Document Type: 
Document Number (FOIA) /ESDN (CREST): 
Release Decision: 
Original Classification: 
Document Page Count: 
Document Creation Date: 
December 16, 2016
Document Release Date: 
October 29, 2004
Sequence Number: 
Case Number: 
Publication Date: 
November 14, 1973
Content Type: 
PDF icon CIA-RDP88-01365R000300070006-4.pdf152.08 KB
Approved For //' ,r), 4 4( WASHINGTON rosz P 0 ( G- e se 2005/01/1.3 : u1m'-rcur08-01365R0003000 71 .?1 ? '7" Tiro A./ ?P I frr f ff0 .? ki ei tar? .0 I f By Gary Arnold if the falsil)ing techniques used in the new melodrama "Executive Ac-. Don," openim today at half-a-dozen area theaters, had been practiced by slightly linire talented filmmakers, the result ni i,ht have been an effec- tive and even dangerous piece of cine- matic agitprop. The idea is to juxtapose images of President. Kennedy during the last five months of his life with fictional scenes of a group of rich. rii.dit-wing conspirators, 1(*.arfol. of civil rights' and detente, who plot and carry out the assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, .1963. In this context the documentary footage shills for the fictional footage. We're invited to confuse the two, re- calling so many fond memories and regrets during the documentary stuff that we neglect to view the fictional. .stuff with the skepticism it deserves. r Film j Obviously, the device is sus- penseful, or at least potentially sus- penseful. We appear to be following the movements of the documentary Kennedy and his movie assassins more or less simultaneously. until their movements fatefully coincide in Dallas. It's a bit like the buildup used in "The Day of the Jackal." The concept Might have proved spellbinding and emotionally devastat- ing in the hands of a director like Costa-Gavras. The saving grace of 'Executive Action"---derived from a Polemical suspense novel by Donald Freed and Mark Lane?is that it's the work of feeble, butterfingered old Hollywood manipulators. While they obviously want to manipulate us, their devices have grown so transparent and their craftsmanship im perfunctory that "Executive Action.' is likely to fool only those people who believe everything they see on a movie screen or those who still can't look at images of President Kennedy without having their critical faculties numbed by grief. Producer Edward Lewis. director David Miller and screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, the trio principally respon- sible for -ENceutive Action," collabo- rated 11 years ago 00 tile Kirk D . has picture "1.uncly Are the Drave," an eN-ciling chase melodrama inter- rupted now then for Trumbo's in- mental effusions about the demise of the nonconforming American. Lewis and Trumho were previously associated on "Spaiitacus." Lewis and ? Burt Lancaster, one of the co-stars of "Executive Actio were previously associated on John initiolkenheimer's movie version of "Seven Days in May." David 'Miller, now tit, began in the movie business back in .1930. and "Lonely Are the Brave" is no doubt the high point of his career. In the credit sequence we see the names of the leading actors -- Lancaster, Robert. Ryan and. Will Geer--super- imposed over images of, re- spectively, an oil refinery, a stock exchange and a bank vault. if one approaches this movie in a slightly cynical spirit, it's amusing- to ask yourselr if these symnols are supposed to represent- Ken- nedy or the conspiraions, par- ticultirlyi when the movie fails' to follow iitirouidi ade- quately on the subliminal suggestions. Ryan and (leer are plutocrats of some sort, but Lancaster appears to be in the employ of an unspe- cified government a gen e y, presumably the CIA,. Of course, one doesn't need crib notes to catch onto the suggestion the film- makers want ? the clearly imply that Kennedy was killed because he was a threat to wealth and privi- lege. But it's typical of these filmmakers that they .ean't even put over their own lit- ' tie deceits in a subtle. cred- ible or consistent fastion. The fictional scene opens at a country estate some- where or other where Lan- caster inal Ryan attempt to. persuade a reltictinit (leer that Kennedy must be assas- sirrited. The dialogue in this and subsequent scenes makes one wonder if Dalton Trumbo labored without credit on -Tonal Tonal Tonal" fie