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I waited a long time for this mini-series to come to VHS, and even
longer for it to hit DVD! Whenever I see a portrayal of a member of the
Kennedy family in film or on TV, this is the film I compare it to, and
this film comes out on top every time! Martin Sheen is not JFK's
physical twin, but his speech patterns are perfect. Blair Brown
delivers the best portrayal of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy you're likely to
see, ever. The supporting cast is great, as well. I think only
"Thirteen Days" ranks with the supporting cast portrayals, but Sheen's
JFK is far and away the best on film!
Anyone interested in the Kennedy clan would enjoy and learn a lot from this film!
Movies about the Kennedy family (miniseries as well) lets face it they are a dime a dozen. People have a never-ending fascination with them and filmakers have always done their best to exploit this said fascination. I remember watching this miniseries in 1983 (it was released on the 20th anniversary of Kennedy's death). I saw it again recently when I was home on leave from Germany. It is the best Kennedy show ever. Martin Sheen is an amazing actor and Blair Brown is equally good as Jackie. The thing I liked best is that Sheen did an amazing job copying Kennedy's accent. Some of the actors who play him don't even bother putting on a Boston accent but Sheen's is flawless. If you had just closed your eyes you would have really thought that was Kennedy talking! He is that good. I particularly liked it when he re-created Kennedy's inagural address (he said many other eloquent things besides ask not what your country can do for you ask what you can do for your country). What was chilling was Vincent Gardenia's portrayal of J. Edgar Hoover. He portrays him as evil as an almost Shakespeare llke villan. They always show him in dark lighting and he speaks in a sinister voice. I remember because he was in a Walt Disney movie I liked called The Last Flight Of Noah's Ark. The other thing that I wanted to mention is the reenactment of the assassination. It is also chilling and makes you realize how horrible it really was. It was like darkness at noon.
This three part, six hour mini series was originally released in November of 1983, which was the 20th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Martin Sheen plays JFK and Blair Brown plays Jackie, both do great jobs. I remember seeing the entire film many, many years ago; it use to come on every November, but I have not honestly seen it from start to finish in a couple years on TV. As I recall, the series starts out on November 22, 1963, showing Rose Kennedy sitting in her living room and hearing about the assassination of her son on the news, then it cuts into 1960 when JFK was running for the presidency. The series then covers the very important personal and historical events of Kennedy's life and administration in the two years he was in the White House. Of course it ends with that dark day in Dallas. The scene of the assassination is very brutal but also very real and shows how quick it really happened and how fast history changed.
This mini-series more than earned its BAFTA award. It was well acted, true to the facts recorded in most books on the Kennedys, and very emotive. I was particularly impressed by Blair Brown as Jackie, and Nesbitt Blaisdell as an eerily convincing LBJ. Martin Sheen was Martin Sheen in the look-a-like stakes, but he put across the personality, temperament, and accent of Kennedy superbly, which is a lot harder than merely resembling a person. (Although, when watching the original footage of the inaugural address on the DVD version, I had to wonder if Sheen had maybe overdone the famous Boston accent slightly). The tension of the Cuban Missile Crisis was well captured, and the dramatisation of the assassination was the right balance of effect and imagination. Blair Brown's portrayal of Jackie's shock and grief stood up to the raw emotion of the opening scenes, perfectly bookending this amazing series.
This may well be the definitive "Kennedy" film in terms of historical accuracy and honesty, positing forth the best and less-than-best of this so-called Camelot administration. Martin Sheen is, as usual, outstanding in the title role, and his Kennedy not only bares his fallacies but impresses an honest sense of public service. As the former first lady, Blair Brown is nothing less than superb, and her Jacqueline Kennedy is eerily touching, especially with her voiced-over prophecy of her "appointment with death." Together, Sheen and Blair actually generate the sense of youth and glamour that distinquished the real administration. They are more than aptly backed up by a stellar supporting cast headed by John Shea (RKF), E.G. Marshall (Joe Sr.) and the late Vincent Gardenia (as a sinister, throughly unlikeable J. Edgar Hoover). There are apparently two versions on the market: the edited and the unedited. Go for the latter; the former is so badly chopped up that the historical value is lost. My only question: where the heck can I get the original five-hour cassette (and I've looked!)? My other one's worn out! From the scholarship standpoint, this film is an important historical resource.
