Film Review: JFK: 3 Shots That Changed America

Review by TV Columnist Kevin McDonough

kennedyjackjackieOK, I groaned a little when I got the press material for “JFK: 3 Shots That Changed America“. I thought I had seen every scrap of footage related to the Kennedy assassination far too many times already.

Boy was I wrong. “JFK” presents a remarkable parade of clips of home movies, raw news footage, police dispatches and local Dallas coverage — much of it never before aired. And it does so in chronological order and entirely without narration.

The lack of voiceover gives the stream of footage incredible power. Nobody’s telling you what happened or how you’re supposed to interpret it, and this frees the viewer to re-experience a moment of local chaos, national trauma and a time when the fledgling medium of TV news was just figuring itself out.

While presented in a minute-by-minute fashion, the clips arrive weird, raw and jumbled. The documentary often seems like a video version of an archaeological dig, with the editors trying to make sense of so many broken shards of pottery.

Jack Ruby shoots Lee Harvey Oswald

Jack Ruby shoots Lee Harvey Oswald

A stripper from Jack Ruby’s Carousel club appears on a talk show just hours after the arrest of the assassin’s assassin. We hear a clip from a radio broadcast of a Philharmonic orchestra as the conductor announces the president’s murder to a thunderous gasp from the audience, before leading the musicians in an impromptu performance of a Beethoven funeral march. A friend of Jack Ruby suggests that he saw Lee Harvey Oswald in his nightclub just a week before the assassination. Local correspondents insist on calling the alleged shooter Lee Harold Oswald.

We also learn from a number of clips that, contrary to TV legend, Walter Cronkite did not break the news of the president’s death, but that it dribbled out from various sources, with the tentative nature of a horrible rumor nobody wanted to believe.

Again, take this from a jaded Kennedy buff, confirmed history nut and professional media junkie: “JFK” is hypnotic, powerful, spellbinding stuff.”

Two-Part DVD Set

Two-Part DVD Set

Just hours before his death, John F. Kennedy appeared before a crowd in Fort Worth, Texas in what would be his final speech, delivering one last homage to American freedom.

This poignant moment is part of a vast historical record of sights and sounds captured on camera during those catastrophic days. The Zapruder film is only the beginning; much more archival material of the events surrounding the assassination exists.

Abraham Zapruder

Abraham Zapruder

This two-part special uses unique, rarely seen and heard footage to document the Kennedy assassination and the nearly 50 years of speculation and controversy that changed America. This material comes from a range of sources including eyewitness home movies, Dallas police dispatch radio recordings, and raw news footage. Part 1 is a shocking, unflinching look at the assassination of the President and the days that followed.

The second part of the special documenting the JFK assassination examines the aftermath, and the enduring controversies that emerged as succeeding generations of Americans struggled to comprehend the sudden murder of an unforgettable leader.

There are some clips available on youtube to view scenes from Part One.


Filed under Domestic Terrorism, History, Media and Entertainment, True Crime, Violence

19 responses to “Film Review: JFK: 3 Shots That Changed America

  1. audiegrl

    I watched this earlier this week. Like the film critic, I thought that I had seen all the footage available on the Kennedy assassination. Just like him, I was wrong.

    Because there was no narrative voice telling you what you were watching, you had to depend on the footage, and it made the documentary even more palpable.

    It was also interesting to see how reserved people were in their speech in the early 60’s. Its hard to imagine today’s reporters interviewing people after a tragedy and not having to ‘bleep’ anything out.

    Also pretty funny was watching the reporters, policemen, doctors and news anchors smoke like chimneys. One anchorman was blowing smoke into the face of a witness during the interview. 😉

    I highly recommend watching this, you won’t be disappointed.

  2. Pingback: Film Review: JFK: 3 Shots That Changed America « 44-Diaries Reviews Robot

  3. audiegrl

    There’s also some cool footage of a very young, black haired Arlen Specter serving on the Warren Commission. 😉

  4. buellboy

    Being a film buff , conspiracy theorist ,and a fan of the movie editing, I was curious to see not so much what this program uncovered …but how it showed the newly discovered footage. I was not disappointed. The unnarrated footage [following the assassination timeline]was a genius touch allowing the viewer to take in the feeling of fear and lawlessness of the day and form their own opinion.

  5. V.E.G.

    On the JFK Autopsy Film, William “Bruce” Pitzer filmed it (supposedly) and after he died, it is lost and I guess somebody stole his film. If found, they have to give to his sons, Bill and Bob Pitzer.

  6. larry hamilton

    did no one notice that one of the films in this program…caught what appears to be the assassin moving into position to shoot? As the presidential limo turns left on to elm…a film suddenly appears, waterstained at first, that is a closeup view of the sixth floor window. you can see a man, in a white tshirt, sitting behind the box, suddenly move forward and take aim just as the films frame of reference moves past him. why has o one commented on this. i would have thought it would be headline news. i,ve watched it several times in slow motion…in total amazement.

    • Anonymous

      Maybe there’s too much money to be made in promoting the conspiracy story. Vincent Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History clarifies the reality.

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  9. V.E.G.

    William Bruce Pitzer was the direct descendant of the American Revolution.

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