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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Entertaining and thought-provoking film

Author: LewisSET-2 from Seoul, Korea
6 July 2005

As a serious researcher of the Kennedy assassination (and Lee Harvey Oswald in particular), I was intrigued by this film's title and grabbed it as soon as it became available on VHS.

The film is based on the supposition that Lee Harvey Oswald was not killed on November 24th, 1963, and lived to stand trial for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It was shot on location (that's worth the price in itself) and all of the key people are represented, although many of the names have been changed (possibly to avoid paying royalties to the real witnesses and players, but who knows). This could tend to be slightly irritating to researchers and serious students, but it doesn't detract from the drama as it unfolds.

I want to point out here that at no time during the film does it show Oswald doing anything illegal. We never see him with the rifle; we never see him in or around the "sniper's nest"; and we never see him shoot Officer Tippit. All conjecture. The film does tend to follow the findings of the Warren Commission Report, so new students to the assassination can get a good start here. Bottom line ... whether you believe in the lone nut theory or conspiracy, it is an entertaining and thought-provoking film.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Great revisionist history

Author: dtucker86 from Germany
27 March 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have always been a JFK assassination buff and remember seeing this movie when it first premiered on ABC when I was nine years old. The people who made it owe no apology. How many of us have wondered what might have been if history had been different. In this movie, the question is what might have happened had the world's most infamous assassin not be murdered in Dallas. It REALLY would have been the trial of the century. Henry Wade was the district attorney in Dallas at the time. He prosecuted Jack Ruby and his name is on the famous Supreme Court abortion decision, but just think fate denied him the chance to be the greatest prosecutor in history! The man who convicted Oswald. This movie is so realistic that I had to keep reminding myself that this trial didn't actually happen. I guess this is the greatest compliment you can pay. It opens with Oswald in his specially built Hannibal Lector-like cell in the Dallas county jail sometime in 1964. The radio announcer says he has been on trial for his life for the last 43 and the jury has now retired. The jury then comes back and we see the world's press rushing to their phones and Oswald being handcuffed and taken back into the courtroom to hear his fate. It then flashes back to the events of November 21-22 1963. We see him trying to reconcile with his estranged wife Marina who has been staying with a friend and then the next day he is driven to work at the School Book Depository with a mysterious package in the back seat. Then America's darkest day happens, I wanted to point out that for 1977 the assassination reenactment is very graphic, there is just no explosion of blood at the head shot that killed Kennedy. Oswald leaves the Depository, murders officer Tippet (we are to infer) and then is arrested. It then flashes ahead to him being tranferred to the county jail where a flashbulb explodes and then the fantasy starts. Jack Ruby wasn't there and he is driven off. The rest of the movie details his trial with wiley, sarcastic prosecutor Ben Gazzara versus bombastic defense attorney Lorne Greene. Actually I think it would have been better if the roles had been reversed. I can't take TV's beloved Daddy Cartwright defending one of history's most infamous criminals. The trial is handled very well as I said earlier. Lots of courtroom theatrics (I object and such). Greene with Perry Mason ease demolishes several witnesses. That is the rather ridiculous part of the film. In one part Greene cross examines the witness who took Oswald to work and saw him carry a package he said contained curtain rods into the building. He has him carry a similar package that does contain curtain rods. It should be pointed out that in real life, the Dallas police went over the Book Depository with a fine tooth comb. They found the brown wrapping paper, but no curtain rods. It then flashes ahead to an assassination reenactment at the Depository itself, something they actually did in real life. Greene is scolded by the judge for telling the jury there "might" have been a gunman on that there grassy knoll. All throughout this fantasy, Oswald is as big a man of mystery as he was in reality. Scenes show him going to Russia and associating with sinister individuals. Was he a patsy, a conspirator or just a lone nut? Maybe SPOILER ALERT He clams up on the witness stand when Greene tries to get him to come clean and then erupts chillingly when Gazzara uses an unusual cross examination technique. Did Oswald decide to kill Kennedy because he felt Marina was attracted to him? Stranger theories have been proposed! SPOILER ALERT. MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!!!! I am disappointed at the conclusion and think the filmmakers lost heart. Read these words backwards if you want to really know how it ends: alone ours is verdict final the and jury only the are we screen the on flashes it Ruby by shot then is he verdict the hear to led being is Oswald while conclusion the at.Despite this, it is a great film. Vincent Bugliosi, the Manson prosecutor recently wrote a massive study of the case and said that in real life ANY jury would have convicted Oswald and sentenced him to death. There was just too much evidence.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

very well done..very compelling

Author: beauzee from United States
6 November 2014

although the conclusion is plausible, conceivable, it is ultimately useless: I wasn't there, but many credible sources say that there was an approx. 1.5 second interval between 2 of the if LHO shot a gun that day, he had a "partner", probably to JFK's right; there is MINUS-ZERO evidence LHO was perched at that window as JFK passed.

