       A damning editorial by George F. Will in the 24 Dec 1991 LAT argued that Stone “falsifies so much he may be an intellectual sociopath” and called the film “an act of execrable history and contemptible citizenship.” Meanwhile, former Texas governor John Connally, who was shot by Kennedy’s assassins while riding in the motorcade, accused Stone of going “too far” by implicating the Secret Service, CIA, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), military, and mafia in the assassination, as noted in a 25 Dec 1991 LAT “Morning Report” column; however, Connally did agree with Stone that the “single bullet theory” was inaccurate. Asked to comment on the film, President George H. Bush, a former director of the CIA, was quoted in the 3 Jan 1992 LAT as saying, “I have seen no evidence that gives me any reason to believe that the Warren Commission was wrong.” Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) chief executive Jack Valenti waited three months after the film opened to issue a statement condemning JFK as “a ‘hoax,’ a ‘smear’ and ‘pure fiction,’” as noted in a 2 Apr 1992 NYT. A former aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson, Valenti claimed to have had read “every paper that crossed the President’s desk,” and compared Stone’s film to the Nazi propaganda films of Leni Riefenstahl. Stone responded by calling Valenti’s diatribe “emotional” and “off the mark.”
       Pat Dowell, the longtime film critic for Washingtonian magazine, resigned when editor Jack Limpert refused to publish her positive review of JFK, which awarded it three-and-a-half out of four stars. Limpert stated that the film’s premise was “bizarre...crackpot, preposterous,” and that Dowell’s review “suffered from bad writing,” according to the 27 Jan 1992 LAT. The National Society of Film Critics spoke out in support of Dowell, as noted in a 1 Feb 1992 LAT item, and condemned Limpert’s decision to pull the review. Kevin Costner reportedly called Dowell to show his support, as well. A 3 Feb 1992 LAT brief later noted that Jayne Blanchard, Dowell’s replacement at the Washingtonian, also gave the film a positive review with three-and-a-half stars.
       A 9 Jan 1992 Newsday brief stated that Stone was set to speak before the National Press Club on 15 Jan 1992 in Washington, D.C., to address ongoing criticisms. A “town hall” meeting, titled “Hollywood and History: The Debate Over ‘JFK,’” was held in New York City on 3 Mar 1992, with a panel including Stone and writers Norman Mailer, Nora Ephron, Edward J. Epstein and Christopher Hitchens, as reported in the 5 Mar 1992 LAT. With an audience of 1,500, Stone answered criticisms and debated the substance of his film with Epstein and Hitchens, who offered opposing views, and Mailer and Ephron, who were largely in support of Stone.
       The film grossed $5.1 million in 1,164 theaters in its opening weekend, which the 24 Dec 1991 NYT noted was “a bit disappointing.” However, ticket sales were expected to be lower due to the long running time. Three months later, the 2 Apr 1992 NYT reported box-office earnings of $68 million, to date, with strong overseas ticket sales anticipated.
       JFK won Academy Awards for Cinematography and Film Editing, and received the following Academy Award nominations: Actor in a Supporting Role (Tommy Lee Jones), Directing, Music (Original Score), Sound, Writing (Screenplay Based on Material Previously Published or Produced), and Best Picture. Oliver Stone won a Golden Globe Award for Best Director – Motion Picture, and the film received the following Golden Globe nominations: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama (Kevin Costner), Best Screenplay – Motion Picture, and Best Motion Picture – Drama.
       According to a 30 Jan 1992 LAT brief, the movie prompted a press conference at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), at which Warren Commission attorneys and staff members presented a proposal “calling for the release of sealed documents and evidence relating to the Kennedy assassination.” The 12 Feb 1992 LAT later reported that the White House, Congress, and the National Archives had received a deluge of letters and phone calls, asking that the Warren Commission’s records be made available. The article reported that a recent poll had found 72% of Americans did not believe the public was told the “whole truth” about the Kennedy assassination, and 73% believed Kennedy was killed as a result of a conspiracy. The House of Representatives and Senate eventually passed a bill to open government files related to the assassination, as noted in a 5 Oct 1992 Var, which stated President George H. Bush was expected to sign the measure within ten days. The resulting President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 states all documents related to the assassination will be released to the public by 2017.
