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It's about Ruby (and nothing else)
manuel-pestalozzi8 August 2007
I did not expect much of this movie, but as a (none too serious) collector of Americana I was pleasantly surprised. The movie Ruby reminded me most of – and which might have inspired the script – is John Cassavete's Killing of a Chinese Bookie – which, in turn, might have been inspired by the life and times of the real Ruby. The biopic Hoffa, scripted by David Mamet, also comes to mind.

The one problem this movie seems to have is that it sits uncomfortably between mainstream cinema and art-house material. This becomes most apparent in the bombastic, completely unsuitable musical score which wants to make some kind of Godfather out of Ruby. But for the rest, this movie is well worth some time of the viewers attention.

It opens with a frontal shot of Ruby's face. He starts talking: „You're sitting somewhere in a motel room, alone and miserable, and the telephone starts ringing". This introduction of a strip act in his club pretty accurately describes Ruby's circumstances. He is a kind of a displaced person who does not seem to belong anywhere, waiting for a call. His activities seem pretty incoherent, his grasp of what is happening around him uncertain. He is proud to be a member of the show business industry, where dreams come true.

Had this movie been less mainstream, I imagine that many scenes concerning the events before the assassination of the President would have had a more dreamlike atmosphere. I would like to believe that a lot of what is going on in the movie is going on uniquely in Ruby's head, the head of a lonely man who is about to loose his sanity and strives to gain a certain presence, a certain stature. The script accommodates such a viewpoint which probably comes closest to Ruby's motives for shooting the man who shot the President.

The acting is mostly very good. Danny Aiello's and Sherilyn Fenn's performances were brilliant, the good chemistry between them makes the relationship between Ruby and his „dream woman" special and heartwarming. It also defines Ruby as someone who cares, probably another motive for his action. I am a big fan of Marc Lawrence who is absolutely terrific as the head mobster. He does not speak more than four or five sentences and yet his presence is awesome. The assassination of the President is reenacted with subtlety and tact – much better than in Stone's JFK. I found the casual way in which the real locations in Dallas were introduced absolutely stunning. The editing between TV stock material and specially filmed details is masterful.
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Nothing For Nothing
wlfgdn3 April 2012
Whatever his role may or may not have been in the Kennedy assassination, Jack Ruby was not a good or nice man. Trying to make anything positive out of him is imbecilic to start with and the premises for this picture don't improve any on that. Danny Aiello playing Ruby as a kind person is out of touch.

There were in 1963 more than 200 million Americans so tell me what the odds are that three people who know each other closely and work together could all independently have some role in the assassination? Jack Ruby's bartender just happens to be the gunman who fires the fatal shot from the book depository window? Come on now.

Anything of intelligence is hard to find in this story and there is as much evidence to support the theory that Rootie Kazootie was the gunman as there is evidence or believability for the first concept here.

So far as film-making goes we can only grade C+. Never really makes you much take notice and when they get to what should be the climax they just rush through it with even less thought or effort.

At worst this epistle is an insult to history. The liner notes on the inexpensive VHS I found state "forces us to reconsider the 'truth' of Kennedy's death." Well, horsepoop to that, but I will reconsider wasting time on any film by John MacKenzie. If the same mysterious shadowy people held a gun to his head and forced him to film a bad script, well then let him come forward before someone has to make another bad movie so we can find that out too.
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Possibly the worst film I've ever seen
unclealan9 August 2002
Lets start this review on a good note: Sherilyn Fenn is a stunner in this film. She's absolutely gorgeous. Her acting, of course, is terrible given the poor script she had to work with (Candy Cane? What about Sticky Sweet?). However, her strip-tease scenes alone almost make it worth sitting through this 111 minutes of celluloid dung.

That being said, I'll repeat my summary, that this is possibly the worst film I've ever seen. I'm a big fan of mob movies. I'm also a student of the Kennedy assassination, so when films address this topic, or attempt to reference the event, I like it when they at least TRY to address the facts. JFK made a brave attempt at this, even though it made Garrison look like the saint of all good causes (he wasn't), and accused everyone but the Pope of being involved in the plot.