I remember when this movie was first aired in 1983 on the 20th anniversary of JFK's assassination. I was fed-up with all the Kennedy-mania at that time and I normally don't care for Martin Sheen. I remember seeing the ads for this movie on TV and I recalled that Martin Sheen had portrayed Bobby Kennedy in The Missiles of October, which was a very dry, 1974 TV movie that I couldn't sit through. Based on those factors, I decided not to watch this one when it originally aired. A few years later it was rerun on the 25th Anniversary of the JFK assassination. Between the time it first aired, and the 1988 rerun, I had seen a TV movie called Hoover Versus The Kennedys the Second Civil War with Jack Warden and was very intrigued by it so when this one aired in 1988, I decided to watch it, and tape it, and I was not disappointed. As I pointed out, Martin Sheen is not my favorite actor but he is absolutely superb in this mini-series. This mini-series was very well done and has some big name actors in it which you do not normally see in made for TV movies. Historically and objectively, the movie is pretty good. As one reviewer stated, it shows "their warts" as well as their triumphs. A couple of historical mistakes there are cars from the 1980s seen on the street as Jackie is conversing during a car ride. Also, Ethel Kennedy makes a reference to Marilyn Monroe singing Happy Birthday to JFK during a family event that takes place in 1963. I do not recall which event it was in the movie but Monroe actually died in August 1962 so it could not have happened the way that it is portrayed. Perhaps the writers just had to fit it in where they could. E.G. Marshall was stunning as Joseph Kennedy Sr. and Geraldine Fitzgerald was excellent too. The entire supporting cast was great and I really liked Vincent Gardenia's J. Edgar Hoover. The fact that Hoover's scenes were usually done in low light perhaps portrayed him as more sinister than he was but hey, it's a TV movie. I agree with the other reviewer who calls it "The Best Kennedy movie ever." It is very good. I believe the History Channel now owns it. Definitely worth taking the time to watch.
I watched the Kennedy Miniseries last Saturday on the History Channel. Blair Brown made a perfect Jackie Kennedy in very way but voice. She recreated that presence. I also loved watching Ellen Parker, a New York Stage actress and Guiding Light Emmy Winner as Mrs. Bobby Kennedy. Geraldine Fitzgerald made the perfect choice to play Rose Kennedy in every way. She should have won an Emmy for it. Martin Sheen really perfected the Boston accent and was the perfect choice to play a President many years later on the West Wing. Even Kelsey Grammar had a bit part. I enjoyed Vincent Gardenia's performance as J. Edgar Hoover (They should change the name of the FBI building because of him). I now really believe that he had something to do with the Kennedy assassinations. Overall, the seven hours flew by. Everything appeared near perfect. I am giving it a 9 because I think it could have used some editing but it is still worth watching any day. I also give it a 9 because I think they left out some scandalous activity in the Kennedy family. I think the world loves the Kennedys because they America's unofficial royal family. Now that they are so few of them, it makes us miss them ever more.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this on TV when it was first aired (and thought it was brilliant) but had not seen it for a long time until I recently bought the video set - and realised why I wanted to see it again. It has to be the best ever film about the Kennedy era. All the characters look right, and if you listen to Martin Sheen delivering the inauguration speech (and look away from the screen), you can *hear* the voice of JFK - I almost thought Sheen must be miming to the original soundtrack, but he had the accent to perfection, and also the mannerisms. Blair Brown as Jackie seemed to 'grow into' the role and got so much better as the film progressed. Geraldine Fitzgerald as Rose was exactly as I had always imagined her and Vincent Gardenia was sinister as J Edgar Hoover (why on earth is the FBI building named after this obnoxious man?). I was less keen on John Shea as Bobby - he seemed too weak somehow. The assassination scenes are horrific - but they were in real life, and it would have been wrong to underplay them. 10/10 from me for this film.
I saw this on the 40th anniversary of the Kennedy assasination and found
very interesting and timely.
As I understand, this movie first came out in 1983, before the publication of the book 'The Dark Side of Camelot' by Hersh. I wonder if it would be different had it come out after this book.
Whenever I read books about the Kennedys and their Washington
contemporaries I sometimes visualize each one as they were portrayed in
this excellent mini series.
The casting was ideal. Martin Sheen, in particular, as JFK ... the voice, the look, the mannerisms ... there were times when the archival footage of the man himself and Sheen the actor almost became one.
The story never ceased to be anything other than utterly compelling.
Strong support from the likes of Vincent Gardenia and E.G Marshall ensured success.
Period detail was occasionally allowed to lapse (for example, cars from a much later period could be clearly seen on the roads in several exterior scenes). But generally quite riveting.
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