Predecessor to Oliver Stone's 'JFK' this film was one of the first to present an alternative to the Warren Report version of events. Mixing narriative segments with newsreel footage, the film tells the story of a group of ... more »powerful men who plot the assasination. First they must recruit and train a shooter, then frame Lee Harvey Oswald. A must-see for history buffs and conspiracy theorists, some credit this film with re-opening the debate about Kennedy's assasination.« less
A movies that blends actual news footage of the Kennedy assassination with scripted film. May be the earliest movie I have seen so intertwine the two. The script follows the (for the most part plausible) conspiracy theory that JFK's assassination was planned by a group of ultra-rich right-wing industrialists. I think much of what caused JFK's death did have to do with his desire to pull out of VietNam and that Oswald was obviously a patsy. But Kennedy had upset the Insiders, and the Insiders only use the right-wing/left-wing dichotomy in a strategy of divide and conquer on the rest of us in order to consolidate their power. If the Insiders succeeded in 1963, just imagine how much better they are at it today. (They're still pretty sloppy - Gordon Kahl, Ruby Ridge, Waco, Vince Foster, Oklahoma City/Ken Trentadue, etc.) To note, this movie prophetically 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.'
Overlooked but far more persuasive than JFK
Jeffrey Ellis | Richardson, Texas United States | 09/28/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Executive Action is a stark, low budget docudrama about the assasination of John F. Kennedy. We watch as a cabal of old, rich white man plot the death of JFK and, in a starkly matter-of-fact way, the film details how they pulled it off. As opposed to Oliver Stone's later JFK, Executive Action goes to great pains to remain a rather cold recreation. Though this makes the film far more somber than Stone's, it also makes for a far more persuasive case. By not sensationalizing or resorting to emotional trickey, Executive Action forces you to consider the evidence for a conspiracy and, even if you're a skeptic like me, by the end of this film, you have to admit that there is a great deal of credible, if circumstancial, evidence to support the idea of a conspiracy. The conspirators, themselves, are deliberately kept obscure. We learn little about their backgrounds or individual personalities and, while some might complain that Executive Action doesn't contain any performances as crazed as say Joe Pesci in Stone's film, it actually works to help Executive Action avoid the hysterically paranoid feeling that Stone wallowed in. Whereas I think JFK ultimately caused more people to dismiss the idea of a conspiracy than accept it, Executive Action is powerfully persuasive. Every effort has been made to maintain a sense of realism. As well, Executive Action features the final performance of the great Robert Ryan. Though, unlike co-star Burt Lancaster, Ryan's become somewhat forgotten today, he was one of the braver movie actors working in the Hollywood of the '40s and '50s. He was a committed activist who was willing to take chances with his films if he believed in the message. Its obvious that this was a project that both he and Lancaster felt very deeply about and there's something gratifying in the fact that both of these very missed actors managed to create a message movie that actually manages to persuasively argue for its message. Lancaster and Ryan were represenatives of a courage that doesn't seem to have survived in today's Hollywood and, whether you agree with them or not, its hard not to respect the body of work they fought so hard to create.I have to admit that I've never been a big believer in conspiracy theories. I've never believed there were aliens hidden away in government hangars, never feared the Trialateral Commission, and I've always thought that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Call me a skeptic but I've always felt that conspiracy theories draw their strength from people being too frightened to accept that on the whole, we're all at the mercy of random fate. That being said, let me also admit that if any film could convince me to reexamine my disbelief, it would have to be Executive Action."
Chillingly On Target!
