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Executive Action


John Simkin
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I watched Executive Action for the first time last night. For those who don't know it is a 1973 movie about the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. I think it is an impressive film. It was produced by Edward Lewis, who made Spartacus, another film with a strong left-wing message. Spartacus also broke the McCarthy blacklist of Hollywood by employing Dalton Trumbo, as the screenwriter. Trumbo also wrote Executive Action. The story for the film came from Donald Freed and Mark Lane. Advisors on the film included David Lifton and Penn Jones.

The film is shown from the conspirators point of view. The main sponsor is Robert Foster (Robert Ryan) a Texas oil baron, who has been upset by JFK proposal on 17th January, 1963, to do away with the oil depletion allowance. It is estimated that the proposed removal of the oil depletion allowance would result in a loss of around $300 million a year to Texas oilmen. Foster is probably based on Clinton Murchison.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKoildepletion.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKmurchison.htm

Reference is also made by Foster about JFK's move to the left (civil rights, Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, nuclear disarmament, desire to bring an end to the Cold War, removing troops from South Vietnam).

The assassination is organised by James Farrington (Burt Lancaster), a black operations specialist who used to work with the CIA. I imagine that Farrington is based on David Morales. Ed Lauter (Carl Elmer Jenkins) is the man who trains the assassination team. This part of the film is very convincing.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKmorales.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKjenkinsC.htm

After the assassination, Foster arranges for Farrington to have a heart attack. At the end of the film a photo collage is shown of 18 witnesses: all but two of whom died from unnatural causes within three years of the assassination. A voice-over says that an actuary of the British newspaper The Sunday Times calculated the probability that all these people who witnessed the assassination would die within that period of time to be 1000 trillion to one. For some reason, the names and the photos are not of the people who actually died. Other names are also changed during the film.

The film opened on 7th November, 1973, to a storm of controversy. Several television stations refused to show trailers for the film. Very few cinemas showed the film and it was completly pulled by December 1973. It was not shown on television until the mid 1990s when Ted Turner bought the rights to the movie.

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I watched Executive Action for the first time last night. For those who don't know it is a 1973 movie about the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. I think it is an impressive film. It was produced by Edward Lewis, who made Spartacus, another film with a strong left-wing message. It also broke the McCarthy blacklist of Hollywood by employing Dalton Trumbo, as the screenwriter. Trumbo also wrote Executive Action. The story for the film came from Donald Freed and Mark Lane. Advisors on the film included David Lifton and Penn Jones.

The film is shown from the conspirators point of view. The main sponsor is Robert Foster (Robert Ryan) a Texas oil baron, who has been upset by JFK proposal on 17th January, 1963, to do away with the oil depletion allowance. It is estimated that the proposed removal of the oil depletion allowance would result in a loss of around $300 million a year to Texas oilmen. Foster is probably based on Clinton Murchison.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKoildepletion.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKmurchison.htm

Reference is also made by Foster about JFK's move to the left (civil rights, Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, nuclear disarmament, desire to bring an end to the Cold War, removing troops from South Vietnam).

The assassination is organised by James Farrington (Burt Lancaster), a black operations specialist who used to work with the CIA. I imagine that Farrington is based on David Morales. Ed Lauter (Carl Elmer Jenkins) is the man who trains the assassination team. This part of the film is very convincing.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKmorales.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKjenkinsC.htm

After the assassination, Foster arranges for Farrington to have a heart attack. At the end of the film a photo collage is shown of 18 witnesses: all but two of whom died from unnatural causes within three years of the assassination. A voice-over says that an actuary of the British newspaper The Sunday Times calculated the probability that all these people who witnessed the assassination would die within that period of time to be 1000 trillion to one. For some reason, the names and the photos are not of the people who actually died. Other names are also changed during the film.

The film opened on 7th November, 1973, to a storm of controversy. Several television stations refused to show trailers for the film. Very few cinemas showed the film and it was completly pulled by December 1973. It was not shown on television until the mid 1990s when Ted Turner bought the rights to the movie.

More here: http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=10713

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Hi John, I also live in the UK and I assume that you recorded this from from the TCM Channel from a couple of weeks ago as I did.

I watched the film last week and one of the most interesting scenes, from my point of view, is the sequence at around the hour mark in the movie where the assassination team visit Dealey Plaza. They appear in the film to be given access to a number of locations including the Book Depository, the County Records building and the Dal Tex building.