Ruby is just a bad movie, pure and simple. What made Ruby so bad wasn't the actors per se, but the terrible writing, which was non-stop speculation and fantasy, and the direction, which seemed non existent. Aiello, like Fenn, did the best with what he had, but his performance was laughable. He had to portray Ruby as a mobster with a heart, and if I had heard any more exasperated cries of "Candy Cane!" from him, I was going to puke. All the stereotypical mob elements, and actors, are in this film. Even Joe Viterelli, who like Frank Vincent seems to be in every mob movie, makes an appearance here as Joe Valachi.

Yes, Ruby was a hood from Chicago, and he shot Oswald, and he associated with elements of the mafia, and he was chummy with the Dallas cops, and he went to Cuba on occasion. At least the film got this right, but that's where it ends. Ruby killed a mobster with a .38 hidden inside a movie camera? Ruby was in the same hotel in Las Vegas with a red-haired David Ferrie when Kennedy was getting laid? That's news to me. That same night, The Sun (The Sands), featured Tony Montana (Frank Sinatra), while Santos Alicante (Santos Trafficante) and the boys hosted Appalachia II right out in the public eye. Sure. Besides trying to avoid a lawsuit with all the reworked names (they did properly refer to a Sam Giancana though), the film muddles through bad plot lines with this kind of tie-it-all-together nonsense.

And what was with the mysterious Maxwell character played by Arliss Howard? "I know everything Jack. Here Jack, here's a rifle. Go kill Castro. And by the way, who's the girl?" Absurd.

