A Thread about the film JFK

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Joe Pesci in a horrible wig screaming that it's a riddle wrapped inside a mystery wrapped inside an enigma then noting that all he ever wanted to be was a Catholic priest. Kevin Bacon as a gay prostitute who declares that "fascism is coming back!" Is that a brillo pad on Tommy Lee Jones's head? Donald Sutherland imitating the micromachine man from galoob. Kevin Costner announcing that he's ashamed to be an american. Kevin talking to a black woman for two seconds to reaffirm his character is a good man (classy, Stone!). Sissy Spacek is mad at him for ignoring the children until he announces that Bobby's been shot, which inspires sex and devotion in her. The man at the firing range wasn't Lee Harvey Oswald, it was FRANK WHALEY!!! Ed Asner beats the shit out of Jack Lemmon. Operation Mongoose is led by the cuban-gay mafia, with help from U.S. Generals. Back and to the left...back and to the left. DO NOT FORGET YOUR DYING KING. WHAT IS PAST IS PROLOGUE.

Is painfully innaccurate bullshit hollywood cameo crazy stereotypical racist messianic horseshit ok as long as it's VIBRANT, intense horseshit? As long as John Candy plays a sweaty jive-talker who thinks that Costner is as crazy as his mamma, goes to show its in the genes?

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 01:10 (eighteen years ago) link

Yes, it is! I love this movie! Donald Sutherland's scene is so amazing (though I wish they did it without cutaways)... who else could carry a 25-minute monologue? (All about that voice.) It's a great thriller.

s1utsky (slutsky), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 01:16 (eighteen years ago) link

great movie. and indeed sutherland is majestic in that monologue

ryan (ryan), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 01:20 (eighteen years ago) link

It could all be made-up shroom-hallucination-derived nonsense for all I care.

s1utsky (slutsky), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 01:21 (eighteen years ago) link

I will admit I loved the film in middle school. I find it really hard to get over the manipulativeness of it (I know manipulation isn't bad per se, I AM a DePalma fan, but Stone's use of it to fuck with history bothers me BIG TIME). That said when me and a friend rented Ruby we were so bored that we put in JFK after about ten minutes. If I'm gonna watch some red-head psychotic plan the death of the greatest president Oliver Stone ever knew, I'm gonna watch Joe Pesci play him, goddamnit.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 01:23 (eighteen years ago) link

And Brian Doyle-Murray as Jack Ruby!!!! Way better than Danny Aiello.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 01:24 (eighteen years ago) link

I actually first saw this movie earlier this year! Weirdly enough.

s1utsky (slutsky), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 01:28 (eighteen years ago) link

crazy! and you call yourself a Stone apologist! I saw it in the theaters and me and my friend were bursting with liberal conspiracy theory fervor afterwards. Though even then I was annoyed by Stone's cliched wife-doesn't-understand-I'm-saving-the-world bullshit.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 01:29 (eighteen years ago) link

The funny thing is a couple nights later I was a little st*ned and I was talking to a friend of mine a mile-a-minute and I got on the JFK thing and I had to stop myself because I was acting like such a cliche. I still can't believe I actually did that.

s1utsky (slutsky), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 01:33 (eighteen years ago) link

I've said it a million times, and I'll say it again (only to get yelled at for it): I love the editing. I don't mean the fast cuts so much as the sheer crazy techniques within that speed that he really didn't start off on until JFK and The Doors. And jeah, fuck the inaccuracies - it's a great MOVIE, and if you just go into it knowing that it's horrible history but wonderful cinema - what a rush! Also one of the few films, as mentioned above, that makes a good argument for a big and extremely famous ensemble cast (with a large proportion of them playing against type, no less).

And the Rooker! How can you forget Michael Rooker?


I seriously need to stop raving about all this before I stain my pants.

Girolamo Savonarola, Wednesday, 15 October 2003 01:45 (eighteen years ago) link

I seriously need to stop raving about all this before I stain my pants.

Never stopped Stone!

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 01:52 (eighteen years ago) link

i once had a strange theory that JFK was Stone's Hamlet and that Nixon was Macbeth - i think i got it from an interview or something

ryan (ryan), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 03:16 (eighteen years ago) link

I think I could make a post here that was just "slutsky's OTM about X, Girolamo's OTM about Y..." Sutherland makes the movie, for one thing. It's sort of borderline for me; there are a lot of scenes that don't hold up as well to multiple viewings as other parts, so it's not something I'll watch the entirety of when it's on HBO or whatever. But the good parts are a lot of fun.