There is a fascianting overhead helicopter shot which pans around Dealey Plaza from above and provides an excellent perspective on the scale of the area for someone who has never been there. I found this whole sequence to be fascinating given that the film was made just 10 years or so after the actual event.

One other sequence which stood out was the shooting sequence which portrayed 4 or 5 hits, with rear shots coming from both the Book Depository and the County Records building.

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I went to see this movie in the theater when it opened in 1973. I remember that we were given a "newspaper"-type publication that accompanied the movie. To me, I still consider it better than Stone's "JFK" because of its from-the-conspirators viewpoint. Plus, some of the early WC critics ( i.e. Mark Lane and Penn Jones ) were consultants on the film.

The only part that bogged me down was the necessity for the conspirators to have the support of the Will Geer character, "Harold". Without it, they could not proceed. They made him out to be reluctant at first, then being "forced" to go along with the plot because of Kennedy's disagreeable actions.

I'm not so sure that anyone reluctant to kill the President would have done so without first exhausting every other option available to him.

But it is a good story and I recommend it. What it does is show you how a conspiracy COULD have existed and been successful.

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I went to see this movie in the theater when it opened in 1973. I remember that we were given a "newspaper"-type publication that accompanied the movie. To me, I still consider it better than Stone's "JFK" because of its from-the-conspirators viewpoint. Plus, some of the early WC critics ( i.e. Mark Lane and Penn Jones ) were consultants on the film.

The only part that bogged me down was the necessity for the conspirators to have the support of the Will Geer character, "Harold". Without it, they could not proceed. They made him out to be reluctant at first, then being "forced" to go along with the plot because of Kennedy's disagreeable actions.

I'm not so sure that anyone reluctant to kill the President would have done so without first exhausting every other option available to him.

But it is a good story and I recommend it. What it does is show you how a conspiracy COULD have existed and been successful.

This is very much my view of the film. I suppose you could argue that once Harold had been approached, it was dangerous to go ahead with the assassination. However, Harold changes his mind after seeing an item on television news about JFK's decision to withdraw from Vietnam. Maybe they were trying to show that Vietnam was the main reason for the assassination.

The film also has some great clips from JFK's speeches, including the quotation from George Bernard Shaw: "Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not." The same quote, this time uncredited, was used by Ted Kennedy at Bobby's funeral.

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I went to see this movie in the theater when it opened in 1973. I remember that we were given a "newspaper"-type publication that accompanied the movie. To me, I still consider it better than Stone's "JFK" because of its from-the-conspirators viewpoint. Plus, some of the early WC critics ( i.e. Mark Lane and Penn Jones ) were consultants on the film.

The only part that bogged me down was the necessity for the conspirators to have the support of the Will Geer character, "Harold". Without it, they could not proceed. They made him out to be reluctant at first, then being "forced" to go along with the plot because of Kennedy's disagreeable actions.

I'm not so sure that anyone reluctant to kill the President would have done so without first exhausting every other option available to him.

But it is a good story and I recommend it. What it does is show you how a conspiracy COULD have existed and been successful.

In reading David Talbot's Devil Dog - The Amazing True Story of the Man who Saved America - Smedley D. Butler - the ex-Marine is approached by a group of men opposed to the administration of Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s, and asked Butler to lead a march of Veterans on Washington and support a coup they were engineering to take over the government. The businessmen who approached him said that Gen. MacArthur had recommended him, and when Butler played along, he learned the identities of the money men behind the coup - DuPont, J.P. Morgan, et al., and when he testified before Congress he exposed the plot rather than enjoin it. Of course Luce's Time, the Washington Post and other mainstream publications ridiculed him rather than investigate his allegations, but when they were investigated it turned out to be true.

Burt Lancaster played a similar role in Executive Action, and Robert Ryan as well. Ryan knew he was dying of cancer when he made the movie.

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Big Hollywood has produced some great films, but for me it will always be Executive Action, in no small part because of the subject matter.

The back story of how it came to be made, the shoestring budget, the actors working for scale, the small distribution company which shut down

after EA was released, the incredible controversy during it's release and abbreviated theatre run all contribute to the mystique.

After the film was yanked from theatres, it remained out of circulation for a decade. I remember coming out of the theatre with my mother, feeling angry.