       A 28 Apr 1992 Newsday item reported Oliver Stone hired Barbara Kopple to direct a companion documentary, titled Beyond JFK: The Question of Conspiracy, which would be partly funded by Warner Bros. The documentary was included in a 2003 “Special Edition” home video release of the film. American Movie Classics (AMC) also produced a documentary about the film for its Backstory series, titled Backstory: JFK, that debuted 25 Feb 2002 on the AMC channel.
       The estate of the late Jim Garrison sued “virtually the entire movie industry,” as reported in an 18 Nov 1995 LAT article, over “net profits” accounting issues on JFK and throughout Hollywood in general. Garrison’s estate claimed it had not received net profit participation payments from Warner Bros., despite JFK having earned more than $200 million in cumulative box-office grosses. The case was filed as a class-action lawsuit, accusing every major Hollywood studio of “price-fixing and breach of contract” in an effort to avoid paying net profit participants. A 27 May 1998 LAT news item stated that U.S. District Judge Robert Takasugi found the lawsuit lacked “class-action status”; however, the Garrison estate was allowed to proceed with suing Warner Bros. A 9 Apr 1999 HR article reported the Garrison estate won a “very small settlement,” with each of Garrison’s five children receiving “a tiny fraction of what they originally sought.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Hollywood Reporter
16 Dec 1991
p. 7, 22.
Los Angeles Times
20 Dec 1991
p. 1.
New York Times
20 Dec 1991
p. 1.
Variety
16 Dec 1991
p. 57, 81.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Pruitt Taylor Vince
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Warner Bros. presents
In association with Le Studio Canal+,
Regency Enterprises,
and Alcor Films
An Ixtlan Corporation
and an A. Kitman Ho production
An Oliver Stone film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
1st asst B cam
2d asst B cam
Loader
Video assist
Steadicam op
Still photog
Addl op
Video playback
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Chief lighting tech
Asst lighting tech
Rigging gaffer
Technocrane op
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Art dept coord, Dallas
Art dept coord, New Orleans
Graphics
FILM EDITORS
Addl ed
Assoc ed
Post prod supv
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutting
Post prod intern
Post prod intern
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Set dressing lead, Dallas
Set dressing lead, New Orleans
On-set dresser
On-set dresser
Asst set dec
Asst set dec
Asst set dec
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Prop master
Props
Const coord
Const foreman
Const foreman
Const shop mgr
Lead scenic artist
Scenic artist
Master sign writer, Dallas
Stand-by painter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Asst cost supv
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
MUSIC
Exec mus prod
Re-rec mixer
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Utility sd
Sd mixer, Dealey Plaza
ADR supv
ADR ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
Addl audio
Addl audio
Addl audio
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Dubbing ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Machine op
Machine op
Sd ed by
Archival sd restoration by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Opt supv
Titles and opticals by
MAKEUP
Key hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Key makeup
Makeup
Makeup
Hair & makeup for Ms. Spacek
Spec prosthetic eff
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Comptroller
Prod coord
Tech asst to Mr. Stone
Scr supv
Res coord
Res asst
Casting assoc
Casting assoc
Casting assoc
Casting assoc
Loc casting, Dallas
Casting asst, Dallas
Loc casting, New Orleans
Casting asst, New Orleans
Casting asst, New Orleans
Casting asst, New York
Extras casting, Dallas
Asst prod coord, Dallas
Asst prod coord, New Orleans
Prod secy
Prod secy
L. A. office mgr
Loc auditor
Asst auditor
Asst auditor
Asst auditor
Naijo no ko
Asst to Mr. Stone
Asst to Mr. Ho
Asst to Mr. Costner
Asst to Mr. Milchan
Loc mgr, Dallas
Loc mgr, Dallas
Loc mgr, New Orleans
Loc mgr, Washington, D. C.
