Jump to content
The Education Forum

Jonathan Demme to direct JFK movie


John Simkin
 Share

Recommended Posts

Article by Adrian Mack:

http://www.straight.com/article-423937/vancouver/jonathan-demme-direct-bullxxxx-jfk-movie

A troubled loner? That’s how Lee Harvey Oswald is described in the promo for Stephen King’s upcoming book 11/22/63, shortly to be adapted for the screen by filmmaker Jonathan Demme.

A more accurate portrayal of Oswald would present Kennedy’s alleged assassin as an intelligence operative involved in a false defector program, a phony Castro supporter who hung with right wing extremists and anti-Castro groups in New Orleans, a cartoon Marxist befriended by ultra-conservative White Russians in Texas, and a tragic fall-guy who was reportedly seen meeting in Dallas with the CIA’s head of Cuban operations.

Hell, an accurate portrayal would also tell you that there were at least two Oswalds running around for the most part–another rather large indication that Oswald was part man, part weirdo intelligence operation. Perhaps King and Demme would consider revamping their story to include two “troubled loners?” That’d be a start, at least.

But Hollywood doesn’t traffic in accurate portrayals, especially when it comes to JFK. Oliver Stone’s 1991 film is a notable exception. So notable, indeed, that it actually stirred up enough public interest to prompt legislation, even as Stone was being publicly executed by the press—a fate that sits there waiting for any high profile critic of the lone nut myth.

Nonetheless, in 1992 the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act resulted in the release of over five million classified documents, overseen by an independent agency called the Assassination Records Review Board. Naturally, the best books that arrived in the wake of the ARRB have been resoundingly ignored by major media; books like Gerald McKnight’s ferocious dismantling of the Warren Commission, Breach of Trust, or James Douglass’ towering JFK and the Unspeakable.

Other, disreputable works, such as Legacy of Secrecy or Vincent Bugliosi’s decrepit Warren Commission defense, Reclaiming History, were met with fanfare and hosannas by the likes of the New York Times. As is the way with these things, the first is being turned into a Leonardo DiCaprio movie, while Bugliosi’s 10 pound fairy tale is getting the miniseries treatment from Tom Hanks. Why bother? The whole comic fable was already made into an entertainingly xxxxty TV movie.

One of the more rewarding aspects of the JFK Records Act is that Jim Garrison, the New Orleans DA whose failed case against Clay Shaw in 1969 gave Stone’s film its basis, has largely been vindicated. Not only did it emerge that Clay Shaw was indeed working for the CIA, as Garrison charged, but a mountain of evidence revealed the amazing lengths to which the CIA went to infiltrate and neutralize the DA’s investigation.

This included activating media friends like Walter Sheridan to spuriously discredit Garrison. In fact, the campaign mounted against Garrison was so vicious that some years later, after being forced out of his position as the chief counsel to the House Select Committee on Assassinations, Richard Sprague would state to journalist Dick Russell, " ... there is a greater ability to manipulate public opinion by certain agencies of government than I would have believed possible ... I've become more interested in the media than the assassination."

Sprague was also unseated in part by a negative media campaign. His crime? He refused to sign non-disclosure agreements with the intelligence community. Sprague was replaced by Robert Blakey, who made no such demands on the CIA, while uncomfortably looking away from the highly suspicious intelligence matters his investigators kept turning up. Even this farcically compromised government investigation still had to conclude there was a “conspiracy” to murder Kennedy. Blakey just remained wedded to a strenuously narrow personal view that it was a Mob operation.

That changed recently. “We… now know that the Agency set up a process that could only have been designed to frustrate the ability of the committee in 1976-79 to obtain any information that might adversely affect the Agency,” Blakey states in an addendum to an interview he gave to Frontline. “Many have told me that the culture of the Agency is one of prevarication and dissimulation and that you cannot trust it or its people. Period. End of story. I am now in that camp.”