Don't waste your time seeing this film, unless you are a Sherilyn Fenn fanatic. Fast forward, play the first strip scene, fast forward, play the last strip scene, eject, then toss it in the garbage, where it belongs.
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Since The Federal Government Classifies It As Entertainment, So Does He!
dataconflossmoor5 June 2011
Jack Ruby was an individual that epitomized the plight of someone who became perpetually victimized by his environment. Growing up in a tough and tumble south side neighborhood in Chicago, Jack Ruby had to earn everything the hard way! His testosterone driven theatrics were always justified under the belligerent premise that he loathed and excoriated all caitiff behavior and mannerisms which lurked in his threatened existence! Actor, Danny Aiello, was extremely well suited to the role of Jack Ruby. Desultarily assembled and jagged around the edges, Aiello portrayed the role of the disgruntled owner of the Dallas strip club lounge, Jack Ruby, with an absolutely powerful and well articulated perfection. The mindset of Jack Ruby was one in which he had an emblematic adoration of John F. Kennedy. Ruby was keenly aware of the fact that the assassination of Kennedy was a conspiracy! Knowing this, Ruby's conception of the entire fiasco was one whereby he felt that it was incumbent upon him to implement a simple eye for an eye endeavor of vigilante justice. This being Ruby's objective, Lee Harvey Oswald became his prime target! Love, lust, collusion, money, violence, and organized crime were elements in Ruby's life that ended up becoming a lethally inconclusive and ephemeral obsession with him! Nothing ever made sense in Jack Ruby's world, and, as a result, his adversarial circumstances made him respond accordingly! The intensity with which this film depicts Ruby's rudimentary defense mechanisms, wound up being incredibly thought provoking. Jack Ruby's life became one big tenet for convoluted sensationalism; Killing John F Kennedy and killing Lee Harvey Oswald, were actions which were induced by the prevailing agitation which emanated from the megalomania cal underworld! All in all, the intertwining integral facets of implication in this aggregate potpourri of political tumultuousness for all of this violence, eventually collaborated as a scenario for situational pandemonium. This politically high profile charade brought about a pejorative pique for a bevy of fame famished reprobates to thrive on. Throughout history, this has always been the nefarious scourge; Who was John Wilkes Booth? Who was Lee Harvey Oswald? Who was Sirhan Sirhan? And, of course, it goes without saying; Who was Jack Ruby? What made them famous? The heinous ordeal of murdering, or being related to the murder of a highly prominent political leader, has given all of these men an indelibly dreadful notoriety! The film "Ruby" authenticates the prevailing rancor during the Kennedy assassination escapades in a very scathing, yet poignant manner! The aspects to the Dallas strip club paradigm during the early 1960's was something which the directors and producers of this film executed flawlessly! Films which are candidly cogent about genuinely dire reactions tend to garner my favor far more readily than a high budget Hollywood bombshell flick with a myriad of special effects. The film "Ruby" is a one of a kind diamond in the rough which manifests an unpleasant amelioration concerning the vicious circle of assassinations during the Kennedy era. This movie did not just simply depict the occurrences pertaining to John F. Kennedy's and Lee Harvey Oswald's assassination, they also encompassed the visceral and motivational depravity behind these occurrences as well! Ultimately, cerebral vindication amongst many felonious misfits, as well as people who dealt with these sordid walks of life, became the intellectually diabolical villain which vitiated any respect which these people should have had for law and order in our American system of democracy! Having been to Dallas many times, the historical correlation this film makes to this city is very fascinating! The strip club which Jack Ruby owned is located in one of the nicest hotels in downtown Dallas! As a matter of fact, what was once Jack Ruby's strip club, is now a sports bar, that is somewhat amusing, isn't it? The assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the demented wiles associated with it, all have the dubious distinction of putting Dallas on the map for political terrorism! This movie is covertly compelling, and, I would recommend to any history buff, as well as all movie viewers, that they should see this film whenever they possibly can. "Ruby" is a difficult movie to find, and, it may only be available on video cassette, as in the thing you put in a -VCR- -YES, THAT ANTEQUATED MONSTER!!- Nevertheless, people should try to get a hold of it and view the movie, mostly on account of the fact that the film "Ruby" is very insightful and emotionally innovative! I give it a definite and resounding thumbs up!
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rhoughton6 January 2001
A fascinating subject, that just didn't grab the audience. It flowed like molasses, and left me feeling as flat as the movie. I'm one of those who can't get enough of this subject, but there was very little here at all, and with the current trend to change the true stories, just to make them look better, you begin to wonder just how much, and which parts, are really true.
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Jack Ruby: The man who shot the man who shot Kennedy.
sol121817 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** Highly fictionalized account of the life and times, circa 1962-63, of nightclub owner and mobster Jack "Sparky" Ruby the assassin of accused, but never convicted in a court of law, JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. Ruby is made out to be both an FBI informer and well as low level member of the mob in the film in him leading a double life as a both good an bad guy. Were given to understand that Ruby was somehow involved in the attempted assassination of Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro that backfired and put him on the outs with his mob bosses. There's also a totally made up event where Ruby travels to Cuba to get mob boss Santo Alicante out of the country where he's told by his mob controller Louie Vitali to whack him. Ruby feeling he's being set up to be knocked off later by the mob ends up whacking Viteli instead.

Jack Ruby is also given a love interest in the film in sexy blond runaway Sheryl Ann Dujean aka Candy Cane whom he takes under his wing, after running away from her abusive husband Hank, and make her the star attraction of his Dallas strip joint the Carousel Club. The big event in the movie is of course the afternoon of Novemberb 22 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinate in Dallas Texas. Were given the impression that Jack Ruby was somehow involved in the gunning down of JFK by knowing the plans to have him assassinated in advance. We even see Ruby moments before JFK's assassination focusing his attention on the picket fence at the infamous gassy noel where JFK's actual assassin was believed to be hiding at. That instead, as the shots was fired, of looking towards the Texas School Book Depository Building where the fatal shots that killed JFK supposedly, according to the Warren Commission, came from.

As for the highlight in Jack Ruby's career the gunning down of a handcuffed and helpless Lee Harvey Oswald it's made to look like he was somehow hypnotized drugged or threatened to do it. The film already showed us that Ruby was certain that Oswald wasn't JFK's assassin yet like a mind controlled zombie he walks nonchalantly into the parking garage where Oswald was to be transfered to the Dallas Detention Center and without as much as a second thought in his head blows him away! All that in front of not only dozens of police and newsmen but some 150 million viewers watching the entire shocking spectacle on live TV!

