This sweeping mini-series profiling the Kennedy family ran three nights. The film chronicles 55 years in the lives of the family opening in 1906 with the marriage of Joseph P. Kennedy, a ...
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They were more than Washington wives. They were part of an American dream known as Camelot. With strength and cunning they upheld their public image by concealing their private truths. ... See full summary »
This sweeping mini-series profiling the Kennedy family ran three nights. The film chronicles 55 years in the lives of the family opening in 1906 with the marriage of Joseph P. Kennedy, a Harvard graduate, to Rose Fitzgerald, the daughter of Boston's Mayor. The first night focuses on the marriage's troubled years and Rose's strength in developing a real family. The second night covered the years of 1928 - 1940 and Jospeh's years as working as a movie producer and then an ambassador. The final night follows the Kennedy's tragedies during World War II and follows the post war years political successes of John Kennedy.Written by
John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
Reportedly, for the film rights to her book "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga" (1987), source author Doris Kearns Goodwin received a US $500,000 advance with a production start guarantee of an additional US $250,000 upon the commencement of principal photography. See more »
"American royalty" may not be technically correct, but such a qualifier is not wholly inappropriate when it invokes not only the notoriety but also the fascination and scrutiny to which every aspect of the lives of Joe and Rose Kennedy and their descendants have been subject. The passions they arouse are also very telling: evaluations of the Kennedys tend to fall somewhere on the scale between glorifications of a latter-day Camelot, and cynical exasperation with a band of hypocritical, womanizing, calculating "Massachusetts liberals." For all their very deep flaws, however, the Kennedy's Darwinian and cultural success does command very deep respect: there must be SOME virtuous sensibilities down there.
"The Kennedys of Massachusetts" portrays this integral picture quite well, incorporating the various strains and experiences that made Joe and Rose and their family into who they were. Central to the story is their Roman Catholic identity, to which they were both fervently attached and which they determined (and managed) to pass to their children. But the tension between Catholicism as expressed through Rose's more purely ultramontanist social, psychological and cultural mindset - which she transmitted to none of her children (Eunice a possible, partial exception) - and the ambitions of Joe to rise in WASP society. The film does not condemn Rose's staunch, sometimes brittle approach to her faith nor castigate Joe for his shirking of its finer points or of his numerous betrayals of the matrimonial covenant, but simply lays out the facts for what they are.
All the way, the grace and glamor of Old vs. New World is undeniable. The major points in the marriage of Joe and Rose and the evolution of their children are chronicled very cohesively and convincingly. William Petersen and Annette O'Toole play their roles very well and have good chemistry; nevertheless, the scenes between O'Toole and Charles Durning (as John "Honey" Fitzgerald) steal the show, and his cynical recapping of Rose's religious and intellectual path early on turns out to a harbinger for the whole Kennedy political project. We are left at once admiring of the great accomplishments of Joe and the earnest if naïve and not wholly adroit quest for beauty on the part of Rose, if perhaps regretful that he could not have listened to her earlier: "You're a very successful and wealthy man at a young age; isn't that enough?" and spared his family so much of the agony that came as the price of their admission into Anglo-Protestant high society. (An uncharitable cynic might add, spare the U.S. of an incompetent president and an alcoholic road-unworthy senator. I'll let my readers judge for themselves.)
All the same, one ends the mini-series wanting to do something, wanting to beatify one's life. If entertainment can so inspire, perhaps it is not so indispensable as we sometimes suppose.
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