And Stone was up front (eventually, maybe? I don't remember if he said this all along) about the history being fucked; "it's a myth, yeah, but it's a myth to counter the equally-false one we've been handed by the gov't," sentiments to that effect. Hell, I'd like to see more intentionally-fucked history in movies, without it being played for laughs; there could be a lot of material there.

As for the ensemble cast thing: anything else about the movie aside, has the "huge cast of famous people" thing been done better than in this? Altman's good with that, but I don't know if he ever did it quite this well, especially if you don't count Short Cuts.

Tep (ktepi), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 03:30 (eighteen years ago) link

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

s1utsky (slutsky), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 04:08 (eighteen years ago) link

"Back, and to the left. Back, and to the left..."

Sarah Pedal (call mr. lee), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 04:38 (eighteen years ago) link

Clearly Stone needs to remake It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World!

(Okay, I forgot about that one. I'd have to see it again, though.)

Tep (ktepi), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 04:45 (eighteen years ago) link

JFK is wonderfully messed up as a movie, but isn't all that great as a JFK assassination movie. I seem to recall that one of Apocalypse Culture volumes had a list of the subliminal scenes in the movie.

Elvis Telecom (Chris Barrus), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 05:03 (eighteen years ago) link

What's great as a JFK assassination movie? Winter Kills?

s1utsky (slutsky), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 05:05 (eighteen years ago) link

Norma Jean and Marilyn

Tep (ktepi), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 05:06 (eighteen years ago) link

Here it is: subliminal scenes in Oliver Stone's JFK

Elvis Telecom (Chris Barrus), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 05:06 (eighteen years ago) link

The best JFK assassination movie: Executive Action

Elvis Telecom (Chris Barrus), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 05:08 (eighteen years ago) link

Actually, Radio would be great as a JFK assassination movie. As would be Finding Nemo.

s1utsky (slutsky), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 05:08 (eighteen years ago) link

ET, have you seen Winter Kills?

s1utsky (slutsky), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 05:09 (eighteen years ago) link

I thought you had linked to Executive Decision for a second there.

s1utsky (slutsky), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 05:10 (eighteen years ago) link

Also check out Interview With The Assassin

Elvis Telecom (Chris Barrus), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 05:12 (eighteen years ago) link

As history JFK is questionable to say the least, though supposedly so is the Warren Report. As viseral cinema it is phenomenal in its energy and detail, examples that previous posts by Slutsky and Girolama point out. The Lee Harvey Oswald bio montage, opening Bay of Pigs newsreel overture, and the aforementioned Sutherland monologue are key examples of why Stone was nearly unmatched as a filmmaker in 1990s Hollywood.
Executive Action has the hilarious closing V.O., which is stangely eerie, about how one witness to the assasination was killed by a "karate chop to the neck".
The more intellectually thoughtful artistic works to be inspired by the Kennedy assasination include Don Delillo's fictionalized Oswald bio "Libra", which theorizes a series of events that are scarily realistic with respect to human nature. And Bruce Conner's short film REPORT uses footage taped off of television to give a powerfully expressive montage account of what (I imagine) it was like to experience the event as a television viewer. Conner uses repetition brilliantly in the piece.

theodore fogelsanger, Wednesday, 15 October 2003 16:38 (eighteen years ago) link

i dreamt last night that the cause of jfk's assassination was bob-a-job week

sadly this important historical revelation is nowhere reflected in stone's film

"the parallax effect" and "three days of the condor" are two pretty good 70s 12-ft-lizard movies abt assassination politics

mark s (mark s), Wednesday, 15 October 2003 16:52 (eighteen years ago) link

'parallax view' you mean i think . terrified me aged about 13 that.

JFK is *made* by that mr. x/sutherland sequence,but yep those techniques of multi-film stock/editing craziness etc seemed brilliant/insane/eye-popping in '92. nobody else had done anything like that.
in fact 'nbk' was just re-hashing most of them shot for shot and
no-one noticed as they hadn't seen jfk in the 1st place. it was a seriously under-watched film at the time, but at 2 hrs 20 minutes
even in it's original non-director's cut that isn't surprising.

stone never ever ever said anything about it being the whole truth.
it was well known that x was based on prouty, although
obviously the waters are yet more muddied around the conspiracy by the fact that he goes too far the other way in trying to convince us of his version, but hey it asked a lot of questions, and it made people ask more questions etc etc.
empire magazine gave it some kind of weird 'inspiration' award about 5 years ago for some reason and stone showed up, gave a speech looking genuinely touched, moved etc.

there was an *astonishing* episode of DISPATCHES (channel 4, uk)
which i had seen early 90's ('91 ?) not long before seeing the movie,
and that was all facts no theory, it definitely helped to see something like that beforehand.

sutherland's fave bit of all his 80's/90's work he says.
3 months prep for 1 days' acting by all accnts. one day !

