WEIRDLAND: Into the Nightmare: My Search for the Killers of President John F. Kennedy and Officer J. D. Tippit

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Into the Nightmare: My Search for the Killers of President John F. Kennedy and Officer J. D. Tippit

Happy 102nd Anniversary, John F. Kennedy! JFK: “I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source, where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials. It was Virginia’s harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped lead to Jefferson’s statute of religious freedom. I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end where all men and all churches are treated as equal where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.”

“That is the kind of America in which I believe. And it represents the kind of Presidency in which I believe a great office that must neither be humbled by making it the instrument of any one religious group nor tarnished by arbitrarily withholding its occupancy from the members of any one religious group. I believe in a President whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the Nation or imposed by the Nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.”

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” Source:

Gene Tierney dated John F Kennedy in the late '40s. Emotions have always showed better in B+W than color. It is the way most people's brains are wired. The color distracts from the emotion (or more precisely, the brain processes more of the texture and brightness differences of the photograph in B+W). You see it very strongly in still photography. Look at the same picture in good B+W versus good Color and the B+W will almost always provide a stronger emotional feel to it.

Joseph McBride, a professor at San Francisco State University’s School of Cinema, wrote the Frank Capra biography The Catastrophe of Success (2011). McBride is also the author of Into the Nightmare: My Search for the Killers of President John F. Kennedy and Officer J. D. Tippit (2013).  Journalist and historian Joseph McBride, a volunteer in JFK's 1960 Wisconsin presidential primary campaign, began studying the assassination minutes after it happened. In 1982, McBride launched his own investigation. Both epic and intimately personal, Into the Nightmare: My Search for the Killers of President John F. Kennedy and Officer J. D. Tippit incorporates rare interviews with key people in Dallas, archival discoveries, and what novelist Thomas Flanagan, in The New York Review of Books, called McBride's "wide knowledge of American social history." McBride chronicles his evolving skepticism about the official story and shines a fresh, often surprising spotlight on Kennedy's murder and on one of the murkiest, most crucial aspects of the case, its "Rosetta Stone," the Tippit killing. 

McBride: I think we’ve declined a lot in American films since what we call the Golden Age. I think the 1920s might be the best period in American film, but I’ve also written about filmmakers of the 1930s and ’40s — Howard Hawks, John Ford, Ernst Lubitsch and others. Things started going haywire in the 1960s, when the big Hollywood studios were breaking up. It was really a factory system. Although the old studios had their flaws, it was easier in some ways to make a good film in those days. Today, it’s more difficult to get a good film financed and made through the system. Today, with the blockbuster mentality, film has been dumbed down. There are fewer films about people. That’s what I’m interested in, dramas and comedies about people instead of explosions and superheroes. All the trailers today look like the same movie — a $200M superhero spectacle.

McBride: Frank Capra’s films are complicated ideologically. Capra was confused; he was always a Republican but during the Depression era he was something of a social critic, and he worked with a lot of left-wing writers, which got him trouble during the blacklist period in the late 1940s and the ’50s. He was angry with America because after the war he was accused of being disloyal to America. After he had worked with the government during the war making propaganda films, they then denied his security clearance. During the Red Scare, he blamed his writers and sort of blacklisted himself. He moved to Fallbrook and lived on a ranch. He was consumed by self-loathing and doubt. Capra went into a tailspin. He was never the same after the blacklist. It shattered him.

-Capra, an Italian-American immigrant, did so much to craft the positive and enduring mythology that 20th-century Americans embraced about themselves — with films such as “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Did the immigrant experience influence his filmmaking?

-McBride: That’s a big part of my story and it was a key thing to his experience. He was a man who embraced America, and waved the flag fervently, but was also aware of the flaws in the system, which made his films complex and interesting. Being an immigrant was part of his drive, and he felt compelled to prove himself worthy as an American. (Film professor and author) Jonathan J. Cavallero wrote that Capra’s films are disguised immigrant stories because they’re often about a person who comes from the country to the big city and is confronted with corruption; there’s a conflict between naïve goodness and harsh reality, which makes his films fascinating. Capra's heroes were not Italian, they were WASPs like Gary Cooper and Jimmy Stewart. He was a self-made man and looked down on his own family and fellow Italians. There were many contradictions in Capra, who was a truly tragic figure, a Dostoevskian figure. 

-Are there parallels between the difficulties you encountered with the Capra book and the JFK assassination, which you’ve also written about?

-McBride: It’s a very destructive thing for a country to live a lie. With the JFK assassination: most of the country doesn’t believe the Warren Report. The official lie is really damaging to the people’s trust in government and the media. The public—give them credit because they’re smarter than some people think. Source:

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