Asst loc mgr, Dallas
Asst loc mgr, New Orleans
Site coord, Dealey Plaza
Unit pub
Producers' representative
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Gang boss
Gang boss
Loc catering by
Craft service
Mr. Oldman's dial coach
Dial coach
Dial coach
Dial coach
Prod physician
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt, New Orleans
Picture car coord, New Orleans
A.F.I. intern
Prod equip by
Tech adv and re-enactment consultant
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
STAND INS
John F. Kennedy - double
Jackie Kennedy - double
Nellie Connally - double
Gov. Connally - double
Stand-in for Mr. Costner
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col timer
Answer print timing
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the books On the Trail of Assassins by Jim Garrison (New York, 1988) and Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy by Jim Marrs (New York, 1989).
SONGS
“Drummers’ Salute,” arranged by D. G. McCroskie, performed by The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, courtesy of Fiesta Records Co. Inc.
“TV Jam,” written and performed by Tom Hajdu and Andy Milburn, courtesy of tomandandy Music
“Francis Blues,” written and performed by Sidney Bechet, courtesy of Vogue Records
+
SONGS
“Drummers’ Salute,” arranged by D. G. McCroskie, performed by The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, courtesy of Fiesta Records Co. Inc.
“TV Jam,” written and performed by Tom Hajdu and Andy Milburn, courtesy of tomandandy Music
“Francis Blues,” written and performed by Sidney Bechet, courtesy of Vogue Records
“Muskrat Ramble,” written by Edward Ory and Ray Gilbert, performed by “Dr. Henry Levine’s Barefoot Dixieland Philharmonic,” courtesy of RCA Records, label of BMG Music
“Small Dark Clouds,” written and performed by Ed Tomney
“On the Sunny Side of the Street,” written by Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh, performed by Sidney Bechet, courtesy of da music/Black Lion
“Scratch My Hide,” written and performed by Brent Lewis, from the recording: Earth Tribe Rhythms, courtesy of Ikauma Records
“Tribal Consciousness,” written and performed by Brent Lewis, from the recording: Earth Tribe Rhythms, courtesy of Ikauma Records
“Ode To Buckwheat,” written and performed by Brent Lewis, from the recording: Earth Tribe Rhythms, courtesy of Ikauma Records
“A Stranger On Earth,” written by Side Feller and Rick Ward, performed by Dinah Washington, courtesy of Capitol Records, by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
“”El Watusi,” written and performed by Ray Barretto, courtesy of Tico Records/Sonido Inc.
“Cubanito,” written by Luis Pla, performed by Valladres y Su Conjunto, courtesy of Kubaney Publ. Corp.
“My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It,” written by Clarence Williams, performed by Jim Robinson, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“Maybe September,” written by Percy Faith, Jay Livingston, and Ray Evans, performed by Tony Bennett, courtesy of Columbia Records, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
“Tequila,” written by Chuck Rio, produced by Barry Fasman
“Kokyo,” written by Leonard Eto, performed by Kodo, courtesy of Sony Records, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
“Concerto No. 2 For Horn & Orchestra, K. 417
1 – Allegro Maestoso,” written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, performed by Dale Clevenger, Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, Janos Rolla, leader, courtesy of Sony Classical, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Project X
Release Date:
20 December 1991
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 17 December 1991
Los Angeles and New York openings: 20 December 1991
Production Date:
15 April--31 July 1991
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, Inc., Regency Enterprises VOF, Le Studio Canal
Copyright Date:
13 April 1992
Copyright Number:
PA562031
Physical Properties:
Sound
Spectral recording Dolby Stereo SR™ in selected theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
189
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31561
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In his 1961 farewell address to the nation, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned citizens against the increasing influence of the military-industrial complex. After winning one of the closest presidential elections in U.S. history, President John F. Kennedy inherited a secret war against Cuba, which culminated in the Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961. Kennedy privately claimed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had tried to manipulate him into waging an all-out war, but he did not. The October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis ensued, and when Kennedy negotiated a deal with Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev, some accused him of taking a “soft” position on Communism. Kennedy gave a speech promoting peace and a new attitude toward the Soviet Union at American University in Washington, D.C. He