Remembering JFK: Top 5 Kennedy-Centered Productions

Posted Friday November 22, 2013 9:10 AM GMT

It’s hard to believe that it’s been half a century since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while traveling in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas.

And on the 50th anniversary of this momentous event, GossipCenter looks at a handful of films (as well as a miniseries and a Made-for-TV movie) that were inspired by one of the most beloved Commanders-in-Chief America has ever known.

“JFK” (1991) [ Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Jack Lemmon]

Given the persistent conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, director Oliver Stone sought to add to the conversation with this epic 3-hour opus. Kevin Costner makes a convincing New Orleans district attorney who discovers there’s more to the story than the feds admit, supplemented with star power from Gary Oldman and Jack Lemmon

“JFK” received mixed reviews, as Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers declared, “As speculation, JFK is riveting. As proof, it's bunk. Stone has turned what he considers the crime of the century into a disturbing anomaly -- a dishonest search for truth.





“Parkland” (2013) [ Zac Efron, Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thornton]

Seeking uniqueness amidst the preponderance of Kennedy assassination projects, “Parkland” looks at the chaotic events that occurred when the just-shot President Kennedy arrived at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and subsequently died. Additionally, there’s a whole “we had Lee Harvey Oswald in custody and let him go” component to the story, and Billy Bob Thornton flawlessly depicts rabid Secret Service Agent Forrest Sorrels as he sniffs out mistake after mistake.

However, Kyle Smith of the New York Post, like many of his peers, didn’t buy it. “Parkland takes one of the most traumatizing events of the American 20th century and turns it into a trivia digest.”



“Thirteen Days” (2000) [Kevin Costner, Bruce Greenwood, Shawn Driscoll]

Though it wasn’t as devastating as JFK’s assassination, the Cuban Missile Crisis was a massive milestone in Kennedy’s truncated administration. “Thirteen Days” looks at the emotional climate at the White House during the events of October 1962 and effectively drives home the impact of this prolific event.

Overall, Costner & Co. scored a win with audiences and critics. “Who would've thought this nearly 40-year-old piece of history could be turned into such a riveting motion picture?” wrote Eric Harrison of the Houston Chronicle.





“The Kennedys” (2011) [Greg Kinnear, Katie Holmes, Barry Pepper, Tom Wilkinson]

Featuring a fabulous multi-generational cast, “The Kennedys” was initially plagued with the problem of finding a home. Given its 8-part miniseries format, the project eventually landed at ReelzChannel where it went on to score 4 Primetime Emmy trophies.

“The Kennedys” is told in the same style as “The Godfather,” examining a powerful family legacy inclusive of debilitating dysfunction, betrayal, and conflict. While the Kennedys seemed healthy on the surface, they were anything but.

Viewers tended to favor the project, while writers like The Washington Post’s Hank Stuever snarked, "If you check your calendar, we're nearing the 50th anniversary of JFK's death, which makes him, his family and Cabinet members as fair game as King Arthur, Guinevere, Merlin and the gang, who've had their stories updated, revised and pillaged for centuries now.”



“Killing Kennedy” (2013) [ Rob Lowe, Ginnifer Goodwin, Will Rothhaar, Michelle Trachtenberg]

Based on the book by Bill O’Reilly, “Killing Kennedy” set viewership records for the National Geographic Channel. This Made-For-TV movie focuses on both Kennedy’s life and death (and alleged proclivities) as well as the world of assassin Lee Harvey Oswald and the way the FBI completely botched their investigation of him.

Nancy DeWolf Smith of The Wall Street Journal loved “Killing Kennedy,” noting, “It’s subversive in a great way. The more the pathology of Oswald is developed...the more it resembles what propels many conspiracy theorists.”



 

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