" does that sound like a bunch of coincidences to you mr garrison ? ...not for one moment"

piscesboy, Thursday, 16 October 2003 13:14 (eighteen years ago) link

man, donald sutherland's voice is one of the greatest things about the 20th century

s1utsky (slutsky), Thursday, 16 October 2003 14:53 (eighteen years ago) link

canadians already rule the world = the REAL conspiracy here!!

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 16 October 2003 15:09 (eighteen years ago) link

I should note that when I talk about manipulative and misleading bullshit I'm not just talking about the JFK conspiracy stuff. I'm also talking about stuff like the closing summation from Costner that didn't exist in real life cuz Garrison's assistant actually gave the closing speech. I'm more complaining about the way Hollywood (and Stone is DEFINITELY Hollywood, sorry) always bleaches movies based on real life. A Beautiful Mind being a classic example. It always seems to me that the real story is more interesting, cuz, well THAT'S WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED in real life. Stone's "alternative myth" is such a case of two wrongs not making a right, though I'm even more grossed out by Nixon, where his visual style became much more random and simplistic.

Of course, Alexander will be when he stops blaming the gays and ethnics for everything that's wrong with the world. Naturally. I should really see Salvador. It's got James Woods and it's not a revisionist take on American history. Whew.

Yes, Sutherland was great. Though I really wish they'd given John Candy more scenes.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Thursday, 16 October 2003 15:16 (eighteen years ago) link

That's kind of the problem with all movies ever.

s1utsky (slutsky), Thursday, 16 October 2003 18:40 (eighteen years ago) link

Except for "Who's Harry Crumb?"

NA (Nick A.), Thursday, 16 October 2003 19:01 (eighteen years ago) link

They better not touch that scene where he's lying flat against that big skylight.

s1utsky (slutsky), Thursday, 16 October 2003 22:39 (eighteen years ago) link

I hope someone actually get the cash to make James Ellroy's books "American Tabloid" and "The Cold Six Thousand" into a miniseries. Those two books are much, much further over the top, ugly and entertaining than either "JFK" or "Libra".

That documentary "The Men Who Killed Kennedy" and the follow up are also worth watching if you are interested in the Kennedy assassination. I think Stone nicked more from it than he would want to admit.

earlnash, Friday, 17 October 2003 00:35 (eighteen years ago) link

JFK is really massively entertaining and beautifully put together, but of course total bullshit. I saw it around the same time I read a handful of conspiracy books by the likes of Jim Marrs, Gerald Posner, and some others. Posner's was the most convincing, and he thinks Oswald did it. And if you've ever met some of these astonishingly influential conspiracy theorists (I worked on a bad cable TV show that had a couple of them on...Marrs and the guy who wrote Best Evidence), you can see how loony they are. Marrs also believes that UFOs attacked Los Angeles in the '40s. Logic just doesn't prevail in the case of JFK....

still a really good movie!

Gear! (Gear!), Friday, 17 October 2003 05:00 (eighteen years ago) link

It always seems to me that the real story is more interesting, cuz, well THAT'S WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED in real life.

That's what I always say, too.

oops (Oops), Friday, 17 October 2003 05:06 (eighteen years ago) link

We need more films this insane!! Stoney shd do the Florida election in the same style. Gay Cubans agogo, neo-con cabals in smoky rooms, lurking Ay-rab terrorists... k-classic.

This pitch is copyright, btw.

Enrique (Enrique), Friday, 17 October 2003 12:50 (eighteen years ago) link

Too bad you can't copyright ideas... ;)

Girolamo Savonarola, Friday, 17 October 2003 14:08 (eighteen years ago) link

You sure about that? It's written, anyway.