Blakey’s about-face happened when he learned, many years later, that the CIA’s liaison with the HSCA had also been a pointsman in the Agency’s Miami Cuban operations in 1963. George Joannides handled the Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil (DRE), a Cuban exile group that had interacted dramatically with the pro-Castro version of Oswald in New Orleans. In other words, Joannides was implicated in the very files he was put in charge of. The fox had been hired—taken out of retirement, even—to guard the henhouse. Nobody at the HSCA was aware of this duplicity at the time.

You think they’d have been a little more suspicious. Even J. Edgar Hoover had to admit that the CIA tended to lie about Oswald. In fact, almost everybody who bothers to look sees that the CIA has acted anything but innocently regarding its knowledge of the assassination. Everybody except a lot of well-paid members of the media establishment, any politicians who value their careers, and useful idiots like Forrest Gump, the kid from What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Stephen King, and now Jonathan Demme. Jonathan Demme! The guy who made Caged Heat! This is a painful development for some of us.

I suppose you could argue that almost 50 years after the event, it’s no big thing to turn the killing of JFK into a little light entertainment, as in Stephen King’s time-travel yarn about a man who goes back to stop Oswald—the guy who didn’t do it—from doing it. “Who cares?” you might shrug, “It was a long time ago, and besides, using cinema as a political tool to inform, educate, and agitate is the kind of thing they do in crazy loser countries like France and Argentina.”

Or you could take the view that Hollywood’s magical power to mold consensual “reality” is a force better applied to the light of truth rather than to the ever widening gyre of historical misinformation, especially if one views the assassination from Stone’s horribly persuasive perspective as a daylight coup brought to you by extremists in the highest levels of the establishment.

It might seem quaint now, but a smart president looking to avoid a Vietnam war was actually considered enough of a threat at one time. JFK’s death allowed a monumental heave towards chaos. His killers got their war, and we’ve been stuck with this culture of endless conflict and consensus unreality ever since. Almost half a century later, a sitting American president—a Democrat—demonstrably supports war, torture, and the continued malfeasance of the corporate and finance sectors, and he’s considered the good guy.

That, as James Douglass puts it, is why JFK’s death still matters. In this context, one wonders if King and Demme realize the damage they’re doing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Article by Adrian Mack:

http://www.straight....lxxxx-jfk-movie

A troubled loner? That's how Lee Harvey Oswald is described in the promo for Stephen King's upcoming book 11/22/63, shortly to be adapted for the screen by filmmaker Jonathan Demme.

John, that was the first sheep dipping in NY. It had a very specific purpose, a very specific backdrop, and a very specific way in which it was achieved.

And very specific names involved.

A more accurate portrayal of Oswald would present Kennedy's alleged assassin as an intelligence operative involved in a false defector program, a phony Castro supporter who hung with right wing extremists and anti-Castro groups in New Orleans, a cartoon Marxist befriended by ultra-conservative White Russians in Texas, and a tragic fall-guy who was reportedly seen meeting in Dallas with the CIA's head of Cuban operations.

Hell, an accurate portrayal would also tell you that there were at least two Oswalds running around for the most part–another rather large indication that Oswald was part man, part weirdo intelligence operation. Perhaps King and Demme would consider revamping their story to include two "troubled loners?" That'd be a start, at least.

I watched Hearts in Atlantis yesterday based on a series of King novellas. In the books, the kid the story revolves around is a "troubled youth" who winds up in detention. The genre is pure science fantasy - but not so the movie, the fantasy villains are replaced by the FBI. I'm not generally a fan of the genre, but I do usually like King. You just have to remember what genre he writes in. The movie version was improved immeasurably by making it more grounded in reality. And Anthony Hopkins is always a pleasure to watch.

But Hollywood doesn't traffic in accurate portrayals, especially when it comes to JFK. Oliver Stone's 1991 film is a notable exception. So notable, indeed, that it actually stirred up enough public interest to prompt legislation, even as Stone was being publicly executed by the press—a fate that sits there waiting for any high profile critic of the lone nut myth.

