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Beginner’s Guide to the Zapruder film alterationists’ case


Paul Rigby
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The purpose of this thread is to furnish a one-stop shop for those commencing their exploration of the issue: It isn’t to provide yet another pretext for the renewal of old hostilities. To that end, I urge the anti-alterationists to establish an equivalent thread.

Here’s the deal – we respect each others threads, and keep them purely for reading lists, suggested links, extracts etc. The ultimate goal, upon which both sides should surely be able to agree, is to relocate the debate on the most informed and rational ground we can. That means giving newcomers the widest range of information and options possible – on both sides of the argument.

There is no party line. I happen to be an unrepentent in-car shootist - but I neither seek nor desire to limit contributions to the like-minded. All I do insist upon is a commitment to the rational exposition of the case for alteration. Fair enough?

To kick-start the thread, I begin, appropriately enough, with the very first sustained written assault on the Z-film’s veracity. It’s only part of the chapter concerned, and contains much with which I profoundly disagree. Yet I remain deeply in its debt. So, too, do many others, as we shall see in future postings:

Fred T. Newcomb & Perry Adams. Murder From Within (Santa Barbara, CA: Probe, 1974): From chapter 4, The Filmed Assassination:

One of the most important films of the murder was an 8 mm color movie taken by Abraham Zapruder. The Secret Service had first access to his original film, which was then altered in an attempt to cover up the agency’s part in the plot.

Zapruder stood mid-way between the depository and the underpass (1) and filmed the Presidential limousine from the time it turned the corner of Elm and Houston Streets until it reached the triple underpass. His untampered film recorded what occurred inside the vehicle.

A number of copies of the Zapruder film, whose clarity ranged from excellent to poor, including the films and slides at Life magazine and those at the National Archives, were made available to the authors. Each copy was carefully examined and this chapter deals basically with the results of that examination.

A movie is a series of individual pictures, or frames, in consecutive order (2). In describing the film, we refer to numbers assigned to each frame.

Description

The Presidential limousine first appears on available Zapruder film at frame 133, at a point in the street opposite the centre of the depository (3). The President, seated in the back on the right, is waving to the crowd with his right arm. He is hidden from camera view by a freeway sign, beginning at frame 203, and is shot in the throat at approximately frame 207. When he reappears from behind the sign at frame 225, his mouth is open and his hands are raised to his throat. From this point, he starts to lean forward, and to his left, until frame 313, when his head is impacted by a bullet.

Beginning with frame 305, the driver turns around, one hand on the wheel, and faces the President (4), at which point the President’s head is struck by the fatal bullet.

Between frames 313 and 323, the President is slammed backward by the impact of the shot. Between frames 323 and 340, he falls forward, and to his left, into his wife’s lap.

Mrs. Kennedy scrambles out of the limousine, over the trunk, between frames 345 and 375. Her bodyguard, Clinton J. Hill, touches the back of the limousine at frame 345, placing his foot on the car at frame 371, to assist her.

When the Governor reappears from behind the freeway sign at frame 223, he is looking to his right. Then he begins to turn his head forward. Between frames 227 and 230, he raises his hat (the whereabouts of which, possibly containing bullet hole, is unknown) up-and-down in reaction. At frame 233, he starts to raise his left forearm and to turn to his right again. The Governor’s mouth is open. Between frames 255 and 292, he continues to turn his head to the right, exposing his back to the front seat, until he is looking at the President. At frame 285, he is shot. He is then pulled backward by his wife.

After the fatal shot to the President at frame 313, the Governor begins to pull himself up, placing his right hand on the metal handhold on the top of the back of the front seat. At frame 323, he is sitting up, looking into the front seat.

A visible flare on the windshield of the limousine occurs at frame 330 as the result of another shot.

Authentication

For the Warren Commission, an FBI photographic expert numbered each frame of the Zapruder film. The first frame of the motorcade sequence was number “1” and the following frames were counted in order (5).

In its published record of the film, the Commission printed black-and-white photographs of frame 171 through 334. This is just before the limousine disappears behind the freeway sign until just before Mrs. Kennedy begins to climb out of the back seat (6).

The same numbering was used for those available copies of the Zapruder film that the authors examined. Each copy was placed on a viewer that allowed every frame to be seen and counted individually.

The examined copies agreed with the published version. For example, frame 171 of the copies we examined was identical to the published frame 171. The head shot at frame 313 in the copies was the same as frame 313 printed by the Commission.

All available copies were a single, continuous strip of film, without any mechanical splices.

In sum, those available copies matched the film that the Warren Commission viewed.

The original Zapruder film, however, seems to be unavailable.

Cuts

Between the period that Zapruder took his film and the Commission saw it, the film was altered.

Available copies that we examined showed splices present (Fig. 4-3). All splices were photographic, i.e., the mechanical splices of the original were copied onto the duplicates (7).

The following is an inventory of our examination.

Splices in frames 152-159 concern the period after the limousine turned Elm and Houston Streets and before the freeway sign.

