Under the Radar

'Killing Kennedy' Supports the Official Version

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Bill O'Reilly's Killing Kennedy was a massive bestseller and the followup to his Killing Lincoln. Nat Geo TV had a lot of success with a Killing Lincoln TV movie that played like a documentary with live reenactments and quickly followed up with a straight drama feature starring Rob Lowe as JFK. Killing Kennedy was the most-watched program in the history of the channel and it's now out on Blu-ray and DVD.

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The movie speeds by in 87 minutes and plays like a Cliff's Notes version of the Lone Gunman story, a counterpoint to the epic conspiracy theories of Oliver Stone's JFK. Rob Lowe looks like JFK, makes a grand attempt at the accent and Ginnifer Goodwin gets a lot of screen time as Jacqueline Kennedy.

The script contrasts the Kennedy marriage with Lee Harvey and Marina Oswald's relationship. Lee gets almost as much screen time as Jack here.

Since most hardcore Kennedy assassination buffs believe the Warren Report was a whitewash, they're not going to like this movie. Anyone who grew up reading about the era will probably be frustrated at just how superficial this version of the story is.

Still, the success of the movie is a reminder that a huge chunk of the population is too young to remember the '60s and '70s and they don't know a lot of the historical narrative that old people take from granted. Bill O. wasn't afraid to tell a Reader's Digest version of the story for those folks and it turns out he understood there's an audience for this. If you don't know much about JFK, the performances are strong and the movie never gets bogged down in any boring stuff.

There's an Extended Cut here that adds a full 2 1/2 minutes somewhere. There's a Making Of documentary and an interview with Bill O'Reilly about the production. Apparently, there was some kind of tax credit deal behind the making of this movie because there's also a very short "Virginia is for Lovers" tourism commercial tacked on to the extras.

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