Nonetheless, in 1992 the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act resulted in the release of over five million classified documents, overseen by an independent agency called the Assassination Records Review Board. Naturally, the best books that arrived in the wake of the ARRB have been resoundingly ignored by major media; books like Gerald McKnight's ferocious dismantling of the Warren Commission, Breach of Trust, or James Douglass' towering JFK and the Unspeakable.

Other, disreputable works, such as Legacy of Secrecy or Vincent Bugliosi's decrepit Warren Commission defense, Reclaiming History, were met with fanfare and hosannas by the likes of the New York Times. As is the way with these things, the first is being turned into a Leonardo DiCaprio movie, while Bugliosi's 10 pound fairy tale is getting the miniseries treatment from Tom Hanks. Why bother? The whole comic fable was already made into an entertainingly xxxxty TV movie.

One of the more rewarding aspects of the JFK Records Act is that Jim Garrison, the New Orleans DA whose failed case against Clay Shaw in 1969 gave Stone's film its basis, has largely been vindicated. Not only did it emerge that Clay Shaw was indeed working for the CIA, as Garrison charged, but a mountain of evidence revealed the amazing lengths to which the CIA went to infiltrate and neutralize the DA's investigation.

This included activating media friends like Walter Sheridan to spuriously discredit Garrison. In fact, the campaign mounted against Garrison was so vicious that some years later, after being forced out of his position as the chief counsel to the House Select Committee on Assassinations, Richard Sprague would state to journalist Dick Russell, " ... there is a greater ability to manipulate public opinion by certain agencies of government than I would have believed possible ... I've become more interested in the media than the assassination."

It goes back to the "invention" of PR - a term coined to replace the only word used up to that point - propaganda. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_public_relations

Sprague was also unseated in part by a negative media campaign. His crime? He refused to sign non-disclosure agreements with the intelligence community. Sprague was replaced by Robert Blakey, who made no such demands on the CIA, while uncomfortably looking away from the highly suspicious intelligence matters his investigators kept turning up. Even this farcically compromised government investigation still had to conclude there was a "conspiracy" to murder Kennedy. Blakey just remained wedded to a strenuously narrow personal view that it was a Mob operation.

That changed recently. "We… now know that the Agency set up a process that could only have been designed to frustrate the ability of the committee in 1976-79 to obtain any information that might adversely affect the Agency," Blakey states in an addendum to an interview he gave to Frontline. "Many have told me that the culture of the Agency is one of prevarication and dissimulation and that you cannot trust it or its people. Period. End of story. I am now in that camp."

Blakey's about-face happened when he learned, many years later, that the CIA's liaison with the HSCA had also been a pointsman in the Agency's Miami Cuban operations in 1963. George Joannides handled the Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil (DRE), a Cuban exile group that had interacted dramatically with the pro-Castro version of Oswald in New Orleans. In other words, Joannides was implicated in the very files he was put in charge of. The fox had been hired—taken out of retirement, even—to guard the henhouse. Nobody at the HSCA was aware of this duplicity at the time.

You think they'd have been a little more suspicious. Even J. Edgar Hoover had to admit that the CIA tended to lie about Oswald. In fact, almost everybody who bothers to look sees that the CIA has acted anything but innocently regarding its knowledge of the assassination. Everybody except a lot of well-paid members of the media establishment, any politicians who value their careers, and useful idiots like Forrest Gump, the kid from What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Stephen King, and now Jonathan Demme. Jonathan Demme! The guy who made Caged Heat! This is a painful development for some of us.

I suppose you could argue that almost 50 years after the event, it's no big thing to turn the killing of JFK into a little light entertainment, as in Stephen King's time-travel yarn about a man who goes back to stop Oswald—the guy who didn't do it—from doing it. "Who cares?" you might shrug, "It was a long time ago, and besides, using cinema as a political tool to inform, educate, and agitate is the kind of thing they do in crazy loser countries like France and Argentina."