Mcgivern Owen L | NY, NY USA | 06/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Executive Action is about the conspiracy to assassinate President John F. Kennedy. The title refers to covert organizations euphemism for selected killings. Distinctions are important because EA does not try to prove that a deadly plot existed. EA is ABOUT the conspiracy itself! The pace is slow and chillingly deliberate. The film is totally free of excess and editorial. The conspirators are so calm, the dialog so matter of fact that the viewer could almost be eavesdropping on casual conversation between friends. Their motivation lay in Kennedy s failure to fully support the Bay of Pigs invasion, a nuclear treaty with Russia and his support of Civil Rights. Then there is Topic # 1-J.F.K.s apparent (!) intention to begin withdrawing troops from Vietnam in 1965. Profits decline in peacetime! Two veteran actors, Robert Ryan and Burt Lancaster are the right wing fanatics who decide to take 'Executive action" against the President. Both are excellent, especially the cynical Ryan. It is their calm "everyone is expendable" iciness that bites to the bone. They have "Done this Before". To them there is no difference between eliminating JFK or dispatching a troublesome Third World dictator. These string-pullers calmly put together a hit team as casually as forming a new finance department. There are two significant details: 1) there were not 1 but 3 shooters in Dallas that day and 2) the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald is treated as an unplanned afterthought. A strong point is the intermingling of historical documentary form the early 60s, which gives EA body and context. A weak point is the supporting cast. The supposedly professional assassins look liked they were drafted from the company softball team. The role of strip club owner Jack Ruby would be laughable if he had not been so important in real life. EA is a first rate low key film that failed to win recognition when it was first released. Conspiracy fans and conspiracy haters alike are encouraged to watch EA. Those who can?t learn anything will at least be entertained. A final thought. EA would have been ideal for a black and white format. It's curious the producers chose to colorize such a somber film."
Interesting, Makes You Think. Well-Made And Acted.
Mr. Fellini | El Paso, Texas United States | 10/13/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Before Oliver Stone's masterpiece, "JFK," there was this small film named "Executive Action" which also makes a case for shadowy forces behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Though not as thought-provoking and powerful as "JFK," "Executive Action" is a great piece of controversial film. The point here is not to inform the audience with a load full of dialogue and information, but to make the audience think with a staging of events that suggest a conspiracy behind the dark deed. We get some great performances and cross cutting of actual footage with live footage. I guess you could call this "A small triumph." "Executive Action" never gets boring and always keeps the viewer interested in what's going on. With scenes of just dialogue, you watch in intrigue. This isn't a "masterpiece," but "Executive Action" is a pretty good, intriguing, thought-provoking film that I think, many people should think. I highly recommend it."
Maltin bombed on this one
Dan | Realityville, USA | 05/11/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I almost didn't watch this movie when I saw Leonard Maltin had rated it a "Bomb," but I'm glad I did. I agree that the pace early on could have been quicker, but overall the movie presented its theory pretty well. While JFK was a mystery investigating a murder, this is a step-by-step recreation of how the crime might have happened. I'm not a conspiracy buff, and I felt this film presented some of the theories more clearly than did JFK, and seemed to make a better attempt at staying historically accurate."
Dan | 05/16/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Never mind Maltin's comments above, this is a skillfully crafted film, with fine understated performances and a brilliant, haunting score. Compared with ``JFK'', this is a far more plausible and chilling presentation. These are not whackos, but ordinary business people and professionals, ``trained and reliable'', as Burt Lancaster says; not New Orleans right wing homosexual looneys. Everyone here acts in what they believe is the best interest of the country; granted, a very whacked out fascist vision, in which killing off our excess population of ``poverty-prone whites'' is rational. But everyone involved is efficient and intelligent.Aside from a political drama, the movie excels at working in the facts of the case as well, particularly the relationship of the government with Oswald and the unbelievable, but true, mis-handling of the protection of the president (not that any improvements have apparently been made, unless someone can explain how a hooded Manson family member managed to stick a 45 into Jerry Ford's gut). Yes, some of the ``facts'' are false, particularly the time-worn legend of the D.C. phone system being out of order, but in the main the movie sucessfully blends fiction and reality. The overall tone of the movie is very respectful of the weight of the matter, on both sides. Even the conspirators view the assasination solemnly, and the score and film clips work together to leave a feeling of sadness and waste. If this fictional world was really true, then we know the conspirators failed to fulfill their vision of the world as much as Kennedy failed in his."