Frame 152 is spliced at the bottom of the frame. In the next frame, splices exist at both top and bottom. In addition, the color changes. Instead of the previous warm color, the frames have a bluish cast. A great difference between frames 153 and 152 is indicated by the movement of the limousine: it makes an extremely rapid forward lurch indicating frames are missing here.

Frame 154 has a splice at the top and is bluish in cast. Frame 155 contains a splice at the top third of the frame. Splicing tape marks are present in the foreground of frame 156, which is also bluish; a crude splicing gap appears at the base. A splice may exist at the lower third of frame 159.

The next sequence in which splicing and color change occur is during that period when the limousine is hidden by the freeway sign.

There is a possible splice in the top eighth of frame 205. Splicing tape adhesive marks are visible on the freeway sign in frame 206. Frame 206 has a bluish cast, as do frames 207-212.

Frame 207 is spliced at the top. A splice may have been made on frame 210 near the bottom. On frame 211, splicing adhesive tape marks are present. Splicing adhesive covers frame 212; a crude cut out is at the base. Frame 213 has a splice at the top; the color changes back to warm hues. At frame 215, a splice line runs across the top fourth of the frame.

Color change indicates that different copies of the film were used to produce one continuous film (8).

A graph, made to show the feet the limousine traveled per frame number, indicates the limousine moved about 20 feet every 20 frames (Fig. 4-4). Between frames 197 and 218, when the limousine is behind the freeway sign, it moved only 10 feet within 21 frames. This means that the limousine either slowed down or stopped between frames 197 and 218. If it stopped then an unaccountable number of frames could have been removed.

Throughout the entire Zapruder film, nothing indicates that frames have been added. What is clear is that frames have been removed. Time has been deleted from the film. With time removed, the film is useless as a clock for the assassination.

Retouching

Retouching has been done with the image of the driver in the film between frames 214-333. It appears after the limousine emerges from behind the freeway sign. Retouching is evident on the front of the limousine windshield on the driver’s side to obscure his movements. The author’s reconstruction film, taken of a car on Elm Street, under similar lighting conditions, on Nov. 22, 1969, at 12:30 p.m., shows the driver’s motions clearly through the windshield.

Retouching may also occur at the top of the freeway sign to obscure the action of the occupants and to hide the shot hitting the President in the throat.

The object in the driver’s hand is barely visible between frames 285 and 297, the sequence of the Governor’s wounds. Between frames 303-317, it is easily seen. The telling feature, especially in the latter sequence, is the action: the driver raises it, seems to aim, and, then, in the frame immediately after the fatal shot to the President in frame 313, brings it down.

Although splicing marks were undetectable about frame 313, it is likely that frames were removed and the remaining retouched. The appearance of frame 313 is vital to the health of the scenario.

Given the forward inclination of the President’s head at the time of the fatal shot (Fig. 4-5), a line drawn through the actual points of entrance and exit is horizontal. If a rifleman fired from above and behind, the line between the points of exit and entrance would be at an angle.

To camouflage evidence of a shot from the front, the actual exit wound at the side of the head (Fig. 4-5) was covered with opaque (Fig. 4-6).

Second, an exploding, bloody halo was manufactured on the film in the area around the President’s head in frame 313 (Fig. 4-6). Significantly, other films of the assassination lack this halo (9). The CBS reporter who saw the Zapruder film two days after the assassination at a press showing made no mention of an exploding head (10). Mrs. Kennedy failed to describe this burst in her testimony (11).

The halo, a cartoon-like, red-orange burst that nearly obscures the President’s head (12), not only confuses the features of the head, but also distorts the actual and less dramatic wounding (Fig. 4-5). Furthermore, the burst occurs for one frame only – an eighteenth of a second – and does not appear in the very next frame. The film should have shown the burst developing and decaying over a sequence of perhaps 18-30 frames. For example, a film made of the effect of a rock hitting a window would require a number of frames to record the moment of impact, the spidering and splintering of the glass, then the shattering effect of the rock, and the outward showering movements of fragments, and their eventual descent to the ground.

The two Secret Service agents in the front seat and both Connallys implied a shot came from the rear by claiming that a substantial amount of debris came forward and down on them (13). No pictorial evidence verifies their claims.

A good indication of removal of frames during the fatal shot sequence is found in the out-of-sequence movements of the legs of a woman running across the lawn in the background. The rhythm of her running is broken unnaturally, e.g., running on her left leg twice, which would indicate frame removal.

Retouching can be seen in a comparison of frames 317 and 321 (Fig. 4-7). The President and his wife appear large in frame 321, even though the dimensions of the two frames are equal in size. Frame 321 was optically enlarged and then reframed. This eliminated material at the right hand side of the picture, such as the driver and the windshield. In addition, it is possible that in frame 321 the windshield was painted-in; it fails to match the windshield in frame 317. In addition, a change in perspective occurs. The line in the back seat in frame 321 has shifted. This means that the limousine has gone further down the street and that an unknown number of frames were removed (14).