Or you could take the view that Hollywood's magical power to mold consensual "reality" is a force better applied to the light of truth rather than to the ever widening gyre of historical misinformation, especially if one views the assassination from Stone's horribly persuasive perspective as a daylight coup brought to you by extremists in the highest levels of the establishment.

It might seem quaint now, but a smart president looking to avoid a Vietnam war was actually considered enough of a threat at one time. JFK's death allowed a monumental heave towards chaos. His killers got their war, and we've been stuck with this culture of endless conflict and consensus unreality ever since. Almost half a century later, a sitting American president—a Democrat—demonstrably supports war, torture, and the continued malfeasance of the corporate and finance sectors, and he's considered the good guy.

That, as James Douglass puts it, is why JFK's death still matters. In this context, one wonders if King and Demme realize the damage they're doing.

The opening epigraph of the King collection referred to above is the Peter Fonda line from the end of Easy Rider: "We blew it."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a book collector I own every single hard cover first edition King book from Carrie to Nightmares and Dreamscapes (I stopped buying them after that)

I will of course buy his new book about the assassination because I love Stephen Kings work

I grew up on King, reading "The Stand" at a young age was something I will never forget, it was my first large book (800+ pages)and it left quite an impression on my young mind, "The Stand" is by far his best work

I also read "IT" around age 12, it scared me to death but I loved it

My point is that even though I dont read any of Kings new stuff I will for sure buy his new book and tear into it right away

My favorite author writting about my favorite subject, it cant get any better then that can it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A more accurate portrayal of Oswald would present Kennedy’s alleged assassin as an intelligence operative involved in a false defector program, a phony Castro supporter who hung with right wing extremists and anti-Castro groups in New Orleans, a cartoon Marxist befriended by ultra-conservative White Russians in Texas, and a tragic fall-guy who was reportedly seen meeting in Dallas with the CIA’s head of Cuban operations.

I'm surprised you didn't reply to this Greg.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A more accurate portrayal of Oswald would present Kennedy's alleged assassin as an intelligence operative involved in a false defector program, a phony Castro supporter who hung with right wing extremists and anti-Castro groups in New Orleans, a cartoon Marxist befriended by ultra-conservative White Russians in Texas, and a tragic fall-guy who was reportedly seen meeting in Dallas with the CIA's head of Cuban operations.

I'm surprised you didn't reply to this Greg.

Why? It's not entirely accurate, either. But then, it wasn't making any claim other than being "more accurate" than the WC portrait... which it is.

Because you've grown on me like an ol' wart I'm too lazy to have burnt off, Len, I'll let you in a on a little secret. To understand the path Oswald was sent on, you have to understand firstly that he was sheep-dipped in NY as a "troubled youth" and why he was. I've gone down one or two wrong paths trying to figure the New York period out, but I am confident I now have the who, what and why.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Article by Adrian Mack:

http://www.straight.com/article-423937/vancouver/jonathan-demme-direct-bullxxxx-jfk-movie

But Hollywood doesn’t traffic in accurate portrayals, especially when it comes to JFK. Oliver Stone’s 1991 film is a notable exception.

Ah, well, Stone's portrayal is somewhat accurate ...

Then again, Stone's portrayal of Garrison was the heart of the movie .... and we all know how accurate that portrayal was(n't)!

:-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I heard Stephen King was writing a book about the assassination, I immediately assumed it would follow the official, lone nut line. Virtually no one in public life is permitted to state the obvious truth- that the JFK assassination was the result of a conspiracy. Left and Right are irrelevant on this issue, as they are with all significant issues. Thus, "shock" jocks like Howard Stern will declare that Oswald did it just as boldly as Rush Limbaugh will.

While some youngsters will be swayed by King's thesis, most won't. However, this should remind us, once again, just how powerful this conspiracy was, and how important the coverup still is. Tom Hanks obviously knows that Oswald didn't do it, as does Bugliosi. Stephen King, as a Baby Boomer and probable fan of JFK's, has to have read enough critical JFK assassination books to know how ludicrous the official fairy tale is. And yet, here he is, peddling it himself.

