A new look at the JFK assassination


September 27, 1991|By Steve McKerrow

Even from the distance of almost 30 years, it is still shocking to review the events that took place Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas. Especially hard to watch is the grainy footage of a bullet hitting President John F. Kennedy in the skull, snapping his head back against the limousine seat and sending a pink spray into the air.

We see that moment multiple times -- and be warned it is sometimes in close-up slow motion -- during the premiere segment tonight of a five-part cable series, "The Men Who Killed Kennedy," at 9 o'clock on Arts & Entertainment.

And despite the fact that JFK's death has posed "one of the greatest murder mysteries of all time," as host Bill Kurtis puts it, the question still remains: Where did that bullet come from?

This British-produced series suggests, along with other

investigators of the past and in sharp contrast to the official Warren Commission report, that Lee Harvey Oswald was not the one who fired the fatal shot.

Indeed, Part One ends tantalizingly tonight with the assertion that a figure on the famous "grassy knoll" area at Dealey Plaza, seen in a shadowy blowup of an onlooker's Polaroid photograph, was the gunman and that organized crime was behind the assassination.

Based on some 300 interviews conducted over five years by filmmaker Nigel Turner, the series captivates. And still there are more questions than answers, including who allegedly switched the coffin in which JFK was placed for the flight to Washington from Dallas and who allegedly doctored autopsy photos to show an entry wound consistent with the official findings.

When Parts 1and 2 aired in England, according to A&E, the show earned some of the highest ratings ever for a documentary.

From the repeated replays of the celebrated "Zapruder" film shot by an amateur photographer, most viewers will find it hard to accept the official conclusion that a bullet from behind killed Kennedy. The crucial moment seems to clearly show a frontal impact, a view which numerous interview subjects support in the series, including the Dallas doctors who treated the president and an official who assisted at his autopsy.

Viewers, however, may find the most fascinating part of tonight's premiere to be a fairly lengthy replay of an apparent press conference which Oswald conducted after his arrest.

We hear Oswald saying he has not been told why he was arrested and that he has not shot anybody. When told by reporters that he is chief suspect in Kennedy's killing, he reacts with dismay and is hustled away from the cameras.

"The Men Who Killed Kennedy" is the first offering in the new A&E series "Investigative Reports." Succeeding reports in the JFK show air the next four Fridays at 8 p.m.

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