Refilming

More evidence of tampering is indicated with the framing of the pictures, especially between frames 280-300. There, the heads of both the President and Connally scarcely appear, and almost disappear from view. This means that the original film was probably refilmed, and reframed, in such a manner as to remove certain material just below their heads.

For example, on the afternoon of Nov. 24, 1963, two days after the assassination, CBS newsman Dan Rather viewed a copy of the Zapruder film in Dallas. His report noted that Connally, as he turned to look back at the President, “…exposed his entire shirt front and chest because his coat was unbuttoned…at that moment a shot very clearly hit that part of the Governor”(15). On available copies, only Connally’s head appears in this sequence.

The possibility exists that the original Zapruder film was refilmed on an optical printer. Modern cinematography laboratories are equipped with optical printing machines that can generate a new negative without the “errors” of the original. Optical printers can insert new frames, skip frames, re-size the images, along with other creative illusions. One hour on the optical printer could eliminate the Connally hit (16).

Deletions

Most available copies, when viewed on a screen as a movie, are slightly jerky, especially in the movement of the limousine. Perhaps the maximum number of cuts was made, the greatest number of frames removed, without making it obvious to the casual viewer.

Certain items could not be altered, such as the President’s head and body snapping backward, without elaborate artwork. But, of those who have seen the film, the cuts are overcome by the way in which people see the movie. The viewer’s focus is usually on the President, not on the other people in the limousine.

Some of the action depicted on the film that was difficult to explain had to be eliminated.

First, the limousine initially appears on available copies some 40 feet down from the top of the street; it literally leaps into view. Yet Zapruder stated that he filmed the limousine as it turned onto Elm St. from Houston St. (17). The copy that CBS reporter Dan Rather saw two days after the assassination apparently had the turn on it because Rather described it (18).

Frames deleted between 152-159 probably showed the decoy shot being fired from the Vice-President’s follow-up car.

Cuts between frames 205-215 likely relate to two areas: reaction to the decoy (first) shot, and the second (throat) shot.

Between frames 207-212, the President seems to swing his head very quickly to his left as if in reaction to the decoy shot. His action would indicate the direction of the Secret Service agent’s revolver as well as sharply contrast with the lack of reaction by those agents in the front seat of the Presidential limousine.

The President’s reaction to the second shot, which hit him in the throat, is missing. Zapruder testified, “…I heard the first shot and I saw the President lean over and grab himself like this (holding his left chest area)” (19). CBS reporter Dan Rather said that “…the President lurched forward just a bit, it was obvious he had been hit in the movie…”(20).

The Commission, which received the film from the Secret Service, published frames 207 and 212, both obviously spliced, but failed to print frames 208-211 (21).

The alterations after the fatal shot probably were concerned with eliminating the limousine stop and the rush by Secret Service agents upon it. Indeed, the Secret Service made an effort “…to ascertain whether any [movie news] film could be found showing special agents on the ground alongside the Presidential automobile at any point along the parade route” (22).

(1) Abraham Zapruder, “Testimony of Abraham Zapruder [dated July 22, 1964],” in Hearings, v. 7, p. 570.

(2) Lyndal L. Shaneyfelt, “Testimony of Lyndal L. Shaneyfelt [dated June 4, 1964],” in Hearings, v. 5, p. 139.

(3) Calculation by photo triangulation.

(4) “…the Secret Service agent…must be able to hit the target under any and all conditions…” (C.B. Colby, Secret Service: History, Duties and Equipment, p. 20.)

According to Merriman Smith, “All [agents on the White House Detail of the Secret Service] are crack shots with either hand. Their pistol marksmanship is tested on one of the toughest ranges in the country. The bull’s-eye of their target is about half the size of the one ordinarily used on police and Army ranges. They must qualify with an unusually high score every thirty days, and if any one of them – or any of the White House police, which falls under Secret Service jurisdiction – falls below a certain marksmanship standard, they are transferred. Agents must also qualify periodically firing from moving vehicles. This accounts for the requirement to shoot well with either hand. A right-handed agent might be clinging to a speeding car with that hand and have to shoot with the left.” (Timothy G. Smith (ed.), op. cit., p. 226.)

In his testimony, Greer claimed he “…made a quick glance and back again,” over his right shoulder, at the time of the second shot. He stated, “My eyes [turned] slightly [to the right] more than my head. My eyes went more than my head around. I had a vision real quick of it.” (Greer, op. cit., v. 2, p. 118.)

One study (1971) of the Zapruder film approximated the direction, clockwise, that the occupants faced in the limousine. In orientation, noon was the front of the car, 6 o’clock was on the trunk, 9 o’clock was the mid-point on the left, and 3 o’clock that on the right of the limousine. Greer was judged to be looking to the right and rear twice. He was in the 4:30 position from frames 282-290, the sequence when Connally is shot; in the 3:30-5 position from frames 303-316, the sequence with the fatal shot.

Another study (1967), made without the film and working only from the frames, estimated Greer to be 40 degrees to his right beginning at frame 240 and extending to 80 degrees from frame 270 through frame 309 (309 was the last frame available to the researcher). (Ronald Christensen, “A Preliminary Analysis of the Pictures of the Kennedy Assassination,” p. 69.)