Please remember this kind of stuff, when we're lectured about this not being a huge conspiracy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Article by Adrian Mack:

http://www.straight.com/article-423937/vancouver/jonathan-demme-direct-bullxxxx-jfk-movie

But Hollywood doesn’t traffic in accurate portrayals, especially when it comes to JFK. Oliver Stone’s 1991 film is a notable exception.

Ah, well, Stone's portrayal is somewhat accurate ...

Then again, Stone's portrayal of Garrison was the heart of the movie .... and we all know how accurate that portrayal was(n't)!

:-)

Heart of the movie, I suppose. Was there a lot more accurate information portrayed in the movie? Without a doubt.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Who is Adrian Mack? Great review. He must be a blogger or something, no MSM journalist would do a review this good.

FWIW I doubt Tom Hanks has read any truthful JFK assassination books. Or Stephen King.

Dawn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Article by Adrian Mack:

http://www.straight.com/article-423937/vancouver/jonathan-demme-direct-bullxxxx-jfk-movie

But Hollywood doesn’t traffic in accurate portrayals, especially when it comes to JFK. Oliver Stone’s 1991 film is a notable exception.

Ah, well, Stone's portrayal is somewhat accurate ...

Then again, Stone's portrayal of Garrison was the heart of the movie .... and we all know how accurate that portrayal was(n't)!

:-)

Having written a book on this subject, and done much archival research on it, and edited an academic journal that did much writing about New Orleans and Garrison, and been asked by Stone to do a thirty minute AV essay for his film on the new documents on the subject, just how off was Stone?

1. Garrison commissioned an investigation of the Kennedy case the day of the assassination. TRUE

2. Ferrie's name came up. TRUE

3. Ferrie was called in for an interview and gave some strange replies. TRUE

4. Garrison referred Ferrie to the FBI. And the FBI not only let him go without batting an eyelash, they then announced it was not their idea to interview him.

If you can believe it, the above is TRUE.

5. The WC was then appointed by LBJ with some very strange people involved like Dulles, McCloy and Ford. They issued a cover up which JG did not buy. TRUE.

6. Garrison's interest was later revived. PARTLY TRUE. The latest evidence here says that he never really completely lost interest.

7. Garrison discovered that Oswald was not really a communist, partly through the 544 Camp Street address on his flyers. And partly through Martin's animus toward Banister striking him. TRUE

8. Garrison then discovered the morass that was Banister's office, and that it was a cover for anti Castro activities and the CIA. TRUE

9. Garrison then discovered that the mysterious Bertrand character was Clay Shaw. TRUE. (And by the way, the FBI knew this was so way back in 1963 and they covered it up deliberately to make Garrison look bad.)

10. Garrison's office was wired for sound. TRUE. (What the film does not reveal is that this was done twice. Once by Gordon Novel working with Walter Sheridan, and once by the FBI.)

11. Ferrie died under mysterious circumstances while he was on the verge of cracking and right before JG was going to arrest him. TRUE

12. Garrison met with a mysterious character who told him about the secret Cuba and VIetnam operations as a motive for killing Kennedy. PARTLY TRUE. Garrison did meet with Nagell in NYC, and he told him about the Cuban angle. At the time of his inquiry a professor from Ohio University wrote him a 25 page handwritten letter about Kennedy's intent to withdraw from Vietnam and how this was likely a reason for his murder. JG did adopt this position at the time. Garrison did not actually meet Prouty until well after the trial of Clay Shaw.

13. Garrison called in Shaw for questioning and Shaw gave some rather equivocal answers. TRUE.

14. While preparing for the SHaw trial, Garrison's office was infiltrated and his progress was fouled up and many attempts were made to smear him personally. TRUE.