Ruby of course took whatever he had to do with both the JFK assassination and cold blooded murder of Lee Harvey Oswald to his gave three years later dying of cancer that's suspected by many the CIA injected him with. In fact Ruby was, this is real life not just in the film, willing to tell the American public everything he knew about both killings and who ,in the case of the JFK assassination, was behind them but was never given the chance by the Warren Commission. Whom very obviously, in it's cover up like actions, didn't want the truth behind these tragic events to ever see the light of day!
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Coxer9929 June 1999
Disappointing film about Jack Ruby, the man who gunned down Lee Harvey Oswald with Aiello giving his all for the title character, but even his talents cannot save the tedious script.
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The Best Ruby Story!
whpratt129 September 2004
When I first watched the real Jack Ruby kill Oswald on the TV screen, we all felt like Jack was a hero and this picture came very close in telling the actual truth about what really went on in the White House, in Cuba, and all the so called HOODS involved. Danny Aiello,(Jack Ruby),"Mambo Cafe",2000, was the perfect choice to play the way Jack Ruby really looked and acted, I am sure Danny Aiello did a great deal of homework studying Ruby's characteristics. Sherilyn Fenn,(Candy Cane),"Lonelife",'97, put a big sparkle into the film with her sexy figure, she looked just like M. Monroe! Veteran actor Marc Lawrence,(Santos Alicante) who has performed in 178 films playing mostly gangsters and real bad guys gave a great supporting role. In my estimation, this is a great film about JACK RUBY!
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Spoilers would be difficult!
Derek McMillan15 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
An exploration of Ruby's motivation. Anyone who was not interested in this question would not bother to watch in the first place. I do not know if the film has "the right answer" but it is an answer which fits the facts.

It is well acted and well photographed and "period". The incredible tameness of the striptease act in Ruby's club for example is presumably what it was like in those days, "swinging sixties" or no.

As I say it would be tough to have a spoiler for this film because we already know the finale. It is tough to understand how he managed to shoot someone who one would have expected a half-way competent police department to keep a bit of an eye on, and the film has a go at explaining that.
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He Shot Oswald
AaronCapenBanner10 December 2013
John Mackenzie directed this speculative drama that stars Danny Aiello as Jack Ruby, the man who fatally shot Lee Harvey Oswald, and the events that led him there, where he was the owner of a Dallas strip club who hires popular headliner Candy Cane(played by Sherilyn Fenn) who ends up under the wing of the mafia, and becomes a mistress of President Kennedy. Ruby does favors for the mafia while simultaneously informing on them for the FBI, and eventually is used by a mysterious hit man for either the CIA or Mafia to kill Oswald, though he suspects he's as much a patsy as Oswald seems to be. David Duchovny co-stars as police officer Tibbet. Despite a good performance by Aiello, film is a pale knockoff of the far superior "JFK". Not bad, but entirely forgettable.
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Poorly Scripted & Overlong But Nicely Made
Matthew Kresal13 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The JFK assassination might well be the biggest enigma in modern American history. Exactly what happened in Dealy Plaza on November 22, 1963 and why has been the subject of much speculation and interest. So it's no surprise then that filmmakers have taken a few cracks at exploring it, especially in the wake of Oliver Stone's 1991 film JFK. It was very shortly after JFK's release that John Mackenzie's Ruby hit cinema screens which was unfortunate as the film came to be overlooked. That wasn't a terrible thing though as watching the film reveals.

I first saw Ruby around 2003 or so when the A&E channel here would run a film with commercials on TV around seven in the morning. Watching Ruby again on DVD now I realize how much was cut out of the film for that airing of it, around twenty minutes or so, and how that wasn't a bad thing. At ninety minutes or so the film moved along at a good pace but at its full running time it's far too long and complicated for its own good.

Which is something that can be blamed on thing more than anything else: the script by Stephen Davis. Davis tries to use Ruby, himself something of an enigmatic figure, to tie together various strands of its own theory about the JFK assassination. The film takes the viewer from Dallas to Cuba, New Orleans, Las Vegas, and back to Dallas in the space of a little under two hours and often stretching believability to its limits along the way. A perfect example is an early sequence taking Ruby to Castro's Cuba which actually doesn't add much of anything to the overall film except add an additional character who does little and add more running time to the film. Other times it feels like Davis is just trying to show off his research such as adding Dallas police officer Tippit (played by a pre X-Files David Duchovny), allegedly killed by Oswald after the assassination, who is introduced early in the film and then never reappears. In the end, Davis' script tries to explain and condense so much that it becomes a muddled mess.