(5) Shaneyfelt, loc. cit.

(6) Zapruder film, “Commission Exhibit No. 885. ‘Album of black and white photographs of frames from the Zapruder, Nix and Muchmore films,’” in Hearings, v. 18, pp. 1-80.

According to FBI Director Hoover, in a letter of Dec. 14, 1965, frames 314 and 315 were transposed in printing. Visually, it appears to reverse the direction of the head movement.

(7) In a few of the more sophisticated available copies, splice marks were retouched out. A 16 mm version contained evidence of only one splice.

(8) In a few of the more sophisticated copies, color change was consistent throughout the film A 16 mm version, in the Life magazine photo library, is of excellent quality, containing consistent color throughout. This copy, however, does contain evidence of a splice between frames 156-157.

(9) Nix film.

Muchmore film.

(10) Dan Rather, loc. cit.

(11) She stated, “And just as I turned and looked at him, I could see a piece of his skull sort of wedge-shaped like that, and I remember it was flesh colored with little ridges at the top. I remember thinking he just looked as if he had a slight headache. And I just remember seeing that. No blood or anything. And then he sort of did that, put his hand to his forehead and fell in my lap.” (President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, Report of Proceedings, v. 48, June 5, 1964, p. 6814.)

(12) Especially in Life magazine’s 4 x 5 transparency of this frame.

(13) John Connally, op. cit., v. 4, p. 133.

Nellie Connally, op. cit., v. 4, p. 147.

Commission Document No. 188, p. 6.

Kellerman, op. cit., v. 2, pp. 74, 78.

In an interview with William R. Greer, Greer said, “…my back was covered with it.”

(14) This area also displays optical enlargement, especially between frames 317 and 318 (magnification jumps from 1 to 1.3).

(15) Dan Rather, loc. cit.

(16) Modern Cinematographer, June 1969, pp. 566, 567, 568.

Note: Connally testified, “I had seem what purported to be a copy of the film when I was in hospital in Dallas.” (Connally, op. cit., v. 4, p. 145.)

(17) Abraham Zapruder, Commission Document No. 7 [dated Dec. 4, 1963],” p. 12.

(18) Dan Rather, loc. cit.

(19) Zapruder, op. cit., v. 7, p. 751.

(20) Dan Rather, loc. cit.

(21) Zapruder film, “Commission Exhibit No. 885,” op. cit., v. 18, p. 19.

Note: Life magazine later accepted the blame for this. It said that four frames “…had been accidentally destroyed by its photo lab technicians.” (New York Times, Jan. 30, 1967, p. 22.)

(22) Commission Document No. 87, p. 434.

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Paul,

So I'm clear: You write that you are "an unrepentent in-car shootist ... "

Unrepentent and, to me at least, obtuse.

Am I to understand that you are of the opinion that at least one shot was fired at JFK from inside the presidential limo?

No judgment intended. Just want to know.

Charles

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Paul,

So I'm clear: You write that you are "an unrepentent in-car shootist ... "

Unrepentent and, to me at least, obtuse.

Am I to understand that you are of the opinion that at least one shot was fired at JFK from inside the presidential limo?

No judgment intended. Just want to know.

Charles

Paul appears to be a proponent for anything absurd that could make a CT's as a whole look so foolish that nothing they say should be considered ... even if he has to pretend to be one himself.

Bill

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Gentlemen you may be right about Paul's theory being wrong. But I am glad he opened up a thread so novices might understand the direction of the bold face pot shots. If you disagree please take up a similar thread that makes your argument, which I assume is that the Z-film was not altered?

I'm all ears and my mind is as open as a windsock in a small midwestern airport!

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The purpose of this thread is to furnish a one-stop shop for those commencing their exploration of the issue: It isn’t to provide yet another pretext for the renewal of old hostilities. To that end, I urge the anti-alterationists to establish an equivalent thread.

Here’s the deal – we respect each others threads, and keep them purely for reading lists, suggested links, extracts etc. The ultimate goal, upon which both sides should surely be able to agree, is to relocate the debate on the most informed and rational ground we can. That means giving newcomers the widest range of information and options possible – on both sides of the argument.

There is no party line. I happen to be an unrepentent in-car shootist - but I neither seek nor desire to limit contributions to the like-minded. All I do insist upon is a commitment to the rational exposition of the case for alteration. Fair enough?

To kick-start the thread, I begin, appropriately enough, with the very first sustained written assault on the Z-film’s veracity. It’s only part of the chapter concerned, and contains much with which I profoundly disagree. Yet I remain deeply in its debt. So, too, do many others, as we shall see in future postings:

Fred T. Newcomb & Perry Adams. Murder From Within (Santa Barbara, CA: Probe, 1974): From chapter 4, The Filmed Assassination:

One of the most important films of the murder was an 8 mm color movie taken by Abraham Zapruder. The Secret Service had first access to his original film, which was then altered in an attempt to cover up the agency’s part in the plot.