(I must have time on my hands)

Enrique (Enrique), Friday, 17 October 2003 14:12 (eighteen years ago) link

if only stone had based jfk on this theory

(posner quotes ballistics expert donahue to refute criticism of the "magic bullet" theory but gets his name wrong)

(ps my friend adair's decisive refutation of posner's book: "Jesus, look at that man's HAIR OIL!!") (this shd also have been in stone's film)

mark s (mark s), Friday, 17 October 2003 14:19 (eighteen years ago) link

WTF? Witnesses? I like ballistics, they are fun. But -- well, are there not easier ways of finding out here? Man stands up with sub-machine gun? In plain sight? And says 'I wan you to meet my liddle fren'

Knoll Edmonds (Enrique), Friday, 17 October 2003 14:26 (eighteen years ago) link

the description of hickey's movements on the web-page is inaccurate: the book suggests he fell BACKWARDS when the cars speeded up, and so wd not particularly have LOOKED as if he was firing a (single acc.theory) shot, just as if he was falling over backwards

it claims the secret servicemen surrounding him DID know, but covered it up as it was an accident and oswald had already shot jfk fatally and why introduce irrelevancies which wd damage an innocent if clumsy colleague's career needlessly blah blah

the witnesses on the verge etc were anyway notoriously all over the place as to where the various shots came from in terms of puffs of smoke, drifts of smoke and sounds of shots complete w.echoes, plus already looking all directions away from the cars bcz oswald had already fired twice (missed car altogether first time, hit kennedy AND connaly second time)

hickey WAS armed with this gun: that's historically attested to, and visible in some of the photos, esp.the later ones where the motorcade is speeding to the hospital and he's holding it pointed upwards

plus also there's photographic studies of what direction a pumpkin wrapped in masking tape will lurch if you fire a gun into it

mark s (mark s), Friday, 17 October 2003 14:42 (eighteen years ago) link

More details - just arrived.

Blimey Mark. Full-on shit there. Er, I'll go with it, but LHO managed a fatal shot? Or maybe he *would* have if CIA guy hadn't? I'm well outta my depth, my Dad was mad into it and I was all yeah yeah: classic conspiracy scene: Annie Hall.

The motorcade sped on...

Steinski (Enrique), Friday, 17 October 2003 14:53 (eighteen years ago) link

haha i tried to find one of the pix in question but found myself on a page where some loony was claiming, based on a photo blown up so large you couldn't make out ANYTHING AT ALL, that one of kennedy's SS-men is "grinning in an evil way" hence etc etc

i think oswald did it end-of-story, but if you want a good conspiracy, menninger's is my favourite on aesthetix-of-slapstick grounds

mark s (mark s), Friday, 17 October 2003 15:08 (eighteen years ago) link

If you've ever been to the School Book Depository and gotten a look from up there, you'd have no doubt that it's an easy shot, for the most part. As for the whole "he didn't have enough time" thing, they don't take into account that the first shot fired was a complete miss. One in the trees, one in Kennedy and Connolly, one in Kennedy's head.

Or just read Posner's book.

Girolamo Savonarola, Friday, 17 October 2003 15:08 (eighteen years ago) link

People believe this conspiracy shit now for the same reasons they think Saddam partially orchestrated 9/11: they don't know jack about the case, the circumstances, the evidence, and how illogical it is that a shooting like that would be carried out with the shooters (who allegedly weren't of the Sirhan Sirhan "I just don't give a fuck" school of thinking, but wanted to get away) mere feet away from dozens of people, cameras everywhere, etc.

Quite honestly though the most despicable thing about JFK the film is that it names and implicates Clay Shaw as being involved in the killing, when in reality he was just a businessman with an extremely tenuous connection to the CIA. Garrison was a scumbag, really. Tried to indict a guy from Cali in the JFK plot, because he once wrote him the prez a threatening letter.

Gear! (Gear!), Saturday, 18 October 2003 03:19 (eighteen years ago) link

if stone had based the movie on the slapstick theory then it would have been nowhere near as exciting of course.

I have a friend who always gets pretty mad at historical inaccuracies in movies (esp regarding world war II movies).

