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Executive Action

151 customer reviews

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Executive Action + Confessions From The Grassy Knoll: The Shocking Truth + Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Executive Action (DVD)

Screen legend Burt Lancaster stars in this fictional account of a plot against President Kennedy by a powerful group of political conspirators who object to his foreign and domestic policies as a threat to their control of the economy. A topic of constant curiosity, even decades after the assassination. Scripted by one of the infamous "Hollywood Ten," blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo ("Johnny Got His Gun").


As JFK-conspiracy movies go, Executive Action is distinguished by being one of the earliest and one of the best. This speculative drama draws together some of the theories floating around in 1973 and lay them out in dry, unadorned fashion. At the center of the conspiracy is a group of right-wing muckymucks who quietly plan the assassination of the president (thanks to their fears about Vietnam, civil rights, and whatever else might be handy). Burt Lancaster is the most prominent name in the cast, although the film gets much of its gravity from the weathered presence of Robert Ryan, the superb character actor who died not long after completing the project. Will Geer and John Anderson are also in on the plot. Scripted by Hollywood pro (and former blacklistee) Dalton Trumbo, the film is unrelentingly grim, but there's something about its very flatness that makes it that much eerier. Oliver Stone would take the opposite approach in his pinwheeling JFK, but this simple accounting is just as creepy. --Robert Horton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan, Will Geer, Gilbert Green, John Anderson
  • Directors: David Miller
  • Writers: Dalton Trumbo
  • Producers: Edward Lewis
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: October 23, 2007
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (151 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JMA5
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,867 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Executive Action" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 92 people found the following review helpful By Mcgivern Owen L on June 23, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
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.Read more ›
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 10, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I'm glad to see this film getting a positive response on the internet, which suggests among the public in general. The producers intended it as a filmic rebuttal to the Warren Report, handing out printed pamphlets to theater-goers of the time, suggesting what they could do to counter the cover-up. Unfortunately, coming at the height of the Vietnam pull-out and Watergate, the appeal got lost in the welter of events. Needless to say, the movie got almost no publicity from the media except what could be privately purchased, which except for a few major cities was not much. Moreover, establishment critics either panned the film or ignored it totally. (Leonard Maltin's shameless travesty being an example of the former.) The movie itself features such veterans of principled Hollywood liberalism as Robert Ryan, Burt Lancaster, and John Anderson, and blacklistees like Will Geer and the writer Dalton Trumbo. People with a grudge? Perhaps, but also insiders able to take the evidence and think outside the box.

Besides dramatizing events in fascinating fashion, the film's script handles two important points well. First, the assassination is clearly presented in historical context, such that the viewer has a clear idea from Kennedy's own words the kind of threat his emerging policies posed to entrenched domestic and foreign policy interests. Too often, the killing is either wrenched from this vital context or diverted into other contexts less threatening to what Eisenhower aptly termed the military-industrial complex. Second, the film concentrates on the string-pullers and experienced assassination teams, not on the details of the coverup itself. Concentrating on the latter would risk credibility should this or that detail be disproven.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Robert Blake on October 12, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
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.
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104 of 119 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Ellis on September 28, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
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.Read more ›
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Topic From this Discussion
How many people died as a result of the Kennedy assassination
Add at least all of the U.S. soldiers who died in Vietnam due to the post-Kennedy escalation.
Nov 28, 2007 by Truthbetold |  See all 9 posts
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