The Men Who Killed Kennedy (1988)

TV Mini-Series  |  Documentary, History
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A detailed examination of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, with emphasis on the discrepancies and inconsistencies in the government's official version of events.

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2003   1995   1991   1988  
1 nomination. See more awards »


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Series cast summary:
 Himself - President of the United States of America (archive footage) (9 episodes, 1988-2003)
 Herself - First Lady of the United States of America / ... (archive footage) (8 episodes, 1988-2003)
Hilary Minster ...
 Narrator (6 episodes, 1988-1995)
Jack Ruby ...
 Himself (archive footage) (6 episodes, 1988-2003)
Lee Harvey Oswald ...
 Himself / ... (archive footage) (6 episodes, 1988-2003)
Robert J. Groden ...
 Himself - Assassination Researcher / ... (4 episodes, 1988-1991)
John Connally ...
 Himself (4 episodes, 1988-2003)
Mary Moorman ...
 Herself / ... (4 episodes, 1988-1995)
Gary Mack ...
 Himself / ... (4 episodes, 1988-1991)
Cyril H. Wecht ...
 Himself / ... (4 episodes, 1988-1991)
Jon Strickland ...
 Narrator (3 episodes, 2003)
Beverly Oliver ...
 Herself / ... (3 episodes, 1988-1991)
Jim Leavelle ...
 Himself / ... (3 episodes, 1988-1991)
Paul O'Connor ...
 Himself / ... (3 episodes, 1988-1991)
Paul Peters ...
 Himself - Parkland Hospital (3 episodes, 1988-1991)
Ralph Yarborough ...
 Himself (3 episodes, 1988-1991)
 Himself (archive footage) (3 episodes, 1991-2003)
Larry Harris ...
 Himself / ... (3 episodes, 1991)
Marina Oswald ...
 Herself / ... (2 episodes, 1991-1995)
Harold Weisberg ...
 Himself / ... (2 episodes, 1988-1991)
Charles Brehm ...
 Himself / ... (2 episodes, 1988-1995)
Don Archer ...
 Himself - Dallas Police (2 episodes, 1988-1991)
Bob Carroll ...
 Himself - Dallas Police (2 episodes, 1988-1991)
L.C. Graves ...
 Himself / ... (2 episodes, 1988-1991)
Robert McClelland ...
 Himself - Parkland Hospital (2 episodes, 1988-1991)
L. Fletcher Prouty ...
 Himself (2 episodes, 1988-1991)
Aubrey Rike ...
 Himself / ... (2 episodes, 1988-1991)
Nellie Connally ...
 Herself (2 episodes, 1991-1995)
Jesse E. Curry ...
 Himself - Dallas Police / ... (archive footage) (2 episodes, 1991)
Patrick Dean ...
 Himself / ... (2 episodes, 1991)
Gerald L. Hill ...
 Himself - Dallas Police (2 episodes, 1991)
James P. Hosty ...
 Himself (2 episodes, 1991)
Marguerite Oswald ...
 Herself - Oswald's mother (archive footage) (2 episodes, 1991)
Ruth Paine ...
 Herself / ... (2 episodes, 1991)
Gus Rose ...
 Himself - Dallas Police (2 episodes, 1991)
Mary E. Woodward ...
 Herself / ... (2 episodes, 1991)
 Himself (archive footage) (2 episodes, 1995-2003)
Charles Crenshaw ...
 Himself - Surgeon (2 episodes, 2003)
Billie Sol Estes ...
 Himself (archive footage) (2 episodes, 2003)


A detailed examination of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, with emphasis on the discrepancies and inconsistencies in the government's official version of events.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis





Release Date:

1988 (UK)  »

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Did You Know?


In the United States, the History Channel presented a special program in April 2004 rebutting the episode "The Guilty Men", which contends that Lyndon Johnson was a major force in the assassination. The History Channel also announced that the episode "The Guilty Men" will not be shown again nor released on video. See more »


Features Muchmore Film of Kennedy Assassination (1963) See more »

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User Reviews

Shocking, scary, gripping
29 December 2003 | by (Ireland) – See all my reviews

I watched this as an eleven year old on its original broadcast on ITV back in 1988 and have to say that it absolutely scared me to death. I recently got the chance to see it again and, not only does it beat the pants of all the 40th anniversary documentaries, but it continues to make for absolutely chilling viewing. Forget The Exorcist, The Shining, Psycho or Jaws, The Men Who Killed Kennedy is real life and you come away from it feeling cynical about the world and wondering just who you can trust.