That isn't the only problem with the script. The dialogue throughout is pretty atrocious, full of little more than clichés and exposition. That extends to the characters as well as virtually everyone in the film feels like a walking, talking cardboard cliché from Ruby (portrayed as a mobster with a heart of gold) to Candy Cane (the seemingly innocent girl who receives an education in how the world work) as well as various mobsters and government figures along the way. There's also some vast and quite obvious fictionalizations of people and events (such as Candy Cane who takes on elements of several different women to the point of being utterly unbelievable) that, along with the dialogue and characterizations, end up undermining the attempts at credibility that other elements of the film try so hard to obtain. It's a script that might be a passable for a TV movie but for a Hollywood feature film is sorely lacking.

Why is a shame because there's good to be found in the film. The period recreations are quite good and do a solid job of invoking the early 1960s, especially in Las Vegas and Dallas from sets to costumes. If nothing else, the film is worth seeing for what looks to have been some expensive period recreations and for having actually shot scenes in Dallas as well. Overall, the film is stylishly made with not just wonderful production values but also some solid cinematography from Phil Méheux and direction from John Mackenzie. The only sour note production wise is the score from John Scott which never quite seems to mesh with the film outside of its use of source music, feeling like it was meant for another film entirely. On the whole though, on a purely production level, it's well made.

Which brings us to the cast. The two leads, Danny Aiello and Sherilyn Fenn as Ruby and Candy Cane respectively, both turn in solid performances given the material they have to work from. Fenn in particular comes across quite well, turning in a solid performance while also looking stunning in period clothing. The supporting cast tries to do their best with sometimes awkward material that they end up often being wasted such as Marc Lawrence's mob boss and Arliss Howard as mysterious CIA agent Maxwell. It's a shame really because the cast could have done so much more one feels like.

Indeed that sentiment sums up the entire film. Ruby tries to tell an interesting and compelling story, telling it with excellent period recreations and what should be a good cast. Instead it tells an overlong and muddled tale full of bad dialogue. Despite some of its finer points, Ruby ends up being a fairly forgettable film on an interesting subject that fails to say much of anything.
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Political history aside...... Found this to be an entertaining movie.
AussieTastic16 May 2014
I think the trouble with making a movie, like this, that has ties with actual events, leads critics to over analyze the factuality's of the movie and lose sight of the purpose of the movie....... To Entertain.

This is "Not a Documentary".

I came to this movie from a perspective of having no idea who Jack Ruby was, as I have no interest in American political history, so I treated this as just a movie. Although, I do like gangster type movies eg. "The Untouchables" and found this to be in a similar police/criminals vein.

Knowing Sherilyn Fenn and having a good regard for Danny Aiello's acting style, I thought this would be a good movie and I wasn't disappointed. Danny brings a strong, stable almost calming effect to this movie, while Sherilyn brings a simple cuteness and innocence, yet with a driving ambition and I think they work well together. The thing I didn't really like was the CIA character, just a bit far fetched for me.

Was it ever destined to win an Academy Award?... hmmm... not likely, but I found it to be a good, solid, entertaining movie and worth the dollar I spent on the DVD at the discount shop. Anyone who gives this less than three stars is in for a rude shock because there are a lot worse movies than this out there.
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Why did Ruby do it - things the government didn't tell you
mw156221 November 2011
The reason why Jack Ruby Killed Lee Harvey Oswald was had he not done so he would have been killed himself. Sam Giancana had put Ruby in charge of the JFK assassination, and part of the plan was for Officer Tippett to kill Oswald as he was trying to escape. That didn't happen, for reasons unknown, so Ruby had to finish the job himself.

The real question is how was Jack Ruby able to walk right up to the most heavily guarded man in America, guarded as he was by Secret Service, FBI, CIA, Texas State Troopers, and Dallas Police, and shoot him at point blank range. That alone should tell you that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone.