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Sunday, 19 October 2003 17:59 (eighteen years ago) link

no but it wd be funny, which is better than exciting

mark s (mark s), Sunday, 19 October 2003 21:31 (eighteen years ago) link

what about something that's funny and exciting? like your beloved spaceballs!

s1utsky (slutsky), Monday, 20 October 2003 01:24 (eighteen years ago) link

Some cranberry sauce and stuffing spilling out and a torn-up turkey....perfect time for a jfk conversation.

omar little, Tuesday, 26 November 2019 01:35 (two years ago) link

you know i don't like these tribal rituals

difficult listening hour, Tuesday, 26 November 2019 03:17 (two years ago) link

having finished the Summers book awhile back, what i appreciated about it was how he simply lays out all the information he believes to be truthful or believable, and doesn't really buy into any one theory specifically. he leans hard on the mob/disgruntled Cuban exiles aspect, hinting at both possibilities linked to those groups: that Oswald was directly involved, or wound up trapped in a vise by others.

omar little, Thursday, 28 November 2019 00:33 (two years ago) link

I love how much Scorsese is just straight up trollling in this scene. https://t.co/TApD2d822C

— Peter Labuza (@labuzamovies) November 27, 2019

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 28 November 2019 00:37 (two years ago) link


TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 28 November 2019 04:00 (two years ago) link

one month passes...

- testify

- me

- testify

- lol no chance in hell

orifex, Wednesday, 22 January 2020 08:01 (one year ago) link

If they can kill the president of the United States, do you think they're gonna think twice about a two-bit showgirl like me?

I Heard You Ain't HOOS's (Eric H.), Wednesday, 22 January 2020 13:42 (one year ago) link

I just rewatched last weekend. Everything everyone said is correct.

bold caucasian eroticism (Simon H.), Wednesday, 22 January 2020 13:44 (one year ago) link

fuck yeah!

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 22 January 2020 13:55 (one year ago) link

Ain't got no reason to LAH to ya, I'm already IN jail!

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 22 January 2020 13:55 (one year ago) link

Pretty flowery for Dave Ferrie.

I Heard You Ain't HOOS's (Eric H.), Wednesday, 22 January 2020 14:12 (one year ago) link

We're way overdue another crack at hitting this level of dreamy mania with a similarly stacked cast. My body is ready for QAnon.

bold caucasian eroticism (Simon H.), Wednesday, 22 January 2020 14:20 (one year ago) link

i dreamt last night that the cause of jfk's assassination was bob-a-job week

― mark s (mark s), Wednesday, October 15, 2003 5:52 PM (fifteen years ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

still the only good theory imo

― mark s, Friday, 17 May 2019 15:02 (eight months ago) bookmarkflaglink

don't make me tap the sign

mark s, Wednesday, 22 January 2020 14:23 (one year ago) link

Maybe Shaw is an agent. I don't know. But as a covert operator, he is wide open for blackmail because of his ho-mo-sex-u-ality.

omar little, Wednesday, 22 January 2020 14:33 (one year ago) link

two months pass...

been playing a lot of quarantine playstation and the other day both my controllers died and i was genuinely upset and whispered: "both of them, both brothers?"

orifex, Friday, 3 April 2020 15:28 (one year ago) link


brechtian social distancing (Simon H.), Friday, 3 April 2020 15:30 (one year ago) link


☮️ (peace, man), Friday, 3 April 2020 15:58 (one year ago) link

two weeks pass...


you heard ECHOES

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 20 April 2020 19:56 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

Kennedy's as dead as that crab meat, the government's alive and breathing. You gonna line up with a dead man, Jimbo?

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 30 May 2021 00:40 (six months ago) link

Willie O'Keefe : You don't know shit 'cause you've never been fucked in the ass!

sleeve, Sunday, 30 May 2021 00:44 (six months ago) link

And I knew Allen Dulles very well. I briefed him many a time in his house. He was also General Y's benefactor. But for the life of me I still can't figure out why Dulles was appointed to investigate Kennedy's death. The man who had fired him.

― TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, November 22, 2019

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 30 May 2021 02:47 (six months ago) link

Sutherland’s my new fave on todays rewatch

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 30 May 2021 03:39 (six months ago) link

Wise bunch of birds…

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 30 May 2021 04:35 (six months ago) link

Worth checking out the *alternate* versions of the Sutherland scene, originally it was two different sections of the film; the second half of his monolgue was the film's last scene and he (and Costner) were made-up to look older. Annoyingly the Stone commentary track is all over the version on YouTube but it's better than nowt


piscesx, Sunday, 30 May 2021 20:15 (six months ago) link

three months pass...

i'm watching this for the first time since it came out. since it was 3 hours and i would have been 8 or so at the time, this makes it a movie i would have went to with my dad, who was not really a movie guy. more of an action movies + braveheart kind of guy. anyway, makes me think he really wanted to see it, i guess.

joe pesci's southern accent is _killing me_

Karl Malone, Tuesday, 7 September 2021 20:08 (two months ago) link

wise buncha birds

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 7 September 2021 20:17 (two months ago) link

one month passes...

very very few people know about this alright

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 1 November 2021 16:28 (one month ago) link

three weeks pass...

