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JFK - A Presidency Revealed (History Channel)

4.6 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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(Oct 28, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

He was a young hero who brought the promise of a new era to the Oval Office. But the dream of Camelot was extinguished by an assassin s bullet just 1,000 days later. Forty years after his death, the legacy--and mystery--of John F. Kennedy continues to grow.

From secret liaisons to the details of cabinet deliberations during the Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK: A PRESIDENCY REVEALED provides the most in-depth look at the man and his administration ever filmed. Peabody Award-winning producer David Taylor (The Johnson Tapes) and host Frank Sesno draw on an extraordinary array of never-before-released source material, including JFK s White House audiotapes and Soviet footage from Kennedy s sole superpower summit, to write new chapters in the story of America s 35th president.

DVD Features: Two Episodes of A&E s Award-Winning Series BIOGRAPHY® JFK: A Personal Story and Joseph Kennedy, Sr.: Father of an American Dynasty; Interactive Menu; Scene Selection

JFK: A Presidency Revealed delves unflinchingly into the presidency of John F. Kennedy, examining the political crises, social unrest, and personal intricacies that marked his administration. What makes this three-part series stand out is its willingness to admit Kennedy's faults--in particular his troubled marriage, his infidelities, his illnesses, and his sometimes-excessive use of painkillers to cope with the pain of his bad back--as well as the missteps of his presidency, providing a strikingly balanced and human portrait of this all-too-often-mythologized president. Particularly revelatory is how the inexperience that resulted in the bungled Bay of Pigs operation led, in turn, to a far more skilled and careful handing of the Cuban missile crisis, in which the world came closer to nuclear war than ever before and perhaps ever since. A wealth of film, video, photographs, and previously unreleased secret recordings provide new insights into Kennedy's political and personal life (Kennedy was, as this documentary makes clear, the first president to really use the media to achieve his goals, launching an entirely new political forum).

Accompanying JFK: A Presidency Revealed are two episodes of A&E's Biography series--one a considerably more hero-worshipping profile of Kennedy that nonetheless provides worthwhile background information about his childhood and early career; the other a profile of JFK's father Joe P. Kennedy that explores the drive and ambition that set the entire Kennedy family on its political path. All in all, a valuable and informative document. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features

  • Two bonus episodes of A&E's Biography: JFK: A Personal Story and Joseph Kennedy Sr.: Father of an American Dynasty

Product Details

  • Actors: John F. Kennedy, JFK
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: A&E HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: October 28, 2003
  • Run Time: 300 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000DC11X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,208 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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This outstanding documentary is the most recent, and probably the most accurate, portrait of JFK's dramatic and controversial Presidency. Created by the History Channel and aired in November 2003 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of JFK's assassination, this documentary offers many new insights into JFK's life and political career. Most of this story will seem familiar (perhaps too familiar) to any Kennedy buff - we follow JFK from his brilliant inaugural speech in January 1961 through the many crises of his "thousand days" in office - the Bay of Pigs disaster in early 1961, the disastrous summit meeting with Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev in Austria, his brilliant trip to Paris with his wife Jacqueline, the Berlin Wall crisis, the civil rights battles in the South, and of course the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 and the subsequent easing of tensions with the Soviets in 1963.

However, if this were all the DVD offered then it would be rather dull to viewers who have studied or read a good deal about the Kennedys. In my opinion this documentary stands out for four reasons: 1) It is more objective and realistic than most previous JFK documentaries, which were either "hatchet jobs" that portrayed JFK as a modern-day Caligula or Nero who wallowed in decadence and debauchery, or admiring "lovefests" that insisted upon seeing Kennedy as the shining knight of a modern "Camelot". This documentary views JFK as neither a heroic saint nor a perverted devil, but rather as a deeply flawed and complicated fellow whose administrative and foreign-policy inexperience often get him into trouble, but whose genuine political skills and flexibility combine to save him when the trouble comes. JFK is also shown as a man who learns from his mistakes and rarely makes the same mistake twice.
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The History Channel's "JFK: A Presidency Revealed" is a nice, polished presentation, featuring new interviews with many people who knew Jack Kennedy best, including brother Edward Kennedy, Robert McNamara (JFK's Defense Secretary), Cecil Stoughton (Official White House photographer during the three JFK years), Time Magazine's Hugh Sidey, and close friend Ben Bradlee, plus several others.

The main program on this double-DVD set originally aired in November 2003, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of JFK's tragic death. The program clocks in at a leisurely-paced 2 hours and 35 minutes, giving the documentary time to breathe (so to speak), with ample time given to each major event which dotted the JFK administration.

Topics range from Inauguration Day in January 1961, to the disastrous Bay Of Pigs invasion of Cuba just three months later, plus extensive chapters on the Civil Rights struggle that JFK had to face during his term, Kennedy's Vienna summit meeting with Soviet leader Khrushchev, and the frightening Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962.

The program also dwells a great deal on JFK's ill health during nearly every one of his 1,037 days as the 35th U.S. Chief Executive. It's hard to believe, after seeing pictures and films of him in seemingly good physical condition, that there were, in fact, many times during his tenure in office when he couldn't even bend over to pick up some papers on his desk or to tie his own shoes, because the pain in his back was so intense.

We're also treated to several audio clips from recently-released tape recordings made by JFK while in the Oval Office. There's one particular audio snippet here that's very nearly worth the price of this DVD all by itself.
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This Documentary features many outstanding color newsreels of JFK and that era. Everything but the last 20 minutes or so is thorough, fair,& quite impressive, but Vietnam was handled very poorly. The thrust of the film being that JFK would have had to have sent ground troops at some point to bolster American Prestige is pure speculation at best. When Kennedy signed NSAM 263 in Oct. 63- he didn't do it for the hell of it,it was the first phase in withdrawing all troops by the end of '65. Though, the Diem Coup of 11-1-63 complicated matters, there is no evidence JFK ever considered putting in ground forces.The Assassination is just hardly even touched on- , but paraphrasing- the back brace is supposed to have kept Kennedy in place when Oswald's shot him in the neck. First of all JFK was shot in the back- The Autopsy Face Sheet- The Death Certificate-The 2 FBI Agents report, and the Clothes and Jacket all put the wound in the back at 5-6 inches below the neck line.It was the Warren Commission who moved this up to the Neck to make the Single Bullet Theory Viable.Secondly,- a metal plate was put in his lumbar spine in Jul. 53 to alleviate pressure, this is what so sadly kept him immobilized during the shooting,the man had no mobility.
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This is remarkable piece of work. The only way to do justice to this complex, bright, sensitive and fascinating man is to paint him in the full, giving us the three dimensional image. This documentary does just that, and Kennedy himself would want no less. It enables the viewer to reach back to a rapidly fading time, and feel the void that his passing has left. Like everyone else, he had his human failings and foibles, but these fall into insignificance when compared to his understanding of the human condition and the great movements of history.
You can see at the end of the third part where the bystanders during the anniversary celebrations in Berlin well-up at the sound of his voice delivering his speech from a tape to the modern crowd after 40 years of silence.
What comes through most, however, from this piece of work is his happy courage in the face of great personal adversity. This is the reason why we refuse to forget him and fight to keep him fresh in our minds.
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