Zapruder stood mid-way between the depository and the underpass (1) and filmed the Presidential limousine from the time it turned the corner of Elm and Houston Streets until it reached the triple underpass. His untampered film recorded what occurred inside the vehicle.

A number of copies of the Zapruder film, whose clarity ranged from excellent to poor, including the films and slides at Life magazine and those at the National Archives, were made available to the authors. Each copy was carefully examined and this chapter deals basically with the results of that examination.

A movie is a series of individual pictures, or frames, in consecutive order (2). In describing the film, we refer to numbers assigned to each frame.

Description

The Presidential limousine first appears on available Zapruder film at frame 133, at a point in the street opposite the centre of the depository (3). The President, seated in the back on the right, is waving to the crowd with his right arm. He is hidden from camera view by a freeway sign, beginning at frame 203, and is shot in the throat at approximately frame 207. When he reappears from behind the sign at frame 225, his mouth is open and his hands are raised to his throat. From this point, he starts to lean forward, and to his left, until frame 313, when his head is impacted by a bullet.

Beginning with frame 305, the driver turns around, one hand on the wheel, and faces the President (4), at which point the President’s head is struck by the fatal bullet.

Between frames 313 and 323, the President is slammed backward by the impact of the shot. Between frames 323 and 340, he falls forward, and to his left, into his wife’s lap.

Mrs. Kennedy scrambles out of the limousine, over the trunk, between frames 345 and 375. Her bodyguard, Clinton J. Hill, touches the back of the limousine at frame 345, placing his foot on the car at frame 371, to assist her.

When the Governor reappears from behind the freeway sign at frame 223, he is looking to his right. Then he begins to turn his head forward. Between frames 227 and 230, he raises his hat (the whereabouts of which, possibly containing bullet hole, is unknown) up-and-down in reaction. At frame 233, he starts to raise his left forearm and to turn to his right again. The Governor’s mouth is open. Between frames 255 and 292, he continues to turn his head to the right, exposing his back to the front seat, until he is looking at the President. At frame 285, he is shot. He is then pulled backward by his wife.

After the fatal shot to the President at frame 313, the Governor begins to pull himself up, placing his right hand on the metal handhold on the top of the back of the front seat. At frame 323, he is sitting up, looking into the front seat.

A visible flare on the windshield of the limousine occurs at frame 330 as the result of another shot.

Authentication

For the Warren Commission, an FBI photographic expert numbered each frame of the Zapruder film. The first frame of the motorcade sequence was number “1” and the following frames were counted in order (5).

In its published record of the film, the Commission printed black-and-white photographs of frame 171 through 334. This is just before the limousine disappears behind the freeway sign until just before Mrs. Kennedy begins to climb out of the back seat (6).

The same numbering was used for those available copies of the Zapruder film that the authors examined. Each copy was placed on a viewer that allowed every frame to be seen and counted individually.

The examined copies agreed with the published version. For example, frame 171 of the copies we examined was identical to the published frame 171. The head shot at frame 313 in the copies was the same as frame 313 printed by the Commission.

All available copies were a single, continuous strip of film, without any mechanical splices.

In sum, those available copies matched the film that the Warren Commission viewed.

The original Zapruder film, however, seems to be unavailable.

Cuts

Between the period that Zapruder took his film and the Commission saw it, the film was altered.

Available copies that we examined showed splices present (Fig. 4-3). All splices were photographic, i.e., the mechanical splices of the original were copied onto the duplicates (7).

The following is an inventory of our examination.

Splices in frames 152-159 concern the period after the limousine turned Elm and Houston Streets and before the freeway sign.

Frame 152 is spliced at the bottom of the frame. In the next frame, splices exist at both top and bottom. In addition, the color changes. Instead of the previous warm color, the frames have a bluish cast. A great difference between frames 153 and 152 is indicated by the movement of the limousine: it makes an extremely rapid forward lurch indicating frames are missing here.

Frame 154 has a splice at the top and is bluish in cast. Frame 155 contains a splice at the top third of the frame. Splicing tape marks are present in the foreground of frame 156, which is also bluish; a crude splicing gap appears at the base. A splice may exist at the lower third of frame 159.

The next sequence in which splicing and color change occur is during that period when the limousine is hidden by the freeway sign.

There is a possible splice in the top eighth of frame 205. Splicing tape adhesive marks are visible on the freeway sign in frame 206. Frame 206 has a bluish cast, as do frames 207-212.

Frame 207 is spliced at the top. A splice may have been made on frame 210 near the bottom. On frame 211, splicing adhesive tape marks are present. Splicing adhesive covers frame 212; a crude cut out is at the base. Frame 213 has a splice at the top; the color changes back to warm hues. At frame 215, a splice line runs across the top fourth of the frame.

Color change indicates that different copies of the film were used to produce one continuous film (8).

A graph, made to show the feet the limousine traveled per frame number, indicates the limousine moved about 20 feet every 20 frames (Fig. 4-4). Between frames 197 and 218, when the limousine is behind the freeway sign, it moved only 10 feet within 21 frames. This means that the limousine either slowed down or stopped between frames 197 and 218. If it stopped then an unaccountable number of frames could have been removed.

