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Four Days in November [VHS]
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In 1964, superstar producer David Wolper entrusted a then-fledgling director named Mel Stuart with the first documentary about the year-old assassination of John F. Kennedy. Stuart went on to a successful, diverse career, interspersing such popular feature films as If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with an array of interesting nonfiction work, including The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Wattstax, and the moving The Unfinished Journey of Robert F. Kennedy. But with Four Days in November, he and Wolper paved the way for a certain modernity in the look and feel of a thoroughly researched documentary about a painful subject. Much of the film is compiled from television kinescopes of live TV coverage in Dallas on that fateful day, ordered in such a way as to offer viewers who lived through the events a sense of perspective, clarification, and perhaps closure. The myriad conspiracy theories that immediately appeared in the wake of Kennedy's death (not to mention Jack Ruby's murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, footage of which is included here) are examined and dismissed, though in fairness much, much else has been discovered since then to keep suspicions alive. The most fascinating and unexpected sequence, perhaps, is a clip from David Frost's old comedy show on British television, That Was the Week That Was, in which Frost, actor Roy Kinnear (Willy Wonka, interestingly enough), and others talk about their personal feelings regarding Kennedy. --Tom Keogh
Top Customer Reviews
This 1964 black-&-white documentary, skillfully narrated by actor Richard Basehart, was filmed only months after the events, making the "re-creations" that were filmed for this movie all the more effective, since the people involved, the locations, the landmarks, and even the automobiles had not changed to a great degree (if at all) since the tragedy occurred. I truly had the sense of being there BEFORE it happened because of the very good re-created scenes.
This wonderfully-edited chronological documentary guides the viewer through all four of those dark November days that shocked the nation in late 1963. An integral part of this program lies in its outstanding musical score, by Elmer Bernstein. Mr. Bernstein's stirring score fits just perfectly here, adding emotional impact to each portion of the film.
In addition to many re-created scenes, there is a hefty amount of stock news footage presented throughout this 123-minute film -- some of which you probably have seen before, and some you probably haven't. The Joan Crawford/Richard Nixon clip was one I'd never seen in the past, as well as the footage of Lee Harvey Oswald's funeral, which nearly no one attended.
One particular "re-created" scene in the film that has an especially "eerie" feeling to it is the scene where we see Wesley Frazier driving his 1953 Chevrolet sedan toward the "drab bulk" of the Texas School Book Depository Building, which looms ahead in the foreground. Frazier was the 19-year-old Depository co-worker of Lee Harvey Oswald's who gave Oswald a ride to work on the morning of the President's assassination.
The "Zapruder Film" is not represented in this documentary. It was to be yet another 11 years before the public at large was to see Mr. Zapruder's infamous film. "Four Days" does include a sequence from the "Nix Film", however.
Wolper Productions sidestepped all the conspiracy theories [thank goodness] and stuck by the Warren Commission Report for this documentary.
Many of the facts surrounding JFK's assassination have been disputed and debated by researchers for decades. And this tragic crime will likely remain a topic that shall cause heated discussion for many more years to come.
But what the film "Four Days In November" does accomplish is to allow the viewer to re-live those sorrowful November days, in the order in which the events transpired, based on the evidence available. This is definitely one program that deserves to be in anyone's JFK collection.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
assassin but its contemporary footage provides an...Read more
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