also believed that the U.S. military needed to pull out of the Vietnam War. On November 22, 1963, Kennedy is shot during a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. In New Orleans, Louisiana, District Attorney Jim Garrison watches in shock as a television news reporter confirms Kennedy has died. In the same bar as Garrison, a private detective named W. Guy Bannister drunkenly tells his friend, Jack Martin, that the president’s death is good riddance. That day, Lee Harvey Oswald is arrested. Oswald, said to be a Marxist and supporter of Fidel Castro, is suspected of shooting Kennedy from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository where he was an employee. Jim Garrison begins to investigate possible New Orleans connections to the assassination, including David W. Ferrie, a former pilot linked to Oswald. Garrison has Ferrie detained for questioning by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), but he is soon let ... +


In his 1961 farewell address to the nation, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned citizens against the increasing influence of the military-industrial complex. After winning one of the closest presidential elections in U.S. history, President John F. Kennedy inherited a secret war against Cuba, which culminated in the Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961. Kennedy privately claimed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had tried to manipulate him into waging an all-out war, but he did not. The October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis ensued, and when Kennedy negotiated a deal with Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev, some accused him of taking a “soft” position on Communism. Kennedy gave a speech promoting peace and a new attitude toward the Soviet Union at American University in Washington, D.C. He also believed that the U.S. military needed to pull out of the Vietnam War. On November 22, 1963, Kennedy is shot during a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. In New Orleans, Louisiana, District Attorney Jim Garrison watches in shock as a television news reporter confirms Kennedy has died. In the same bar as Garrison, a private detective named W. Guy Bannister drunkenly tells his friend, Jack Martin, that the president’s death is good riddance. That day, Lee Harvey Oswald is arrested. Oswald, said to be a Marxist and supporter of Fidel Castro, is suspected of shooting Kennedy from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository where he was an employee. Jim Garrison begins to investigate possible New Orleans connections to the assassination, including David W. Ferrie, a former pilot linked to Oswald. Garrison has Ferrie detained for questioning by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), but he is soon let go for lack of evidence. Meanwhile, two days after the president is killed, a man named Jack Ruby shoots Lee Harvey Oswald, allegedly in retaliation for killing Kennedy. With Oswald dead, the investigation of Kennedy’s assassination is left to the Warren Commission, appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Jim Garrison drops his investigation until three years later, when the commission releases the “Warren Report,” containing its findings that both Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby acted alone. While his wife, Liz Garrison, frets over her husband’s obsession with the Kennedy assassination, Jim reads the entire twenty-six-volume report and is infuriated by its inconsistencies. He resumes his own investigation, with help from colleagues in the DA office. He speaks with Louisiana Senator Russell B. Long, who does not believe the gunshots that killed Kennedy were fired from the book depository, or that Oswald had the necessary rifleman skills. Jim investigates claims of bystanders who saw flashes of light and heard gunshots coming from a grassy knoll area along the motorcade route. He discovers Lee Harvey Oswald once passed out pro-Castro leaflets stamped with the address of private detective W. Guy Bannister, who was known for his anti-Castro politics. Although Bannister is now dead, Jim tracks down his former colleague, Jack Martin, who reveals Bannister was running “Operation Mongoose” for the CIA, which entailed stockpiling arms and training foot soldiers for another invasion of Cuba. Before his death, Kennedy had ordered the FBI to shut down the operation, but it continued. Martin confirms Oswald was in cahoots with Bannister. He also names Clay Bertrand as an accomplice. Jim gets the name of a male prostitute named Willie O’Keefe and visits him in prison. O’Keefe recalls meeting Clay Bertrand, a wealthy, homosexual man, in June 1962. Bertrand paid O’Keefe for sex, and introduced him to friends, including David Ferrie and Lee Harvey Oswald. O’Keefe was present during a conversation in which Ferrie suggested they kill Kennedy and blame the assassination on Fidel Castro. He described a “triangulation” plan in which shooters were set up in three areas around a motorcade. Jim seeks out