Autopsy of ‘Parkland,’ the JFK movie that was DOA

Last month, in an empty movie theater in Washington, DC, I saw “Parkland,” the Tom Hanks-Peter Landesmann film about the assassination of President Kennedy. I was so underwhelmed I didn’t know what to say.

The fact that the movie tanked at the box office and puzzled critics indicated its presentation of JFK’s murder as a fairly ordinary homicide in Texas had no resonance, even with elite media organizations imbued with a cultural affinity for the lone gunman theory. So I decided I would write something after the 50th anniversary and I never got around to it.

Then a British pundit, Dr. James Boys, wrote this review, which pretty much said everything I was going to say, and said it better.

For those interested in a deeper post-mortem of this misbegotten movie, I can recommend Jim DiEugenio’s book-length dissection, “Reclaiming Parkland.”

‘A near total failure’

While Boys’ whole review is worth reading. I will quote only the ending.

“The movie fits into a very strange and increasingly conservative interpretation of the assassination and indeed, Kennedy’s life and legacy. 25 years ago, in 1988, it was not only permissible, but encouraged to look for complexity and contradictions in the official verdict and several programs aired that claimed to name second gunmen.”

“While these efforts clearly went too far and were revealed to be flawed, they did at least seek to present a series of dilemmas that are at the heart of the assassination to the wider public. This is no longer the case. 2013 has revealed a near total failure to challenge the Warren Commission and indeed, has served merely to reinforce some of the more bizarre and far-fetched findings of that troubled report. It is indeed a strange world when a president can be killed in suspicious circumstances and it is those who are asking the difficult questions that are portrayed as being nut cases…”

via Parkland and the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination | Dr. James D. Boys.


JFK at the movies

“The cinema of assassination inspired by JFK” (May 2, 2013)

“The escapist impulse of ‘Letters to Jackie,” (June 20, 2013)

“Which David Mamet will direct his JFK film?”  (May 18, 2103)

“The Bystander Theory’ offers an indie take on JFK” (Sept. 14, 2103)


  1. Gerry Simone says:

    I saw both Killing Kennedy and Parkland, and Parkland is way better in that it is more neutral. I was expecting worse from the low box office traffic and unfavourable reviews, but it did succeed to convey the emotion, trauma and uncertainty at the time. At least Oswald is shown saying “Don’t believe the so-called evidence brother”. On the other hand, they don’t show any of the Parkland doctors and nurses commenting on the wound to the back of Kennedy’s head.

    I still would recommend that people see Parkland, but it doesn’t attempt to address the conspiracy question.

  2. John Middleton says:

    Isn’t it at all possible that the so-called “conservative interpretation” of the assassination (i.e., that LHO was the sole shooter) does not reflect apathy or the abandonment of the search for “complexity and contradictions” in that conclusion, but rather the fact that over the past 20 years that search has only cemented the original underlying conclusion of the original investigation, notwithstanding how concededly flawed that investigation might have been?

    • Alex S says:


    • Photon says:

      That conclusion is too rational for most conspiracy folks to accept. Never let facts get in the way of a good story, particularly extremely complex stories involving hundreds of participants, corrupt physicians, corrupt politicians, physically impossible gunshots,government agencies, a President and virtually anybody but the real assassin-who as an avowed Marxist could not possibly kill a liberal politician in a city with right wing tendencies. Obviously a right wing extremist had to be the assassin- and if that is the assumption that you start out with it is amazing what convoluted reasoning that you are willing to accept, even after 50 years of facts that have demonstrated absolutely no evidence that anybody but L.H. Oswald shot JFK. Nothing.

      • TLR says:

        You can go on and on in your usual way, Photon, or you could educate yourself about the new evidence that has emerged in the last couple of decades. It’s your choice.

        • Photon says:

          Name one piece of physical evidence that ties anybody to the assassination other than Oswald.
          Name one piece of physical evidence that ties Oswald to the assassination that has been proven false. Not speculated to be false, not theoretically false but strong irrefutable evidence.
          You have had 50 years. Nothing that has come out in the last 10, 20 or 30 years has proven the Warren Commission findings false or even weakened them.

      • JSA says:

        What are you blubbering about, Photon? I would hardly put LBJ in the “right wing” category, although he clearly played to the sympathies of Brown & Root and Big Oil, and befriended the Southern Caucus in the Senate. I think he was part of the conspiracy, and yet he helped pass the Civil Rights Bill. For the record, I claim a Democrat did in one of his own team, with help from CIA, who last time I checked, weren’t “for” or “against” either political party. They are professional bureaucrats. They just want their bureaucracy to survive. Don’t lump me in with your simplistic equation.

    • Neil says:

      Whether the story is fiction or based on true events there needs to be a grain of truth and believability in drama. After watching ‘Killing Kennedy’ and ‘Parkland’ I’ve come to the conclusion that the Warren Report’s version of the JFK assassination looks even less believable on screen…

  3. S.R. "Dusty" Rohde says:

    I would offer a different perspective. News travels quickly in JFK Assassination circles. A movie suggested to promote the WC autopsy conclusions is not going to be a big sell (unpopular). This topic was addressed recently and the WC autopsy conclusion challenged (by myself). Others posted a links to the “experts” who examined autopsy photos and so on and so forth. But why didn’t the experts, the Movie or people who support the WC dogma point out these obvious facts? Some images used by the WC experts in their examination were “Post-autopsy) photos. This is indicated by the rubber sewn onto JFK’s neck. This was done by morticians “after” the supposed autopsy. These are the images the “experts” used to identify the back of head bullet wound. As stated, these images were taken after mortcians did their repair work. The images can not possibly be representative of “Pre-autopsy” wounds as the evidence had been contaminated. Any decent lawyer would have the images and conclusions tossed out as evidence. The Ida Dox drawing is also “Post-autopsy” as it was copied from these images. The Dox drawing is a false representation of both, pre and post autopsy conditions. While the Dox drawing was a copy of post-autopsy conditions, significant details were omitted and others added.
    Had the movie matched known evidence discovered since the JFK assassination it would have been a blockbuster hit. Still could be. It isn’t interest in the Parkland story that is dead in the water, it’s any WC conclusions. Tell the truth, all of it…and watch the movie seats fill up.
    Warren Commission experts base their conclusions of wounds on post-autopsy images … and they call CTer’s nuts?

  4. Juniper says:

    Parkland flopped, and yet Oliver Stone’s film reportedly played to packed houses in its limited re-release for the 50th.

  5. Neil says:

    I just hope the poor showing at the Box Office for ‘Parkland’ doesn’t prevent future JFK assassination related films from being produced. There are more interesting stories to tell cinematically…

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