30 June 2009

Executive Action

Executive Action
is sort of like the older, more boring brother of Oliver Stone's JFK. It's an incredibly sober account of a possible conspiracy theory behind the assassination, shot in documentary style. It's painstakingly slow, but actually pays very little attention to detail, the characters are vaguely constructed, no actual government agencies are named other than the Dallas Police, the dialogue is even more vague than the characters speaking it. The conspiracy described is similar to that in Oliver Stone's film, with a few nuanced differences. The only real credence that I can give to the film is that it was made almost twenty years before JFK, making it the first film of its kind (that kind being a real movie with a movie star (Burt Lancaster) about the JFK assassination conspiracy theories).

Executive action" refers to a real 1950s CIA term for assassination operations (ie Che Guevera and Fidel Castro), which was outlawed by the Ford administration in 1976. The film does little more than illustrate this term, combining stock footage and docudrama. The plot is, basically: A bunch of old guys get together (who exactly they are is vague; one assumes a collection of oil barons, bankers, senators, CIA black ops dudes) and plot to kill JFK, because he wants to get America out of Vietnam, but really they seem to just resent everything about him. This is followed by a slow recreation of all the steps of the conspiracy, most of which you've already seen in JFK, including doctoring the photo of Oswald with the rifle, setting up the triangulated fire, blah blah.

Some code that says "executive action" that needs to be deciphered for some reason

There were a couple things about this movie that were new/interesting/exciting:

Aerial film of the grassy knoll, etc:

According to this particular theory, Oswald was the patsy, but did not actually fire any weapon, and an Oswald double was used to establish his presence as a communist in New Orleans and Dallas. These scenes are hilarious, because, basically, the Oswald double goes to random places like the rifle store, causes a commotion by being an asshole and a pinko (at a car dealership he criticizes the salesman's American made cars), and then, when asked for his name, he pronounces very clearly, "LEE HARVERY OSWALD, O-S-W-A-L-D."

There's another cool tidbit at the end of the film, which is that of eighteen witnesses of the assassination, sixteen died within five years of 1963, the probability of which happening, according to some British newspaper, was 100 trillion to one. One witness died of a karate chop.

One more nuance is that the conspiracy described is of a much smaller scale than that of JFK and other sources. The Dallas police wasn't involved, they were just inept. In fact, very few people were involved, and they relied on the basic ineptness of everyone surrounding the president.

Oswald in this film is not developed much. He's simply a patsy, one who fits the needs of the conspirators. But there is plenty of stock footage, actually more than I've seen before, and there's something captivating about Oswald's demeanor before the press and police, something that allows one to question what really happened and what he really knew.

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