Archive for John F Kennedy

Two Good Docs

Posted in FILM, Politics with tags , , , , , , on July 16, 2022 by dcairns

GIRL IN THE PICTURE, directed by Skye Borgman, is on Netflix. It’s a true crime doc about an extremely disturbing and effed up case. It’s actually kind of TWINS PEAKS-like in the way it deals with a pure soul in hell. A lot of the praise has been about the way it makes its mystery around a victim, not a perpetrator. The perp here is horrible but clearly uninteresting — just a very damaged and horrible person, not much to learn from.

It’s very well made and the high gloss and the occasional use of “reconstructions” never feels gloating or salacious. It’s tragic, but there are a lot of lovely characters we get to meet.

THE ASSASSINATION AND MRS PAINE, available on Vimeo and Amazon Prime, is a Good documentary also in the sense of being directed by one Max Good, who befriended Marina Oswald’s landlady, a woman who has found herself shoehorned into multiple conspiracy theories on account of her having found Lee Harvey Oswald his job at the Texas School Book Depository. The fatal rifle was stored in her garage. She seems nice.

There are definitely times when she seems to be just undeniably honest in her denials. The rest of the time she seems perfectly credible. She is fairly closely tied to the CIA though: her sister worked for them and she has other connections. But lots of people have ties to the CIA and some don’t even know about it (she says she didn’t know about her sister’s work). William Burroughs knew a hell of a lot of people who worked for the CIA. What do we make of THAT?

There are some good commonsense barriers to a belief in conspiracy here: at the time Oswald got his job, JFK’s route would NOT have taken him past the TSBD building. It was changed later. So we would have to ask who changed it and why? (This week’s may have given us some doubts about the Secret Service.) But I keep coming back to the fact that JFK was assassinated and then his assassin was assassinated. And while we’re told that Jack Ruby did it out of a concern for Jackie Kennedy, here he is on film in the doc saying it was a conspiracy involving powerful people. (Ruby seems pretty incoherent a lot of the time and his defense cited “organic brain damage”). Ruby died soon after with cancer of the entire body, which he claimed had been given to him deliberately. He also said he could say more about the case if he was moved out of Texas.

I will admit — a lot of guns in Texas, a lot of crazy people, a lot of crazy people with guns.

The Mysterious Death Project

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2022 by dcairns

I really enjoyed THE PLOT TO KILL KENNEDY: RUSH TO JUDGMENT, directed by Emile de Antonio from the book Rush to Judgement by Mark Lane. Released in 1967, it beats THE PRICE OF POWER into cinemas by two years, meaning that the spaghetti western was not the first feature film inspired by the Kennedy assassination, just the first fiction film.

One of the grislier attractions of the film is the fact that a number of the interviewees met with mysterious fates. The film ends on Mrs. Acquilla Clemens, witness to the killing of Officer J.D. Tippit. She identified two men as being involved, neither of them resembling Lee Harvey Oswald, who is officially credited with the murder. Asked if she spoke to anyone about this, she says she was visited by an armed man a couple of days later, who told her “someone might hurt me if I would talk.” Investigating the case for his book Into the Nightmare: My Search for the Killers of President John F. Kennedy and Officer J. D. Tippit, Joseph McBride was chilled to discover that Clemens had vanished shortly after this interview — her surviving family had no knowledge of her whereabouts, although there was a bathetic notion that “she might have gone to Philadelphia.” He justifiably concludes that she showed great courage in coming forward.

(McBride also discovered that the witnesses who DID identify Oswald as Tippit’s killer were mostly or all connected fairly directly to Jack Ruby, a very suggestive fact.)

Clemens seems perfectly sincere and honest, or as much as anyone in the film. In spite of her Hitlerian hairdo. Due to the filmmaker’s habit of positioning the interviewer to one side and the camera to the front, ALL of the interviewees look shifty and uncertain, as they can’t decide where to look. There’s a lesson there.

The other mystery case is L.E. Bowers Jr. He witnessed the Kennedy assassination from his place of work, the tower building of the Union Terminal Company. What he saw and heard — much seemingly official activity at the grassy knoll, and “some unusual occurrence, a flash of light or smoke or something,” at the time of the shooting. This is pretty suspicious language. In the book he says, “a flash of light or, as far as I am concerned, something I could not identify,” which is even funnier, but at least he’s consistent.

Bowers was to die when his car smashed into a concrete bridge abutment. Depending on the account, this was suspicious because there was nothing else on the road, or because he was driven off the road by a black car. Dying of his wounds, Bowers supposedly told ambulance workers that he felt his drink had been spiked at his last rest stop. No autopsy was performed.

But researcher David Perry located the surviving ambulance attendant, one Noel Coward(!), who said Bowers didn’t say anything, because “the man’s head was pretty bad.”

This one is baffling on the face of it because Bowers had already told his story. Why kill him? What’s that going to do, except lend credence to what he’d said? Unless that was the intention, or unless he was killed for reasons entirely unrelated to his status as presidential assassination witness. Bowers’ friend, Charles Good, says Bowers knew more than he told the Warren Commission. But in RUSH TO JUDGEMENT, he confirms this, and then tells everything he knows.

So maybe he wasn’t murdered, and maybe he didn’t see what he said he saw. His description of the two men and their vehicles (down to the out-of-state license plates on one car) which he claims to have seen on the knoll, behind the picket fence, are startlingly detailed when you consider that when he saw them, he had no particular reason to pay attention. The assassination hadn’t happened. It was just pre-motorcade activity. And then, when something memorable DOES happen, he’s fuzzy on it.

Cops used to set a lot of store by witnesses who sounded confident and gave detailed descriptions. Today we know that such people are less likely to be reliable than those who sound uncertain and don’t recall many details.

But Bowers tells his story well. He’s no shiftier in the questionable areas than he is on hard fact.

There are a lot more people connected to the assassination who suffered suspicious deaths. I mean, I put it to you, karate chop to the throat is suspicious. But they’re not in this documentary.

If I were going to elucidate my own conspiracy theory, I would suggest that in the case of JFK, rather than covering up the truth by actively suppressing it, someone is covering up the true nature of the crime with a lot of bullshit. Consider the case of movie actor Karyn Kupcynet (Shirley in Corman’s LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS). She was murdered in LA a few days after Kennedy was hit in Dallas. She was definitely murdered (fractured hyoid bone, and we know how conclusive THAT is) but no one was ever convicted.

Various theorists have asserted that she was the woman who tried to make a long distance call a few days before the assassination, and was heard by the operator screaming that the president was going to be killed. But there is no good reason to assume Kupcinet was this unknown person, or that she had any connection to Kennedy, Oswald, Ruby, or any of the other principles. The best anyone has offered is that her father once lived in Chicago and might have met Ruby when he lived there.

So here we have a genuinely startling piece of information — a warning of the impending assassination — which, if true, would strongly suggest conspiracy — being smothered by a fatuous and debunkable connection to an irrelevant (but tragic and intriguing) Hollywood homicide.

Similarly, if anybody was killed off post-assassination for knowing too much — and Jack Ruby would head my list — he SAID he had been given cancer deliberately — it’s obscured and made incredible by a cloud of bullshit, a Mummy’s Curse narrative of easily debunkable and nonsensical false claims. Is Oliver Stone a useful idiot? Or just the regular kind?

It’s a theory, anyway. Just what this case is short of.