Far from being a good companion piece to Oliver Stone's JFK, as most reviewers claim, this is actually a stand out on its own and a far more historically accurate piece of work. While Stone's film is worth watching it definitely has its own agenda, uses a ton of poetic licence and portrays the corrupt Jim Garrison almost as a martyr to the cause. Garrison does turn up in this documentary but it would appear that producer Nigel Turner doesn't have much time for his much lambasted theories because there is no mention of the likes of Clay Shaw or David Ferrie at all and, if anything, this exclusion adds to the credibility of Turner's work rather than taking away from it. The superb DVD collection contains the original two-episode 1988 programme, three more programmes from 1990 that were cobbled together from the left over footage of the 88' show and an admittedly inferior, though still worthwhile 1995 sequel called The Truth Shall Set You Free. It appears that yet another three episodes, collectively entitled The Final Chapter, made for the US History Channel, have been produced for the 40th anniversary and I've already heard whispers that these are also well worth catching.

The assassination itself, filmed by amateur photographer Abraham Zapruder, has to be one of the most shocking images that the world has ever seen and, despite viewing it several times during the course of this programme, it's one that is impossible to become insensitive to. In eight short seconds it captures the eternal conflict between good and evil as Kennedy transforms from a smiling, dashing, beautiful symbol to a desperate one hanging on for dear life before being blown to oblivion. I doubt that I will ever see a more brutal real life slaying and, happening as it does to arguably the most popular leader that ever lived, makes it all the more tragic. But it is not just the content of this programme, but the way in which it is presented that makes it what it is. An eerie mood pervades throughout owing to a spooky narration, the subtle use of creepy background music and a vast array of stock footage that captures the moment perfectly.

Needless to say this documentary supports the conspiracy view and does so thoroughly. No stone is left unturned, all sorts of theories are examined and anyone with a remote involvement seems to be either mentioned or interviewed. While some of the sections, including the shooting from sewer theory, the attention seeking Beverly Oliver and even the now dated Badge Man theory should be taken with a pinch of salt, it's fair to say that quite a lot of evidence seems beyond question. For instance, can anyone really counter the argument that the autopsy photographs were faked after watching this programme? I doubt it and yet it is notable that documentaries on the lone assassin theory continue to use these photographs as their primary source of evidence. Furthermore the evidence that Oswald's nemesis Jack Ruby was ushered into the basement of the Dallas Police headquarters rather than sneaking in seems almost irrefutable. This is only the tip of the iceberg however. There are so many other unanswered questioned. Why was ink found on the deceased Oswald's hand shortly before his fingerprints suddenly turned up on the Book Depository rifle? Why did the names of 'The Three Tramps', found hiding in a railroad boxcar about to depart beside the Book Depository shortly after the assassination, go unrecorded? How could Oswald possibly have made it from the sixth floor maze of the Book Depository (where he also had to hide his gun) to the kitchen on the bottom floor, where he was witnessed unflustered by a Dallas cop, 90 seconds after the assassination? How did a man on the grassy knoll produce Secret Service identification after a cop had pulled a pistol on him despite the fact that no Secret Service agents were present outside of the cavalcade on that fatal day? Why is there no record of Oswald's twelve-hour interrogation in the Dallas Police headquarters? Even in the unlikely event that you're not convinced by many of the theories then the programme will still almost certainly serve its primary function of planting some seeds of doubt in your mind about the exact nature of the murder of John F. Kennedy.

The unique theory offered up by this programme, specifically by Steve Rivele, is that a three man Corsican hit team carried out the assassination. Only one of the accused assassins (the deceased Lucien Sarti) is mentioned however because one of the others (Sauveur Pironti) threatened to sue Central Television for having an alibi on the day of the murder. Even so the theory seems sound and it would appear that Sarti's involvement, at least, is probable. Rivele turned his back on the matter after the Central fiasco but perhaps he summed it up best when, years later, he commented that attempting to dissect the JFK assassination is a subject that `eats your soul'. Not only were there some very dark forces in Dallas on that fatal day in November 22nd 1963 but since then it has become clear that there are quite a lot of glory hunters and money grabbers, either falsely claiming to be witnesses to events associated with the murder or developing yet more wild theories to be gobbled up by the media. American history's most controversial mystery then seems forevermore destined to make those who seek the real truth end up feeling sick to the pits of their stomachs. So, in summary, this is an excellent programme but it so powerful that I would actually go as far as to warn people who have a positive, happy outlook on life to beware of it because it is the type of thing that might just turn your world upside down.

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