Written by: Reg Gadney
Directed by: Jim Goddard
Starring: Martin Sheen, John Shea, E.G. Marshall, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Vincent Gardenia, and Blair Brown
- Original footage of Kennedy’s Inaugural Address
- 30-minute film by the DoD regarding the Cuban Missile Crisis
- Excerpts from Kennedy’s historic Berlin Wall speech
- 19-minute film of Kennedy’s last trip to Texas, including footage from the two cities he visited before Dallas and footage from a limo behind the President in the Dallas motorcade
- Documentary of the Kennedy presidency from the JFK Library in Boston
- Never-before-seen footage
Released by: Wellspring
Anamorphic: N/A; presented in its original 1.33:1 format
My Advice: Get it if you’re interested in American history
[ad#longpost]Even the anti-Kennedy camp that hates his brothers and/or how his presidency was referred to as “Camelot” cannot deny the man’s importance in American history. Now this new set from Wellspring helps us see how this is true and why even his detractors need to know about him and his accomplishments. One of the most popular and controversial presidents in American history, the impact of Kennedy’s time in office is felt even today.
As for the acting, it is absolutely amazing how much Sheen looks like JFK. But he not only looks like Kennedy, he moves and sounds like Kennedy, warts and all. It is incredible how well Sheen mimics Kennedy’s mannerisms, motions, and even his walk. Blair Brown as the First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy is similarly wonderful: by turns sweet, shrewish, and not nearly as clueless as you might think she would be about her husband’s infidelities. Keep an eye out for Gardenia’s portrayal of J. Edgar Hoover, as well.
The treatment given the famous scandals and limitations of this president is quite even-handed. The directors do not turn away from Kennedy’s notorious womanizing, but also manage to capture how much this President actually cared about the country at the same time. Gifted men can also be faulty men, and this miniseries reminds us that we know the truth of that from our own history.
The features are absolutely beyond reproach here. The original footage of the Inaugural Address is a marvelous addition–a piece of history that cannot be faked or replaced. Similarly, we also get to see snippets from Kennedy’s important speech at the Berlin Wall, including the famous “ich bin ein Berliner,” beginning a process that would culminate in the eventual dismantling of the wall over twenty years later, as well as part of the fateful motorcade trip in Texas. As a special treat, viewers are also provided with a fantastic short film by the Department of Defense regarding the Cuban Missile Crisis, an important period in American history that is all too often overlooked or forgotten for splashier things like the Vietnam War and the Depression. Finally, there is a very nicely done documentary concerning the Kennedy presidency as a whole, with some new footage that should please anyone fascinated by the American political scene or modern history.
In short, whether you are a Kennedy fan or an opponent, you should be pleased with the treatment given the political force of nature here. Those people enthralled by American history will appreciate the attention given to this most interesting period of the modern age, and even those of us who are not usually captivated by all things American will appreciate the chance to learn something important. A great choice also for parents and teachers who want to show some kids that history is more than war and military men.