tempered by those rational points...I thoroughly enjoyed the layout of the film, the pacing, and esp. the great performance of Lorne Greene.

buy this it as you would watch any "movie house" movie. the "conspiracy" resolution here might not satisfy your curiosity or investigative urges but it will make you stand up off your loveseat!

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A Great "What If "Movie!

Author: bomm1002 from United States
18 January 2006

When my dad told me that there was a movie he saw about what may of happen if Oswald had been Trailed for the murder of President John Kennedy, i told him i had to see this movie. So we went and looked every where for it and finally we found it on the internet. When i watch the movie i couldn't believe how the actor who played Oswald looked so much like him. One of the main reasons i enjoyed this movie is because I'm a big Kennedy conspiracy nut. This movie really made me think, It would have been interesting to hear what Oswald had to say, what did he know, and if he did kill the President, why? Was he part a group who were mad at Kennedy because of his way of handling communism, or was he just crazy? "The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald" is a wonderful "what if" movie, and if you like conspiracy's this is a movie for you. And as you are watch think, did Lee Harvey Oswald really kill The President of the United States or was he in fact a patsy?

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The Trial Of Lee Harvey Oswald - 1977

Author: a_baron from United Kingdom
6 August 2014

On November 22, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald gunned down the President of the United States in the most spectacular assassination in history. He was arrested in double quick time, not for the Kennedy assassination, but for the cold-blooded execution of a police officer who perhaps acting on instinct had challenged him in a routine stop.

It took no time at all for the authorities to connect Oswald to the first crime, and in due course he would have been indicted for the assassination, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. But forty-eight hours after the crime of the century, Oswald himself fell victim to an assassin's bullet.

Up to a point, this docu-drama does a reasonable job of tracing that predictable but abandoned future by airbrushing Jack Ruby out of the picture and putting Oswald on trial. There are no faults with the acting, especially that of John Pleshette who bears a more than superficial resemblance to Oswald and who mimics the mannerisms and moods of this narcissistic non-entity to a tee. Unfortunately, towards the end the film loses its way in a maze of manufactured conspiracy. While it is true that these imaginary conspiracies were extant rather than newly invented, a more straightforward approach would have had true historical legitimacy.

Nevertheless, some people will have liked it, and the ending is certainly novel, like everything else about the life and death of Lee Harvey Oswald.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Reasonable movie, not great but worth watching.

Author: robbo7 from United Kingdom
21 October 2009

I'm usually no conspiracy theorist, princess diana, 9/11 all i can say is yawn but this is very different, nobody no matter what they say knows for certain what happened on that day, other than president kennedy and john connolly were shot, how many shots,how many shooters, who did the firing,Did Oswald act alone,did he fire any shots, was he in fact on the 6th floor at that time,the magic bullet truth or fiction? so all these and more are questions that still have not been conclusively proved either way.

The film certainly is not the standard 'toe the official line' and treat the public like little children fair usually dished up when discussing this particular episode in American and world history, by the mainstream media, who are prepared to air the latest claptrap about princess diana, michael jackson and 9/11 CTS, but always shy away from even questioning the events leading up to nov 22 1963... the movie has some good acting and is at least occasionally prepared to move away from the WC bible although predictably it ends up coming back onside.

So to end a good movie but we are still awaiting a truly definitive movie to be made about this enduring mystery man named lee harvey oswald.

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8 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Kindling For the Fire

Author: tvlnow from United States
25 October 2006

I saw this movie as a kid and then watched it from a library copy a week ago.

Since my original viewing I have intensely studies the various conspiracy theories, including the Federal Government's conspiracy theory: that a lone nut gunman who happened to be a USMC, Russian speaking defector, with US Naval Intelligence credentials, who flew back from the USSR at the height of the Cold War on a state department ticket, to repatriate in the US without a passport, who enjoyed the company of virulent right-wingers, assassinated the President with a Manlicher-Carcano (known as the Italian "humanitarian" rifle during WW2 because its barrel rifling was so bad) that he bought mail-order from Chicago, when he could have bought something better from just about anywhere in Texas back in 1962.

