One of the tent-pole events during the somewhat ghoulish television blitz of President Kennedy specials capitalizing on the 50th anniversary of his assassination was, of course, the dramatic adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Kennedy, which premiered on the NatGeo network Sunday night. Considering the source material, it’s not hard to imagine the simplistic quality of the movie’s content.
Being a student of the Kennedy presidency, I’ve seen a lot of versions of the story and this was easily the worst — or perhaps tied for the worst alongside Joel Surnow’s despicable mini-series The Kennedys. (The best of batch, for reference sake, is Thirteen Days, with the great Bruce Greenwood as the president and Steven Culp as the most compelling on-screen Bobby Kennedy to date. Not only is it a great Kennedy movie, but it’s one of my all-time favorite films.)
Killing Kennedy, on the other hand, was a great big nothing.
No insights. No interesting details we didn’t already know about. No heart. It was as if O’Reilly and the producers went out on the street and asked passers-by for broadstroke off-the-top-of-their-heads bits of what they recall from the Kennedy years, then compiled the responses into script form and commanded a bunch of workable actors in 1963 regalia to recite the lines with regional accents. The result? A Hallmark Channel movie-of-the-week version of the Kennedy assassination.
Put another way, if you only knew the Kennedy presidency based on O’Reilly’s movie, you’d be aware of these five things… [CONTINUE READING]