Throughout the entire Zapruder film, nothing indicates that frames have been added. What is clear is that frames have been removed. Time has been deleted from the film. With time removed, the film is useless as a clock for the assassination.

Retouching

Retouching has been done with the image of the driver in the film between frames 214-333. It appears after the limousine emerges from behind the freeway sign. Retouching is evident on the front of the limousine windshield on the driver’s side to obscure his movements. The author’s reconstruction film, taken of a car on Elm Street, under similar lighting conditions, on Nov. 22, 1969, at 12:30 p.m., shows the driver’s motions clearly through the windshield.

Retouching may also occur at the top of the freeway sign to obscure the action of the occupants and to hide the shot hitting the President in the throat.

The object in the driver’s hand is barely visible between frames 285 and 297, the sequence of the Governor’s wounds. Between frames 303-317, it is easily seen. The telling feature, especially in the latter sequence, is the action: the driver raises it, seems to aim, and, then, in the frame immediately after the fatal shot to the President in frame 313, brings it down.

Although splicing marks were undetectable about frame 313, it is likely that frames were removed and the remaining retouched. The appearance of frame 313 is vital to the health of the scenario.

Given the forward inclination of the President’s head at the time of the fatal shot (Fig. 4-5), a line drawn through the actual points of entrance and exit is horizontal. If a rifleman fired from above and behind, the line between the points of exit and entrance would be at an angle.

To camouflage evidence of a shot from the front, the actual exit wound at the side of the head (Fig. 4-5) was covered with opaque (Fig. 4-6).

Second, an exploding, bloody halo was manufactured on the film in the area around the President’s head in frame 313 (Fig. 4-6). Significantly, other films of the assassination lack this halo (9). The CBS reporter who saw the Zapruder film two days after the assassination at a press showing made no mention of an exploding head (10). Mrs. Kennedy failed to describe this burst in her testimony (11).

The halo, a cartoon-like, red-orange burst that nearly obscures the President’s head (12), not only confuses the features of the head, but also distorts the actual and less dramatic wounding (Fig. 4-5). Furthermore, the burst occurs for one frame only – an eighteenth of a second – and does not appear in the very next frame. The film should have shown the burst developing and decaying over a sequence of perhaps 18-30 frames. For example, a film made of the effect of a rock hitting a window would require a number of frames to record the moment of impact, the spidering and splintering of the glass, then the shattering effect of the rock, and the outward showering movements of fragments, and their eventual descent to the ground.

The two Secret Service agents in the front seat and both Connallys implied a shot came from the rear by claiming that a substantial amount of debris came forward and down on them (13). No pictorial evidence verifies their claims.

A good indication of removal of frames during the fatal shot sequence is found in the out-of-sequence movements of the legs of a woman running across the lawn in the background. The rhythm of her running is broken unnaturally, e.g., running on her left leg twice, which would indicate frame removal.

Retouching can be seen in a comparison of frames 317 and 321 (Fig. 4-7). The President and his wife appear large in frame 321, even though the dimensions of the two frames are equal in size. Frame 321 was optically enlarged and then reframed. This eliminated material at the right hand side of the picture, such as the driver and the windshield. In addition, it is possible that in frame 321 the windshield was painted-in; it fails to match the windshield in frame 317. In addition, a change in perspective occurs. The line in the back seat in frame 321 has shifted. This means that the limousine has gone further down the street and that an unknown number of frames were removed (14).

Refilming

More evidence of tampering is indicated with the framing of the pictures, especially between frames 280-300. There, the heads of both the President and Connally scarcely appear, and almost disappear from view. This means that the original film was probably refilmed, and reframed, in such a manner as to remove certain material just below their heads.

For example, on the afternoon of Nov. 24, 1963, two days after the assassination, CBS newsman Dan Rather viewed a copy of the Zapruder film in Dallas. His report noted that Connally, as he turned to look back at the President, “…exposed his entire shirt front and chest because his coat was unbuttoned…at that moment a shot very clearly hit that part of the Governor”(15). On available copies, only Connally’s head appears in this sequence.

The possibility exists that the original Zapruder film was refilmed on an optical printer. Modern cinematography laboratories are equipped with optical printing machines that can generate a new negative without the “errors” of the original. Optical printers can insert new frames, skip frames, re-size the images, along with other creative illusions. One hour on the optical printer could eliminate the Connally hit (16).

Deletions

Most available copies, when viewed on a screen as a movie, are slightly jerky, especially in the movement of the limousine. Perhaps the maximum number of cuts was made, the greatest number of frames removed, without making it obvious to the casual viewer.

Certain items could not be altered, such as the President’s head and body snapping backward, without elaborate artwork. But, of those who have seen the film, the cuts are overcome by the way in which people see the movie. The viewer’s focus is usually on the President, not on the other people in the limousine.

Some of the action depicted on the film that was difficult to explain had to be eliminated.

