Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Is It the Real Thing?

Nearly 50 years after his assassination, John F. Kennedy continues to exert his almost mystical grip on us.

He certainly has a hold on Texas. Perhaps it's a self–flagellation thing for permitting him to be killed here.

Dallas doesn't always seem to give much attention to the anniversary of the assassination, but, otherwise, the Dallas media — and, by extension, the state media — are suckers for anything Kennedy.

Dallas' ABC affiliate, WFAA, reported recently that some film of Kennedy at a party in Houston the night before his assassination in 1963 has surfaced. Such film footage, we are told, is extremely rare, and some museums have expressed an interest in acquiring it.

The 8–millimeter film, WFAA reported, was shot by a man who is now 88 years old. Supposedly, it sat in a drawer in his living room "for decades."

You can see the film at the top of this post.

Although I guess that sort of assumes the film is authentic.

Oh, clearly, that's JFK and Jackie in the film. They're the only people who can be clearly seen for any length of time, and I'm quite confident that's the president and the first lady. If they're impostors, they're flawless.

But I see nothing else in the film that would make it clear where the footage was shot — or when. Jackie's not wearing the pink outfit she wore the day of the assassination, and the president is wearing an ordinary suit. And I can't identify any of the people who are briefly seen with Kennedy. I see no landmarks in the background that could confirm they were in Houston.

For awhile, the Kennedys are seen sitting on what appears to be a stage with what seems to be a mariachi band standing behind them. That's a stereotypical image of Texas, I guess, and maybe it legitimizes the claim that the film is from the night before Kennedy's assassination. But it could have been footage from the 1960 presidential campaign.

Kennedy had a Texan on his ticket in 1960, but it was still a tight race here. I don't know how many times he campaigned in Texas, but he wanted to win Texas (which he did), and it seems likely to me that he campaigned in Texas a few times. And a mariachi band must have played at a Kennedy rally at least once.

The 1960 race was very close, and Kennedy may well have campaigned in New Mexico (a small state, which he also won by a narrow margin) and California (his opponent's home state, which Kennedy narrowly lost).

Look at the film and tell me this: Doesn't it look like it could have been shot just about anywhere? And at any time? If it wasn't shot during the presidential campaign, it could have been a presidential appearance from any time in the nearly three years he was president.

Can anyone who is seen with President Kennedy be identified as a Houston bigshot — the mayor, perhaps, or some other prominent person?

I'm just looking for a little verification, some authenticity here. Can anyone help me out?

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