Thinking about Kevin Costner JFK anime glasses pic.twitter.com/XdEDPGsug2

— christian (@speederaserhead) November 27, 2020

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 23 November 2021 10:40 (one week ago) link

is Karl still watching it

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 23 November 2021 10:54 (one week ago) link

Love how this is being blamed for the bad things in the US.


xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 23 November 2021 23:15 (one week ago) link

paywalled for me :(

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 23 November 2021 23:18 (one week ago) link

paywalled for you? or hidden from you deliberately by the fbi?

just staying (Karl Malone), Tuesday, 23 November 2021 23:21 (one week ago) link

Oliver Stone once made brilliant movies like Platoon, which won Oscars for best picture and best director. These days, he’s a tinfoil-hatted fabricator. His new documentary — JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, premiering on Showtime on, you guessed it, Nov. 22 — is rooted in a big lie. It comes 30 years after the premiere of JFK, a film unrivaled in the annals of American cinematic propaganda. Both are based on the undying delusion that President Kennedy was murdered by the Deep State: The Central Intelligence Agency, backed by the military-industrial complex.

Do you believe that the CIA killed JFK? Millions of Americans suspect so. Let me ask you, then: Why do they believe it?

The tale can be traced to a Russian disinformation operation. It came from the same arsenal of political warfare that convinced half the world that the U.S. Army created AIDS. The one that monkey-wrenched the 2016 election for Donald Trump. The one now flooding the internet with deadly lies about the coronavirus and vaccines. The goals of these campaigns were one and the same: to divide Americans, to pour salt in our self-inflicted wounds, and ultimately to convince you that there is no truth. That crackpot fantasies are cold hard realities. That “conspiracy theories are now conspiracy facts,” as Stone proclaims in JFK Revisited.

Disinformation works best when it contains a kernel of truth. And, in truth, the Kennedy assassination is the black hole of American history. It has sucked better minds than Stone’s down into darkness. It has taught generations of Americans to be highly skeptical of the Official Government Version of events. It made the grassy knoll our town commons.

But what you believe about it boils down to this: Either Lee Harvey Oswald, trained by the United States Marines as a sharpshooter before he defected to the Soviet Union, got off a million-to-one shot in Dallas. He acted alone. Or he was an instrument of a conspiracy so immense that it staggers the mind.

As the new documentary opens, Stone paces down Dealey Plaza in Dallas, where President Kennedy was killed, the same place where QAnon crazies gathered recently to await the miraculous resurrection of JFK Jr. and the divine reinauguration of Trump. The director promises his audience that he is about to solve the murder mystery, to “piece together what really happened that day and discover the reasons why.”

Brace yourself: he doesn’t.

The dark beast of JFK Revisited is Allen Dulles, a founding father of the CIA and its director from February 1953 to November 1961. I know a fair amount about Dulles; my history of the CIA, Legacy of Ashes, lays a multitude of sins at his feet. Dulles often grievously misled Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy. He oversaw CIA coups in Iran and Guatemala which ushered in dictatorships. His top officers tried to kill Fidel Castro, enlisting the Mafia. He blithely convinced JFK to carry out the disastrous invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961, which was his downfall as Director of Central Intelligence.

Stone pegs Dulles as a presiding genius of the plot against the president. To begin building this case, he tells us that Dulles and the CIA backed a failed military coup aimed at assassinating President Charles de Gaulle of France. That’s another lie spun by Moscow.

Like the cold-war CIA, the KGB paid editors and reporters around the world to print stories that could advance the Kremlin’s international agendas. In the late 1950’s, it created a directorate to undermine America. Department D — D as in dezinformatsiya — aimed to bend and shape public opinion, and above all to defame the United States. The Department of Disinformation was the world’s first industrial factory of fake news.

A KGB-scripted story about the CIA’s plot to kill De Gaulle first appeared in a daily newspaper, Paese Sera, published in Rome and backed by the Italian Communist Party, a few days after the Bay of Pigs. It was republished in Moscow by the Soviet party organ, Pravda; then in France, and finally across the globe. That was, and is, the M.O. of Russian disinformation operations: start a fire, fan the flames, and blow the smoke around the world.