First, the limousine initially appears on available copies some 40 feet down from the top of the street; it literally leaps into view. Yet Zapruder stated that he filmed the limousine as it turned onto Elm St. from Houston St. (17). The copy that CBS reporter Dan Rather saw two days after the assassination apparently had the turn on it because Rather described it (18).

Frames deleted between 152-159 probably showed the decoy shot being fired from the Vice-President’s follow-up car.

Cuts between frames 205-215 likely relate to two areas: reaction to the decoy (first) shot, and the second (throat) shot.

Between frames 207-212, the President seems to swing his head very quickly to his left as if in reaction to the decoy shot. His action would indicate the direction of the Secret Service agent’s revolver as well as sharply contrast with the lack of reaction by those agents in the front seat of the Presidential limousine.

The President’s reaction to the second shot, which hit him in the throat, is missing. Zapruder testified, “…I heard the first shot and I saw the President lean over and grab himself like this (holding his left chest area)” (19). CBS reporter Dan Rather said that “…the President lurched forward just a bit, it was obvious he had been hit in the movie…”(20).

The Commission, which received the film from the Secret Service, published frames 207 and 212, both obviously spliced, but failed to print frames 208-211 (21).

The alterations after the fatal shot probably were concerned with eliminating the limousine stop and the rush by Secret Service agents upon it. Indeed, the Secret Service made an effort “…to ascertain whether any [movie news] film could be found showing special agents on the ground alongside the Presidential automobile at any point along the parade route” (22).

(1) Abraham Zapruder, “Testimony of Abraham Zapruder [dated July 22, 1964],” in Hearings, v. 7, p. 570.

(2) Lyndal L. Shaneyfelt, “Testimony of Lyndal L. Shaneyfelt [dated June 4, 1964],” in Hearings, v. 5, p. 139.

(3) Calculation by photo triangulation.

(4) “…the Secret Service agent…must be able to hit the target under any and all conditions…” (C.B. Colby, Secret Service: History, Duties and Equipment, p. 20.)

According to Merriman Smith, “All [agents on the White House Detail of the Secret Service] are crack shots with either hand. Their pistol marksmanship is tested on one of the toughest ranges in the country. The bull’s-eye of their target is about half the size of the one ordinarily used on police and Army ranges. They must qualify with an unusually high score every thirty days, and if any one of them – or any of the White House police, which falls under Secret Service jurisdiction – falls below a certain marksmanship standard, they are transferred. Agents must also qualify periodically firing from moving vehicles. This accounts for the requirement to shoot well with either hand. A right-handed agent might be clinging to a speeding car with that hand and have to shoot with the left.” (Timothy G. Smith (ed.), op. cit., p. 226.)

In his testimony, Greer claimed he “…made a quick glance and back again,” over his right shoulder, at the time of the second shot. He stated, “My eyes [turned] slightly [to the right] more than my head. My eyes went more than my head around. I had a vision real quick of it.” (Greer, op. cit., v. 2, p. 118.)

One study (1971) of the Zapruder film approximated the direction, clockwise, that the occupants faced in the limousine. In orientation, noon was the front of the car, 6 o’clock was on the trunk, 9 o’clock was the mid-point on the left, and 3 o’clock that on the right of the limousine. Greer was judged to be looking to the right and rear twice. He was in the 4:30 position from frames 282-290, the sequence when Connally is shot; in the 3:30-5 position from frames 303-316, the sequence with the fatal shot.

Another study (1967), made without the film and working only from the frames, estimated Greer to be 40 degrees to his right beginning at frame 240 and extending to 80 degrees from frame 270 through frame 309 (309 was the last frame available to the researcher). (Ronald Christensen, “A Preliminary Analysis of the Pictures of the Kennedy Assassination,” p. 69.)

(5) Shaneyfelt, loc. cit.

(6) Zapruder film, “Commission Exhibit No. 885. ‘Album of black and white photographs of frames from the Zapruder, Nix and Muchmore films,’” in Hearings, v. 18, pp. 1-80.

According to FBI Director Hoover, in a letter of Dec. 14, 1965, frames 314 and 315 were transposed in printing. Visually, it appears to reverse the direction of the head movement.

(7) In a few of the more sophisticated available copies, splice marks were retouched out. A 16 mm version contained evidence of only one splice.

(8) In a few of the more sophisticated copies, color change was consistent throughout the film A 16 mm version, in the Life magazine photo library, is of excellent quality, containing consistent color throughout. This copy, however, does contain evidence of a splice between frames 156-157.

(9) Nix film.

Muchmore film.

(10) Dan Rather, loc. cit.

(11) She stated, “And just as I turned and looked at him, I could see a piece of his skull sort of wedge-shaped like that, and I remember it was flesh colored with little ridges at the top. I remember thinking he just looked as if he had a slight headache. And I just remember seeing that. No blood or anything. And then he sort of did that, put his hand to his forehead and fell in my lap.” (President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, Report of Proceedings, v. 48, June 5, 1964, p. 6814.)