The government would tell you that Ruby acted alone, for reasons of grief and rage, etc, but they don't want you to know the truth. They don't think we could handle the truth. They don't want us to know that JFK and his father made a deal with Sam Giancana to get elected and, once elected, the Kennedys reneged on their end of the deal.

By the way, did you know that Lee Harvey Oswald was raised by his uncle in New Orleans, who was a bookie, and did you know that in 1963 all bookmakers worked for the mob? Why would the New Orleans District Attorney (Garrison) get involved in a crime that took place in Dallas? It is all related.

Did you know that several weeks after the JFK assassination the Texas State Attorney General held a press conference and announced that Oswald worked for the CIA? Did you know that Oswald attended Naval Intelligence School, and shortly thereafter he went to Russia, officially as a US dissenter, but more likely as a spy?
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A messy disappointment
Rodrigo Amaro26 July 2011
When Oliver Stone decided to make his controversial "JFK" he knew his film would be debated since he was presenting countless challenges on facts concerning the assassination of President Kennedy. What Oliver couldn't predict was the appearance of films that followed his conspiracy theories on the same subject, although none of these films, including "Ruby", caused impact on anything. More than that, none of these films had the same material quality "JFK" had, a film with so much to handle in terms of characters and situations that never gets boring or complicated.

Now, John Mackenzie's "Ruby" is a wildly confusing film focused on Jack Ruby, the mysterious nightclub owner who murdered Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who (some say) shot Kennedy in Dallas, in 1963. Ruby, played with some good effort by Danny Aiello, is presented as someone similar like Oswald, a ingenuous patsy who joined the wrong people (the Mafia) for one cause and for reasons unknown was betrayed by his so-called friends who opted for killing the president. The movie gets even deeper by showing that Ruby was some sort of a informant for the government pretending to be part of the Mafia, meeting guys like Gambini and other powerful mobsters, who were plotting to kill Fidel Castro but for some reason they changed planes and decided to take Kennedy out of the picture. To make things worst, the movie chooses to include a fictional character, the stripper Candy Cane (Sherilyn Fenn) who works for Ruby, and in terms of script she's a composition between Marilyn Monroe, Ruby's girlfriend and a woman who had affairs with mobsters and even Kennedy. We hardly know who is she in the picture and how important she is besides being the wildest thing on Jack's club. What about the mysterious Maxwell (played by Arliss Howard, very good here)? Who was that guy? Part of CIA? Mafia? He always bothers Ruby but never reveals himself except the original planning about dealing with Castro. The connections between characters and situations might have worked in real life but in the film it fails at horrible levels, to the point of unbelievable.

Compared with "JFK" this film is easy to follow but it never achieves greatness; it doesn't shine a light to new facts on Kennedy's and Oswald's murders; it can only confuses with more and more things. Structurally speaking, the whole film is a mess, slow at the beginning and very rushed towards the ending and that combination ruined the suspense and made a boring drama who had some good moments. The lamest of contradictions presented was the fact of Ruby being a patriotic man, who deals with the Mafia, a bad job for his country and at the same time cries out loud when he finally realizes his own people will kill the President. It's okay to do illegal things, not pay taxes and the government but you can't kill this nation's leader.

It's quite watchable but when you analyzes the material the director had in the hands you know he could have done better than this. 5/10
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It was a good movie......
wishkah716 June 2000
Danny Aiello's performance as the lowlife nightclub owner and murderer of supposed assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby was sometimes serious, and oftentimes comical. This flick is almost like a seriocomic biography of Jack Ruby. Heck, some of the characters in this movie didn't even exist (i.e. Candy Cane).

The best character in this was Maxwell played by Arliss Howard. The scenes and dailogue were both funny and seriously violent that if you would or someone you know would want to rent this movie, you couldn't help but chuckle, or maybe you would take it seriously. All in all, it's still a good movie about the J.F.K. Assassination and the life and times of Jack Ruby.

Don't rent this if you're in the mood for a really serious drama. What I liked about it was that it was comical, a drama, good, bad, and ridiculous in it's own way. And I've always liked movies that are like this one. But don't take my word for it. See it for yourself. :)
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