Six years later, Paese Sera planted the seed that flowered into JFK. And therein lies a tale. (One first told in 2001 by the historian Max Holland in The Wilson Quarterly, a now-defunct political science journal.)

On March 1, 1967, the New Orleans district attorney, Jim Garrison, arrested Clay Shaw, the director of the city’s International Trade Mart and a somewhat-closeted gay man, and charged him with a central role in a conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy. The D.A. told reporters that what happened in Dallas had been “a homosexual thrill-killing.” Three days later, Paese Sera named Shaw as a conduit for CIA funds for espionage and dirty tricks in Rome. The story, crafted by the KGB, ricocheted around the world, landing in New York on the front page of a New Left weekly, the National Guardian, on March 18.

Garrison seized upon it. He fed the falsehood to a friendly newspaper reporter in New Orleans and it landed on page one. He told the world that Shaw was a longtime CIA operative. (He wasn’t, though he had been a casual part-time contact on questions of commerce, one among some 150,000 Americans who volunteered information to the cold-war CIA.) The prosecutor then doubled down. He proclaimed that the CIA had plotted to kill Kennedy and then covered up the conspiracy, that Oswald had been under its control, that the agency was “infinitely more powerful than the Gestapo,” and that it had masterminded a coup d’etat in America in the name of anticommunism.

On Feb. 6, 1969, Garrison put Clay Shaw on trial. His witnesses were a parade of perjurers from the seamier quarters of New Orleans. He presented no evidence tying the CIA to his case. But in his summation, he asked the jurors to strike a righteous blow against the Deep State’s “murder of the truth.” They took 54 minutes to acquit.

Garrison’s tragicomedy had two lasting effects on the United States. The first was immediate: After he announced his charges, the number of Americans who believed that there was a conspiracy to kill Kennedy skyrocketed. A majority still believe it. The second took 20 years.

Garrison spent a decade turning his case into a book called On The Trail Of The Assassins: One Man’s Quest to Solve the Murder of President Kennedy. The co-conspirators in this opus included the CIA, the FBI, the Dallas police department, the Warren Commission, the Secret Service, anti-Castro Cubans, the United States Army, and the Navy pathologists who autopsied JFK. Fifteen publishers rejected it until it was picked up by William Schaap and Ellen Ray at Sheridan Square Press in 1988. (The couple had worked with Phillip Agee, a CIA defector, publishing Covert Action Information Bulletin, a magazine devoted to exposing the Agency’s operations and officers. Agee received a strong assist from Russian intelligence, according to KGB records. No evidence whatsoever links Schaap and Ray, now both deceased, to the Russians.)

On The Trail Of The Assassins would prove to be a hit with the public. Shortly before its publication, as Schaap later recounted, “at a film festival in Havana, we ran into Oliver Stone. And Ellen said to him, ‘Have I got a property for you!’ Because we knew he was an assassination freak, we gave him an advance copy of the book…. Of course, Oliver Stone won’t admit to any of this!”

JFK and its new sequel are, with artistic embellishments, cinematic transcriptions of Jim Garrison’s delusions. The original movie convinced millions more Americans that the version of history wrought by Stone and Garrison was true. National surveys taken after JFK was released showed that three-quarters of those polled believed the CIA had murdered the President. And that, along with the end of the cold war, provoked Congress to begin declassifying millions of records relating to the assassination — a task that remains incomplete nearly three decades later. Both Trump and President Biden have delayed disclosures required under law, though a new set of documents is set to be unwrapped before Christmas.

I’ve spent half my life reporting, writing, and reading about the CIA and American intelligence. I remember the Kennedy assassination; I’ve studied the evidence. And I can’t tell you that there wasn’t a conspiracy. Maybe it was the Russians. Could have been the Cubans. Might have been the Mafia. Maybe there’s a mind-blowing bombshell in the still-classified archives of the government. But I seriously doubt it.

I can tell you for a fact that our democracy is suffocating under an avalanche of disinformation. Trump won the 2020 election! Covid vaccines are seeded with microchips! Democrats are blood-sucking pedophile communists! 9/11 was an inside job! Our body politic is being poisoned by lies. They stalk the land like brain-eating zombies. And we can’t seem to kill them.

