Jump to content
The Education Forum

The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew

Recommended Posts

Criterion has issued a 2 disc package of these milestone films by Robert Drew. In my opinion it is a really valuable contribution to history. And if you have not seen them, you should. "Primary" and "Crisis" seem to me to be almost mandatory viewing. To my knowledge, they are both pretty much unique.

Criterion did its usual fine job of attaching supplements that are generally interesting and educational.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Primary" and "Crisis" seem to me to be almost mandatory viewing. To my knowledge, they are both pretty much unique.

Finally! Something that Jim D. and I agree on! It's a miracle!





Edited by David Von Pein
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Uh oh, I need to take a break.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@James & David:

I've felt all along that David Von Pein suffers from LOR while James & myself are victims of TMR.

'LOR' is lack of Rodgers. 'TMR' is too much Rodgers.

Mrs. Rodgers was my 5th grade teacher who felt something was 'fishy' about the news coverage of JFK's murder. Many times I've read heated exchanges between the two esteemed authors & researchers that could have been quickly settled by Mrs. Rodgers & her hand smacking ruler (lol).

Mrs. Rodgers was ahead of her time in regards to JFK researchers & analysis. She read everything available, watched all the TV coverage (3 channels worth back then), listened to radio debates. Mrs. Rodgers patiently explained to me & my classmates many times that NO ONE waltzes back & forth between the Soviet Union & the USA, then hands out threatening leaflets in public advocating peaceful relations with an enemy country (Cuba) without immediately being arrested & tossed into jail by the FBI. The fact that LHO skated through those escapades (and others) told Mrs. Rodgers that LHO was NOT a nobody & the US Government of that day was protecting him up until Jack Ruby pulled LHO's plug. Mrs. Rodgers was the 1st person I met that suspected JFK was murdered by the Secret Service (a belief I still hold today).

To argue with Mrs. Rodgers resulted in an offender spending much of their time out in the hallway healing their ruler smacked hand (LOL). I suspect David would have lived out in her hallway.

The films James describes are especially pertinent to this year's Presidential Election process & shenanigans. The election processes seem so out of control & 'dog eat dog' today when compared to how things were done 'back in the day' that JFK ran for POTUS


Edited by Brad Milch
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The election processes seem so out of control & 'dog eat dog' today when compared to how things were done 'back in the day' that JFK ran for POTUS.

But there was certainly some "dog eat dog" bickering going on in Kennedy's era too, as we can see here:

Edited by David Von Pein
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Getting back to Primary, that film is really fascinating to watch because it shows how small scale those kinds of races used to be.

Everything was done on a hit or miss basis. The candidates and their entourages were not at all centralized like they are now.

So you actually see things like HHH talking to like ten people at a corner store. Or Kennedy standing outside a factory gate.

That kind of stuff almost never happens today. Especially with the top candidates in an important state like Wisconsin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As per Crisis, although the press said that the Kennedys won, and it was all scripted by RFK, that is not really true.

If you watch the film, they really did not know what Wallace was going to do. Wallace had something like 900 state troopers he brought with him. The Kennedys and Abrams brought in 3000, but Wallace's men were right there on campus. The Kennedys did not want their guys in uniform or in the middle of the campus. Because that would have played into Wallace's hands and given him the image of the north invading the south like the Civil War. Which is why Abrams was not in uniform.

In the film RFK talks about perhaps shoving Wallace aside and breaking in through the far door. But they ultimately discard that and go with nationalizing the state guard. Good thing Graham cooperated and did not pull a Robert E. Lee on them.

BTW, how many people knew that the brilliant novelist Richard Yates wrote the early draft for JFK's epochal speech which he gave that night on national TV? Yates was freelancing for RFK as a speech writer at the time.

One last point: was that an incredible 48 hours or what?

1. JFK makes a powerful civil rights speech in Hawaii

2. He then makes the Peace Speech at American University

3. Then comes the face off with Wallace at Alabama (Which I actually watched on TV.)

4. That night he makes what is probably the greatest civil rights address since Lincoln

5. Medgar Evers calls his wife and tells her to keep the kids up, he wants to talk to them about the speech. Evers is assassinated in his driveway.

All in two days. That is why its called The Sensational Sixities.

Edited by James DiEugenio
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I see I did not complete my thought about who won this confrontation.

The Kennedys won the Alabama face off and the general idea that black students could go to colleges of their choice.

But near the end of the film, Wallace says that the South will now decide presidential elections.

Which ended up being true, since it was this civil rights struggle that turned the Solid South from Democratic to Republican. See, both Wallace and Ross Barnett were Democrats. Kennedy was largely fighting with his own party. After those two conflicts, at Ole Miss and Alabama, where Barnett and Wallace arranged for federal troops to descend on campus, this greatly aided the political transformation that Kevin Phillips predicted in his book, The Emerging Republican Majority. And which Nixon then used to win two elections. It stayed that way until now, in other words for almost 50 years.

Sometimes you do the morally right thing, and you lose politically. But that's what made JFK who he was.

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
  • Create New...