Yeah, these conspiracy theorists are real whack jobs.

Watch this movie to stoke the fires of your interest in discovering the truth. And don't let anyone call you a liberal or leftist just because you won't swallow the propaganda.

Think for yourself.

This movie is a good place to start.

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The Return Of The Ghost of the Sequel of Lee Harvey Oswald

Author: aesgaard41 from United States
17 August 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In 1977, there were two movies based on historical fiction. One was called "The Lincoln Conspiracy" and revealed how Radical Republicans plotted to kidnap Abraham Lincoln to extend the Civil War and then rushed to cover up their treason after Booth assassinated Lincoln and allegedly got away with it. The problem with the movie is that it had the guts to try and pass itself off as the "true" story despite the overwhelming evidence in the State Archives that says otherwise. In "The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald," the historical fiction unlike Oliver Stone's "JFK" is instead used as a plot device to examine the alleged possible JFK conspiracy and in doing so debunks it rather neatly, exposing Oswald as what we all knew he really was, just an angry lone nut. In this alternate history, Oswald is instead brought to trial in a scenario with actor John Pleshette as the faux Oswald. It has a slow start before finally picking up with the recreation of the assassination and the recreation of the trial as it might have gone had it really happened. Actor Ben Gazzara plays prosecutor Anson Roberts, and Lorne Greene of "Bonanza" fame is defense lawyer Matthew Arnold Watson, but they're actually just guides through the known history of Oswald with recreations of chosen historical events leading up to the assassination. A few incidents are omitted, such as Oswald's street fight with the Cubans and his attempted assassination of General Edwin Walker. The fictional framing does well to paint a much better picture of Oswald that "JFK" ever did, a movie where he barely appears for more than ten minutes in the movie's three hours. "The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald" actually credibly tries the real Oswald without perpetuating the conspiracy theory, instead pushing it off to the sidelines as rumor. Pleshette's Oswald is more than willing to perpetuate it if he thinks it will keep him from going to jail, all the time being the most difficult defendant in history as he schemes to be the next Lizzie Borden and live to see the results of the chaos he creates. Pleshette gives an extraordinary performance more enhanced by Ben Gazzara and Lorne Greene's attempts to get at the truth before history once again takes over. While it's hard to say how much of this film is accurate, it does give a picture of how Oswald would have likely played the system had he lived to see trial and that's where the movie succeeds by how it merges reality and fiction to hopefully find the truth.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Better Than "JFK" Ever Will Be

Author: Eric-62 from Athens, OH
4 June 1999

With all due respect to the previous viewer, what makes this speculative TV movie so effective is *because* it ends up coming down on the side of the Warren Commission conclusions for the most part, which have been vindicated by all subsequent investigations and serious historical analyses, particularly Gerald Posner in "Case Closed." A priceless moment is when the judge berates Oswald's defense attorney (Lorne Greene) for deliberately injecting a grassy knoll gunman during a shooting demonstration.

Skip "JFK", which is all about making things up out of thin air to fit a biased theory. Watch this instead if you can, along with the 1992 Quantum Leap episode "The Oswald Conspiracy".

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Nobody said it was a true story.

Author: Ddey65 from United States
5 July 2003

As I stated in my comment regarding JFK(1991), I'm not willing to dismiss any conspiracy theory regarding the Kennedy assassination, unless it's completely devoid of facts, such as in Oliver Stone's propaganda piece. Somebody criticized it for echoing the Warren Commission report, but I don't think this movie supports the Warren Commission's line at all, in fact it offers the possibility of other groups who might've wanted Kennedy dead, including the Ku Klux Klan, who is rarely considered despite the fact that they were so determined to kill in order to resist an integrated south.

What we all have to remember that this is pure fiction, since Oswald never lived to go to trial, and Robert Thompson never implied that it was the truth, unlike Oliver Stone who firmly believes his left-wing rhetoric, and expects us to do the same. This TV-Movie and the play it was based on offers all kinds of speculation of who else may or may have not worked with Oswald. Even die-hard believers in the Warren Commission have to accept the fact that Oswald SAID he was a patsy. Was he telling the truth, or was he just trying to throw the spotlight off of himself? Just what would've happened if Jack Ruby never killed him on live television, can only be speculated by all sides. At least Thompson tried to give us something to consider.

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