But very much understated in the film. This covert aspect has now been partially declassified as one of the most important works of the ARRB. THe infiltration of JG's office began way before what is depicted in the film. It actually began with CIA heavy Bernardo De Torres walking into Garrison's office in late 1966 and offering to help his inquiry with former JM WAVE Cubans in Miami. A couple of months later, within 24 hours of Ferrie's death, del Valle ends up dead also, his body cut up gangland style right near De Torres' apartment. Needless to say, Ferrie and del Valle worked together and De Torres then split.

15. The media made numerous attempts to smear Garrison. TRUE.

But again, understated in the film. We know today that Sheridan was actually in contact with the CIA during the making of his infamous special. We know today that NBC, at the highest levels, cleared SHeridan to do all kinds of unethical things in order to produce his hit job. This means bribing and intimidating witnesses, tailing them at all hours of the day and night, even to church on Sundays. Threatening their livliehoods by contacting their employers and also threatening them with IRS audits. We also know that Sheridan was getting a black budget through a CIA law firm in New Orleans in order to pay infiltrators like Novel. We also know that the Life Magazine special issue on the Mafia was done in part to smear Garrison with the Mob brush and that it was worked on by FBI asset Sandy Smith, Billings, and Blakey.

16. The Paines were suspicious characters who aided the cover up. TRUE. But again very understated. Today its almost overwhelming they were undercover surveillance agents at the time and later. And they willingly participated in the cover up. (IMO at the request of Allen Dulles through his former employee and paramour Mary Bancroft.)

17. George DeM introduced Oswald to the rather odd WHite RUssian community. TRUE. WHat the film leaves out is that it was a the request of the local CIA station chief.

18. Garrison took Shaw to trial even though some in his office resisted it to the point of helping the other side. TRUE

19. Shaw was seen with Ferrie and Oswald in CLinton -Jackson. TRUE. Today there are dozens of witnesses to this and even a picture was discovered.

20. Shaw was taken to trial and Garrison played a part in the proceedings. PARTLY TRUE. Garrison did examine some witnesses and he did deliver a summation. But two assistants handled most of it since Garrison was very sick with Hong Kong FLu and a back injury.

21. Pierre Finck testified at Shaw's trial and blew open the military role in controlling the autopsy. TRUE. Though underplayed.

22. Garrison thought of calling a barmaid at Ruby's who saw Ferrie there with Oswald. NOT TRUE.

23. Willie O'Keefe was a witness for Garrison. PARTLY TRUE. This was a composite character made up of actual testimony from Dave Logan, Ray Broshears and Perry Russo. The scene where O'Keefe is introduced at a prison is based on the Alcock interview with Logan.

24. Clay Shaw had a wild gay sex life. TRUE. But I wish it had not been depicted in the film.

25. Shaw was acquitted and Garrison ran for office again and won. TRUE. But simplistic. The CIA was so angry at Garrison for bringing Shaw to trial that they plotted with local allies on the ground to recruit Harry Connick, a Justice Dept lawyer who had worked on Shaw's defense. They then brought phony charges against him, timed with a later election so even though Garrison was acquitted, it created such a distraction that Connick won. As part of his Faustian deal, Connick then began to incinerate Garrison's files left behind, and even grand jury records. Gary Raymond did not follow instructions so we have some grand jury records.

Peter, the Dave Reitzes stuff doesn't fly here.

You will have to talk to David Reitzes about his stuff. TRUE.

I've never met him or talked to him. TRUE.

"His stuff" is not in my cupboard. TRUE.

I commend your efforts. TRUE.

Our opinion on the accuracy of the portrayal of Garrison differs. TRUE.

Regards

Peter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Peter:

I just went through all the major points in the film.

If you want to bring up one of the old wives' tales about JG, fine.

But that is outside the film.

I mean you can only do so much in three hours.

The last Old Wives Tale I spent any time pondering was written by Arnold Bennett.

Too bad Raymond Burr was not well enough to play the role of Garrison.

He might have declined anyway. Garrison lost.... in a heartbeat.

Of course, Hollywood loves to idealize characters, make them larger than life.

But Costner really could never hope to match Garrison's bigger-than-life persona.

Costner could only be earnest.

Regards

Peter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...