(director/writer: Leslie Woodhead; editor: Ian Meller; music: Malcolm Laws/Nainita Desai; cast: (Narrator Kevin Spacey), Clint Hill (Jackie Kennedy’s Secret Service Agent), Sid Davis (Reporter for Westinghouse Radio), Gene Boone (Deputy Sheriff), Buell Frazier (Oswald’s co-worker), Ruth Paine (Landlord and Friend of Marina Oswald), Robert Jackson(Photographer, Dallas Times-Herald), James Tague (Witness), Phyllis Hall (Nurse), Robert McClelland (Surgeon), Jim Leavelle (Homicide Detective, Dallas Police), Hugh Aynesworth (Reporter Dallas Morning News; Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lorraine McKechnie; Smithsonian Channel; 2013)

“A crisp and lucid made for TV historical documentary.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A crisp and lucid made for TV historical documentary by Leslie Woodhead(“The Hunt For Bin Laden”/”Nova”). The sad day President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, on November 22, 1963, is chronicled in this minute-by-minute account of that day. It’s narrated by Kevin Spacey, and features rare archival footage, insightful observations made by secret service agent Clint Hill and many other eyewitnesses. The most eerie observations were from the killer’s neighbor and work colleague, Buell Frazier, who on the day of the murder drove Oswald to work and told us what they talked about. The infamous day begins with the President giving a political breakfast speech in Fort Worth and it ends with the President in Dallas being shot at three times when his motorcade passed the Texas School Book Depository at 12:29 P.M. He was declared dead at 1 P.M. Though covering a familiar story, one that inspired many conspiracy theories, this one still seems fresh as it just sticks with the established facts and veers away from presenting any conspiracy theories. It’s a sobering look at the believed killer Lee Harvey Oswald, one that provides graphic details of the assassination that many might not have been aware of. In a haunting way it shows the moxie of the widowed First Lady and how the assassination changed America’s innocence forever. The film effectively captures the frantic moments of the tragedy, and reminds us of the following incidents that maybe never fully registered with us:

  • The secret service agent (Clint Hill) on the parade route feeling guilty that he was too late to help.
  • The grief-stricken surgeon (Robert McClelland) telling us what he saw that day in the trauma room in Parkland Hospital.
  • The co-worker (Buell Frazier) wrongly accused of JFK’s murder, still reacting at the present to how the police harshly questioned him at the time.
  • The confusion of the Russian speaking woman (Ruth Paine) who discovered she had sheltered the President’s assassin.
  • A grassy knoll bystander (James Tague) who was grazed by one of the bullets fired at JFK.