We have a moral obligation to call bullshit when we see it. Especially when public figures promote lies for profit. Stone’s JFK films are fantasies. Conspiracy theories are not facts. They’re a kind of collective psychosis. And they’re driving our country down the road to hell.

In This Article: CIA, conspiracy theories, FBI, JFK, Oliver Stone

just staying (Karl Malone), Tuesday, 23 November 2021 23:22 (one week ago) link

the whole thing I never understood is the whole thing seems to be that the CIA killed him because he was a threat to the military industrial complex and US foreign policy which I never got the sense he was in any real way?

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Wednesday, 24 November 2021 00:13 (one week ago) link

fuck yeah!

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 24 November 2021 00:53 (one week ago) link

xp I guess it depends on which Kennedy you focus on, the guy who gave speeches about ending colonialism and was pissed off about the Bay of Pigs, or the guy running to Nixon’s right on Cuba and missiles. The Cuba podcast Blowback definitely leans toward the former, but they provided an interesting contrast of Kennedy promoting peace and understanding post-Bay of Pigs, and at the same time delivering hard-line speeches about intolerance for Communism.

JoeStork, Wednesday, 24 November 2021 01:24 (one week ago) link

read the devil's chessboard! it's the best! it explains the theory more like a web of things that were going on, not just that a guy is a threat so let's murder him

certified juice therapist (harbl), Wednesday, 24 November 2021 01:32 (one week ago) link

Love how this is being blamed for the bad things in the US.

this is the funniest tweet of the week

Twitter allowed a hashtag pushing a conspiracy theory about the CIA and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to trend nationally. It appears that it was due to an account urging users to get the hashtag trending. pic.twitter.com/oRcdW9VRjN

— Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) November 22, 2021

papal hotwife (milo z), Wednesday, 24 November 2021 01:33 (one week ago) link

harbl otm

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 24 November 2021 03:21 (one week ago) link

how's your mousse

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 24 November 2021 03:25 (one week ago) link

Honestly the ~only~ time I have any time for Oliver Stone is when he is feeding at the JFK trough.

Weiner sounds like he hates fun

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 24 November 2021 03:37 (one week ago) link

um how soon we forget The Doors, the finest motion picture of our times

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Wednesday, 24 November 2021 03:42 (one week ago) link

16 yo me agrees w you

but jfk is the only Stone movie i can watch

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 24 November 2021 03:54 (one week ago) link

a little surprised jacobin of all places ran it, but this is a great interview w/ stone:


it’s been a while since i went on my jfk book reading spree, but basically everything he says here is solid as far as i can tell

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Wednesday, 24 November 2021 19:32 (one week ago) link

However, this is, as we say, bullshit:

Now, you can argue that we don’t know what would have happened, but the man, Kennedy, we try to establish, was an anti-colonialist. He’d been involved in Algeria, he’d been involved in Vietnam as early as 1954. And he said repeatedly these Third World countries needed their independence, and he was against the concept of a Cold War, against communism being used as an excuse to suppress independence — in the Congo, in Vietnam, in Laos, in Algeria, all over the world. And in Latin America, especially, he was very strong with his Alliance for Progress.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 24 November 2021 19:37 (one week ago) link

It’s a unique spin on Boomer Camelot fetishism.

papal hotwife (milo z), Wednesday, 24 November 2021 19:44 (one week ago) link


So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 24 November 2021 19:46 (one week ago) link

the whole thing I never understood is the whole thing seems to be that the CIA killed him because he was a threat to the military industrial complex and US foreign policy which I never got the sense he was in any real way?
― Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Wednesday, November 24, 2021 12:13 AM (nineteen hours ago)

this is a fair criticism and it’s true that oliver stone does go overboard in sentimentalizing jfk himself. (though it’s nothing compared to what he did with jim garrison; the anti-conspiracy writers basically got that one right, as far as i can tell.)

but i saw a comment about this somewhere that I’ve never been able to get out of my head. roughly: “the important question isn’t whether noam chomsky thinks jfk was a threat to the foreign policy status quo, it’s whether *allen dulles* thought he was.”

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Wednesday, 24 November 2021 20:04 (one week ago) link

Right, and Kennedy’s true foreign policy intentions may have been less of a concern than his level of anger with the CIA for making him look like an asshole.

JoeStork, Wednesday, 24 November 2021 20:27 (one week ago) link

A new piece from ILX vet Dorian L


Ned Raggett, Monday, 29 November 2021 13:15 (three days ago) link

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