(12) Especially in Life magazine’s 4 x 5 transparency of this frame.

(13) John Connally, op. cit., v. 4, p. 133.

Nellie Connally, op. cit., v. 4, p. 147.

Commission Document No. 188, p. 6.

Kellerman, op. cit., v. 2, pp. 74, 78.

In an interview with William R. Greer, Greer said, “…my back was covered with it.”

(14) This area also displays optical enlargement, especially between frames 317 and 318 (magnification jumps from 1 to 1.3).

(15) Dan Rather, loc. cit.

(16) Modern Cinematographer, June 1969, pp. 566, 567, 568.

Note: Connally testified, “I had seem what purported to be a copy of the film when I was in hospital in Dallas.” (Connally, op. cit., v. 4, p. 145.)

(17) Abraham Zapruder, Commission Document No. 7 [dated Dec. 4, 1963],” p. 12.

(18) Dan Rather, loc. cit.

(19) Zapruder, op. cit., v. 7, p. 751.

(20) Dan Rather, loc. cit.

(21) Zapruder film, “Commission Exhibit No. 885,” op. cit., v. 18, p. 19.

Note: Life magazine later accepted the blame for this. It said that four frames “…had been accidentally destroyed by its photo lab technicians.” (New York Times, Jan. 30, 1967, p. 22.)

(22) Commission Document No. 87, p. 434.

Paul...thanks for posting the Newcomb/Adams study. I had never seen that part of it!

Jack

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Gentlemen you may be right about Paul's theory being wrong. But I am glad he opened up a thread so novices might understand the direction of the bold face pot shots. If you disagree please take up a similar thread that makes your argument, which I assume is that the Z-film was not altered?

I'm all ears and my mind is as open as a windsock in a small midwestern airport!

Hold it! The "Gentlemen" is troubling.

Please do not conflate Mr. Miller's comments with my own.

I simply ask Paul to clarify his position.

Charles Drago

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Gentlemen you may be right about Paul's theory being wrong. But I am glad he opened up a thread so novices might understand the direction of the bold face pot shots. If you disagree please take up a similar thread that makes your argument, which I assume is that the Z-film was not altered?

I'm all ears and my mind is as open as a windsock in a small midwestern airport!

Hold it! The "Gentlemen" is troubling.

Please do not conflate Mr. Miller's comments with my own.

I simply ask Paul to clarify his position.

Charles Drago

Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. Except for the part about the

driver perhaps shooting, I found the Newcomb/Adams piece extremely important

with many carefully researched facts.

Jack

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I agree, Jack.

But again: All I did was ask for clarification. No flying babies around here.

Signed,

Curious

Charles, you might find clarifications in the thread devoted to the subject of shots from inside the presidential limo:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=10829

Edited by Myra Bronstein
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...

Second, an exploding, bloody halo was manufactured on the film in the area around the President’s head in frame 313 (Fig. 4-6). Significantly, other films of the assassination lack this halo (9). The CBS reporter who saw the Zapruder film two days after the assassination at a press showing made no mention of an exploding head (10). Mrs. Kennedy failed to describe this burst in her testimony (11).

The halo, a cartoon-like, red-orange burst that nearly obscures the President’s head (12), not only confuses the features of the head, but also distorts the actual and less dramatic wounding (Fig. 4-5). Furthermore, the burst occurs for one frame only – an eighteenth of a second – and does not appear in the very next frame. The film should have shown the burst developing and decaying over a sequence of perhaps 18-30 frames. For example, a film made of the effect of a rock hitting a window would require a number of frames to record the moment of impact, the spidering and splintering of the glass, then the shattering effect of the rock, and the outward showering movements of fragments, and their eventual descent to the ground.

...

This is the very thing that originally convinced me the film was tampered with.

313 there's the big bloody blob.

By 314 there's no sign of any bloody debris.

It should have been visible, dissipating backward for many frames.

It's a red flag so to speak.

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The purpose of this thread is to furnish a one-stop shop for those commencing their exploration of the issue: It isn’t to provide yet another pretext for the renewal of old hostilities. To that end, I urge the anti-alterationists to establish an equivalent thread.

...

Very good idea Paul.

Let each thread sink or swim based on the strength of the presented evidence and commentary.

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Interesting and useful reading. I will go back and look for the two left legs.

I am wondering if the in car shooting hypothesis is dependent upon film alteration. Are there any proponents of the in car view who also think that the Z-film was NOT altered. In short, are these dependent variables all the way around?

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...

To kick-start the thread, I begin, appropriately enough, with the very first sustained written assault on the Z-film’s veracity. It’s only part of the chapter concerned, and contains much with which I profoundly disagree. Yet I remain deeply in its debt. So, too, do many others, as we shall see in future postings:

...

Care to summarize what you profoundly disagree with Paul?

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Paul appears to be a proponent for anything absurd that could make a CT's as a whole look so foolish that nothing they say should be considered ... even if he has to pretend to be one himself.

What's really absurd is your notion that Paul Rigby's postings could be in any way construed to represent CTs as a whole.

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