I knew the movie was fictive, but I also knew that somewhere there were evil men that got away with the murder of a President. And most people didn't care.

None of those other films affected me as viscerally as Executive Action did.

Executive Action is available on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VAOVhwLkEU

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Not a perfect or comprehensive film, but very important, and needed, in its time. That film, and seeing Mark Lane show the Z-film in 1974, set me up for life.

Re: the scene where a fire team has access to the TSBD roof, and the Hertz sign still standing during the filming. FWIW, Gerry Hemming once said that the TSBD team had keys to the building, entered at night, spent the night under the sign, and rapelled down to the top floor in the morning. I think this is in one of Webermann's nodules. Again, only FWIW.

Edited by David Andrews
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Not a perfect or comprehensive film, but very important, and needed, in its time. That film, and seeing Mark Lans show the Z-film in 1974, set me up for life.

Re: the scene where a fire team has access to the TSBD roof, and the Hertz sign still standing during the filming. FWIW, Gerry Hemming once said that the TSBD team had keys to the building, entered at night, spent the night under the sign, and rapelled down to the top floor in the morning. I think this is in one of Webermann's nodules, again only FWIW.;

Great film showing the framing of Lee Oswald. Great lines too! It has been several years since I owned/watched it.

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I own a LASER DISC of the film -- Yes, that's right, I said: LASER DISC. I have no way of playing it, but still it's a great souvenir! If anyone has a LD player and is interested I might consider parting with it. Excellent condition. As for the film itself, I think it is a must see for several of the reasons already mentioned. Is it the last word on the assassination? Of course not. However, it is an important one.

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I watched Executive Action for the first time last night. For those who don't know it is a 1973 movie about the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. I think it is an impressive film.

The assassination is organised by James Farrington (Burt Lancaster), a black operations specialist who used to work with the CIA. I imagine that Farrington is based on David Morales. Ed Lauter (Carl Elmer Jenkins) is the man who trains the assassination team. This part of the film is very convincing.

I agree that Executive Action is a tremendous film. It was a very bold project considering it was less than 10 years after the assassination and I think everyone who worked on the film knew it would be extremely controversial.

I'm very interested in learning more about Carl Elmer Jenkins. Are there any other photographs of him available besides his passport?

There are only a small handful of documents on Mary Ferrell on him as well. Jenkins did use the pseudonym "James E. Beckhoff." Here are a couple worth noting:

Safe Houses for AMWORLD as discussed with Michael C. CHOADIN

11/21/63 Telecom with Beckhoff [Jenkins] and Reuteman [shackley]

11/1/67 Possible Guerrilla Activity in Chile

Does anyone know if he used any other field names, and if so, what they were? Anything at all would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,

Zach

Edited by Zach Robertson
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I'm very interested in learning more about Carl Elmer Jenkins. Are there any other photographs of him available besides his passport?

The photocopy of his passport photograph is all I could get from my usual source. Maybe Wikileaks could provide me with a better picture.

Hi John, I also live in the UK and I assume that you recorded this from from the TCM Channel from a couple of weeks ago as I did.

I watched the film last week and one of the most interesting scenes, from my point of view, is the sequence at around the hour mark in the movie where the assassination team visit Dealey Plaza. They appear in the film to be given access to a number of locations including the Book Depository, the County Records building and the Dal Tex building.

There is a fascianting overhead helicopter shot which pans around Dealey Plaza from above and provides an excellent perspective on the scale of the area for someone who has never been there. I found this whole sequence to be fascinating given that the film was made just 10 years or so after the actual event.

One other sequence which stood out was the shooting sequence which portrayed 4 or 5 hits, with rear shots coming from both the Book Depository and the County Records building.

Yes, I recorded it on TCM. I was also interested in the helicopter shots of Dealey Plaza. I was lucky enough to get to Dealey Plaza a couple of years ago. You don't have to be a military expert to realize it was an ideal spot for an ambush.

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The photocopy of his passport photograph is all I could get from my usual source. Maybe Wikileaks could provide me with a better picture.

I wonder if Julian Assange takes requests?

My favorite line from the movie is when the Oswald Imposter [James MacColl in his only film role] is at the car dealership and says something like: “If I was a doctor, and I wanted to give the world an enema, I'd stick the nozzle right here in Dallas, Texas.”

Zach

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