Credits run in counterpoint through a 7 to 10 minute sequence
of documentary images setting the tone of John F. Kennedy's
Presidency and the atmosphere of those tense times, 1960
through 1963. An omniscient narrator's voice marches us
through in old time Pathe' newsreel fashion.
January, 1961 - President Dwight D.
Eisenhower's Farewell Address to the
The conjunction of an immense military
establishment and a large arms
industry is new in the American
experience. The total influence -
economic, political, even spiritual -
is felt in every city, every
statehouse, every office of the
Federal Government... In the councils
of government we must guard against
the acquisition of unwarranted
influence, whether sought or unsought,
by the military industrial complex.
The potential for the disastrous
rise of misplaced power exists and
will persist... We must never let
the weight of this combination
endanger our liberties or democratic
processes. We should take nothing
School kids reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. WPA films of
farmers harvesting the Texas plains. Rain, thunderheads, a
dusty car coming from far away on a road moving towards
Dallas. Cowboys round up the cattle. Young marrieds in a
church. Hillsides of tract homes going up. The American
breadbasket, the West. Over this we hear Eisenhower's
address. As we move into the election campaign of 1960, we
see the TV debates, Nixon vs. Kennedy, Mayor Daley, Kennedy
Against this is juxtaposed other forces: segregation, J.
Edgar Hoover, military advisors, Castro, Marilyn Monroe,
Lumumba... three frames of the Zapruder film counter-cut...
ending with the Kennedy inauguration and the irony of Earl
Warren administering the oath as he will Kennedy's eulogy.
November, 1960 - Senator John F.
Kennedy of Massachusetts wins one of
the narrowest election victories in
American history over the Vice-
President Richard Nixon by a little
more than 100,000 votes. Rumors
abound that he stole the election in
Illinois through the Democratic
political machine of Mayor Daley...
At his inauguration, at a time when
American males all wore hats, he let
his hair blow free in the wind.
Alongside his beautiful and elegant
wife of French origin, Jacqueline
Bouvier, J.F.K. is the symbol of the
new freedom of the 1960's, signifying
change and upheaval to the American
public, scaring many and hated
passionately by some. To win the
election and to appease their fears,
Kennedy at first takes a tough Cold