Next Wednesday (November 22) will mark the 60th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Over the years, the murder has stoked numerous conspiracy theories regarding whether Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin or, if he was involved, the lone assassin. Showtime has added fuel to the fire this month with its new documentary, JFK: What the Doctors Saw, a look at what the Parkland hospital doctors said immediately after inspecting President Kennedy upon his arrival. It’s an interesting and thought-provoking film and I highly recommend it.
Here are our top five films and documentaries about the JFK assassination, starting with the most famous and debated.
1. JFK (1991)
Oliver Stone’s JFK is brilliant filmmaking but, arguably, suspect history. The director takes the many mysteries surrounding Oswald’s actions leading up to the murder and concocts a complex web of conspiracy involving nearly every member of the government. Kevin Costner is at his Jimmy Stewart best as New Orleans prosecutor Jim Garrison who tried to convict a shady Louisiana businessman of being in a plot to kill the president. And the supporting lineup is Hall of Fame worthy with such notables as Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Tommy Lee Jones, Sissy Spacek, Joe Pesci, and Gary Oldman (as Oswald). Despite the loose history, the cast and Stone’s meticulous attention to detail and powerful storytelling make JFK a must-watch for anyone intrigued by the many facets of the Kennedy assassination.
Streaming for free on Tubi.
2. Parkland (2013)
Parkland offers a unique perspective by focusing on the individuals peripheral to the assassination, such as the medical staff at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. The film chronicles the chaos and emotional turmoil experienced by those directly involved in the aftermath of Kennedy’s shooting. With a talented ensemble cast, including Zac Efron and Paul Giamatti, “Parkland” provides a poignant look at the human side of this historic tragedy.
Streaming now for free on The Roku Channel.
3. The Assassination & Mrs. Paine
This documentary examines the life of the mysterious Dallas woman who befriended Oswald and his wife prior to the assassination. Many conspiracy theorists believe she was a CIA ‘handler’ for Oswald. Paine denied it repeatedly, but her past connections and actions continue to spark interest in her life.
Streaming for $3.99 on Google Play.
4. Oswald’s Ghost (2007)
Oswald’s Ghost takes a closer look at Oswald and the many lingering questions surrounding his role in the assassination. Director Robert Stone explores the complex personality of Oswald and the impact his actions had on the course of history. This documentary goes beyond the typical conspiracy theories, offering a nuanced exploration of the enigmatic figure at the center of the controversy.
Streaming free on Vimeo.
5. Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?
PBS’ Frontline took a stab at solving the Oswald mystery with this investigative report on the man and his numerous connections to government officials in Russia and the United States. Great work.
Streaming free on YouTube. See below:
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