“Executive Action” – The First “JFK” Movie

October 27, 2013

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Executive_Action1973

Twenty years before Oliver Stone’s “JFK”, there was another very powerful movie about the Kennedy assassination – “Executive Action”. The year was 1973, and the Watergate scandal was beginning to eat away at the Nixon administration; as well it should have – the same players were involved in killing Kennedy.
I purchased the dvd for something like four bucks on Amazon, and it’s a fine addition to my Kennedy library. The movie stars Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan and – believe it or not – Will Geer in a role very different than “Grandpa Walton”.
It’s amazing how close to the truth this movie comes, being only ten years past the actual assassination. While several of the early books challenging the official Warren Report cover-up had been published, much more material has been dug out of government files and first-hand testimony in the following years.
The movie tells the story from the perspective of the conspirators, quite the opposite of the Garrison case in “JFK”. While not entirely revealing the background of the plotters, they resemble actual people believed to be involved at the time. Robert Ryan is somewhat like Clint Murchison, Will Geer may represent a H.L. Hunt figure, and Burt Lancaster as a “Howard Hunt”-type assassination expert. The movie begins with Ryan, Lancaster, and a few insiders meeting to convince Geer to help fund the operation. As the movie progresses, we see Geer’s character becoming more and more concerned about Kennedy turning away from the cold war and advocating civil rights for minorities.
That meeting reflects one of many that are said to have happened. In Murchison’s Wikipedia profile, just such a meeting is described:

“Madeleine Brown — an advertising executive who claimed to have had an extended love affair and a son with President Lyndon B. Johnson — said that she attended a party at Murchison’s Dallas home on November 21, 1963 — the evening prior to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In attendance, according to Brown, were Lyndon Johnson as well as other famous, wealthy, and powerful individuals including, J. Edgar Hoover, Richard Nixon, H. L. Hunt, George Brown, and John McCloy.[4] Brown said that Johnson met privately with several of the men after which he told her: “After tomorrow, those goddamn Kennedys will never embarrass me again. That’s no threat. That’s a promise.”

A surprisingly good example of dialogue in the movie brings up the fear of the end of white supremacy in the United States – something that is clearly reflected in the Tea Party politics of today. Here’s an example from the Wiki file on the movie:

“While the motives of the man in the white suit are clear, the film attempts to cast light on the murky paranoid fears of the conspirators through dialogues between Foster and Farrington. They are primarily concerned about the future of America and the security of ruling-class white people around the world. Foster forecasts the population of the third world in 2000 at 7 billion, “Most of them yellow, brown or black. All hungry and all determined to love; they’ll swarm out of their breeding grounds into Europe and America.” He sees Vietnam as an opportunity to control the developing world and reduce its population to 550 million: “I’ve seen the data,” says Foster, adding that they can then apply the same ‘birth-control’ methods to unwanted groups in the US: poor whites, blacks and Latinos.”

While the plot is sufficiently vague to absorb a lot of the theories floating around out there, one thing really struck me; Even Lancaster and Ryan as “the plotters” see evidence that another unseen hand is at work, manipulating Oswald and his double and inserting pieces into the puzzle. This may be truer than we know, as more recent information about Oswald’s trip to Mexico suggests.

“Executive Action” is an excellent entry-level introduction to the story of the Kennedy assassination, and more importantly, the broad conspiratorial machine that is “the military-industrial complex”.

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3 Responses to “Executive Action” – The First “JFK” Movie

  1. Dan on April 22, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Just watched this movie this morning via Google play store.
    Fascinated by a lot of the details in the movie, and how it must have caused such a stir back upon it’s release in 1973.
    Although even more interesting is the fact that it was limited to a small release, and then quickly disappeared from theatres a mere 2/3 weeks later.

  2. LESLIE DAVIS on December 10, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    ACCORDING TO A NEW BOOK THE DEVILS CHESSBOARD JFK WAS A THREAT TO US SECURITY AT THAT ERA OF THE RED SCARE AND COMMIES TAKING OVER. ALLEN DULLES AND THE POWER BROKERS OF THAT ERA WANTED HIM GONE AND WERE ABLE TO DO IT. I WAS SHOCKED WHEN RFK RAN FOR PRESIDENT AND HAD VERY LITTLE SECURITY HE HAD TO KNOW THAT HIS BROTHERS KILLERS WOULD THINK HE WAS A SERIOUS THREAT

  3. Robert Rutherford on November 3, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    I saw it originally in 1973 and it fit within the facts known at the time. Nay sayers were fools, given that Watergate Coverup, and other evidence shows the immoral right in its true colors. Remember the documentary about the ’30s, entitled, “Native Land,” which documented corporations killing labor leaders, workers who picketed for races, and others (you can see it on TCM, it premiered Nov. 2, 1016). Those who were against films like these and Oliver Stone’s work are worst than fools. They like their creature comforts at the hands of these white elitists who are no more than psychopaths running corporations. Even Leonard Maltin trashed this film, which shows you were he’s coming from. Another one who sticks his head in the sands. Where are all the true patriots gone? To graveyards every one.

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