other witnesses named in the Warren Report, including a railroad worker named Lee Bowers. However, Bowers has since died in a suspicious car accident. Rose Cheramie, a prostitute who linked Oswald to Jack Ruby, was also killed in a hit and run. Jim studies Oswald’s history and discovers that he joined the U.S. Marines at age seventeen, learned Russian, and was stationed at a secret air base in Japan. He was discharged to visit his sick mother, then renounced his citizenship to become a Soviet citizen. While living there, he met and married a woman named Marina whose uncle was a Soviet intelligence agent. Oswald may have traded intelligence that thwarted a peace summit between Nikita Khruschev and President Eisenhower. Oswald and Marina returned to the U.S. with a loan from the U.S. government, and Oswald was never questioned about his activities in the U.S.S.R. Jim deduces that Oswald must have been working as a U.S. intelligence agent. He meets with witnesses who claim they saw shots fired from the grassy knoll on the day of Kennedy’s assassination. One woman claims she identified Jack Ruby as a suspect, but her statement was misrepresented in the Warren Report. Another woman who heard six gunshots recalls being reprimanded by a Secret Service agent, who told her it was impossible she heard more than three. Soon, Jack Ruby, who allegedly had links to the mob as well as Oswald, dies in prison. Jim learns that Clay Bertrand’s real name is Clay Shaw. He arranges a meeting with Shaw on Easter. Liz implores Jim to drop his work and spend time with their children instead, but Jim disappoints her by not showing up at a restaurant. When Jim’s investigation is made public, he is hounded by the press for misappropriating taxpayer money. Moving forward, he uses personal finances. David Ferrie reaches out to Jim, paranoid that he has become a target of the CIA and the mob. He claims both were behind Operation Mongoose. He suggests Kennedy’s assassination was a conspiracy at the highest levels of government, and even the shooters were unaware who arranged it. Audio surveillance devices are found in Jim’s office. Soon after, David Ferrie is found dead, along with two suicide notes. Jim suspects he might have been murdered with a fatal dose of thyroid medication. He travels to Washington, D.C., to meet a secret contact who identifies himself as “X.” The man reveals he was a soldier who worked in the Pentagon’s secret “black ops” division. He recalls Kennedy angered government officials with his refusal to invade Cuba in 1962. Kennedy’s plans to extract the U.S. military from the Vietnam War also upset government and private sectors of the military-industrial complex. Despite being a top operative, X was sent to the South Pole at the time of Kennedy’s assassination. He claims Lee Harvey Oswald was named as a suspect in international news reports too soon after the assassination, as if reporters had been tipped off too early. Also, extra military forces that normally would have been brought to Dallas for the motorcade were told to stand down despite protests from their unit commander. X believes that all signs point to black ops activity, and notes that, within days of Kennedy’s death, President Johnson reversed Kennedy’s Vietnam withdrawal policy, preserving defense contracts worth $100 billion. Despite concerns that he does not have a strong enough case, Jim arrests Clay Shaw. Liz worries for the family’s safety as people begin prank calling the Garrison house. Although she threatens to leave him, Jim refuses to back down. He is nearly killed at an airport when colleague Bill Broussard, who has secretly turned informant for the FBI, sets him up. Senator Robert F. Kennedy is shot, and Jim admits to Liz that he is afraid for his life. Clay Shaw’s trial begins. After witnesses testify to seeing shooters on the grassy knoll, Jim shows film of Kennedy’s assassination shot by Abraham Zapruder, who was standing by the grassy knoll. He argues that more than three bullets must have been shot from different angles, and that Oswald could not have accomplished the assassination alone. He refutes the “magic bullet theory,” in which one of three bullets shot by Oswald was said to have entered and exited Kennedy’s body, then entered Texas Governor John Connally’s body at three different points. A doctor who performed Kennedy’s autopsy testifies that an unnamed man stopped him from doing a thorough examination. In his impassioned closing argument, Jim lays out his triangulated assassination theory, and implicates Clay Shaw and David Ferrie as participants. He paints Oswald as a foot soldier who was set up to look like the lone shooter. Jim tears up as he quotes Alfred Lord Tennyson: “Authority forgets a dying king.” He beseeches the jurors not to forget Kennedy. However, despite believing Jim’s argument that there was a conspiracy, the jury finds Shaw not guilty. Outside court, Jim tells reporters he will continue to pursue Kennedy’s assassins, even if it takes another thirty years. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.