repeats the same ponder- ous cadences and dny-as-citisti expository dialogue, read by actors evidently told they were playing nmehanical men. in addition. Trum bo writes in the iiiiispericis. At- ter one actor finishes con- veying a piece of informa- tion, another im un ii a tidy art i culat cs the react ion dramatic writing I've ever listened to?like an oratorio' with the music omitted-2 and it's a giant clue to what, ails the elder left wing lywood crowd as eitheli wouldihe persuaders on would-u' a fists. Trumbo gives his conspifizi ators what I consider a pe- culiarly unconvineiqg set of motives for the killing. Ile asserts that they act because Kennedy is about to "lead the black revolution, initiate. a test-ban treaty with the Russians and pull out of etnam." These fears are go- ing to be met with consider- able cynicism in a lot of col- lege (and noncollege) towns around the country, but for the moment let's ignore a 'point that canny fihnmakers shouldif t ignore--namely, that history has played some dirty, discrediting tricks on Kelinedy's liberal image. The point is that these motives would make sense only in extreme, demerate right-wing circles, among men .so divorced from nor- mal political commerce and ? influence that they could willfully misconstrue Ken- nedy's statements and poli- cies. The slip-up in "Executive Action" is that the conspirators are por- trayed as insiders to the ex- tent that they're character- ized at all. These are rich, powerful 'Melt who Seen] to have impeccable sources in the highest councils of i,,,ov- eimment. Indeed, their iii- formation is so good that they pull Mil the assassina- tion without a hitch. If they're this- formed and well-connected to begin with, why aren't I bin hip to :Kennedy's cssentiid. conservatism and why can't they get his ear': Trunitm tries to have his cake and eat it. Do can't ii;.- sist making the c.linsuiratons sophi.;(icatcd, worldly 1N pes power .1-giireS lit -?cerini to en,..y and admire. tic ,itiiii' licve the Reds and the blacks will overwhelm White Civilization any min- ute now. fIowever. I think the real giveaway in "Executive Ac- tion" i I n,.s. tact that these filnimuil' -s ean5t. . envision an assassination plot in which lJee Iltuivey Oswald was involved. Despite ap- ?pearances, it is not such a big deal to ? make a film questioning the verdict of the Warren Commission. If the Gallup Boll is correct, two-thuds of the. Aniericali public question that verdict, at least to the extent of doubting that Oswald ?pet"- ated alone. ? In "Executive Action" Os- wald is a Poor, unfortunate fall guy, precisely for that role by a computer. liii a difficult theory to swallow, particularly -when one looks :lila listens to Os- wald ay.atn in his brief au: pearanees berorc history's cameras and microphones. One gets the impression of a devious boy and maybe a schizophtin-tte boy hi/ t not ol till infweenI, boy. However, he could not be anything. but innocent to this group of sentimental melodrama- lists. Ile is the Little who gets victimized by the Big Men. One cliche is un- thinkable without the other. There's no esOiping the fact that the release ,ate of -.Executive .Action" is taste- less in the extreme. If the men responsible for rualcint: and distributing this picture were tru:IN, iinerested in the truth and nothitw the truth, why couldn't the:t' have resisted the tempta'oon to release it on ihe eve ol the tOth anniversary 01 Ken- nedy's assas,anal ion? it's not as if the reliabilit,\ of the \V al' ten UonIntissi (el is 2111 iSsile 1 lint ticoAS to he settled this month. is Ilti ongoing conlroversy, awl if this movie has it pertinent theory, that theory won't he less pertinent next month or time he es oontinuea Inn-olio wants irom the them urnvoZIE.y Q.J44idujk evitaltle public servic ments, which took PPM* rp, FL. iRelease 20-05101143 c[CIA,-RDR8841(365KPIRAWyp406-4 e antitunee- .. ral, unconvincing style of !tin iviiing fanatics who be,i Approved For Release 2005/01/13 : CIA-RDP88-01365R000300070006-4 next year. It's dilcienit to re- sist the conelos.ioo that the filmmakers We 1.0 111(lie C011- rt Wi HI I main charwe and timed_ the re-. lo%se in accord maximum 1."(Nmi1)e potential f Or ballyhoo itid exploltation. Approved For Release 2005/01/13 : CIA-RDP88-01365R000300070006-4 2