Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Burt Lancaster in Executive Action (1973)

Obscurity factor: 8

Before there was JFK (Oliver Stone, 1991) there was this film. A shadowy group of conservative business men meet to discuss the problem of Kennedy's liberal agenda and the likelihood of a three president dynasty between the Kennedy brothers and the changes that would effect on the USA. Analyzing the risks to their interests, they decide to take action, enlisting what one assumes are CIA contractors to do the job.

This film, directed by David Miller has a fascinating history. It was written, in part by Dalton Trumbo, who was one of the most visible faces of the Hollywood black list brought on by conservative senator Joseph McCarthy's House Un American Activities Committee. Trumbo and his writing partners Donald Freed and Mark Lane create a fictional account of a possible conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy at a time when the distrust of the government was reaching a fevered pitch. Consequently the film's limited release was cut short in many places and, like The Manchurian Candidate, another film that cut too close to the bone, the film was shelved for many years. Unlike the above mentioned film, however, it doesn't have the compelling drama or the cathartic ending so when it came out from under wraps it didn't gain as much fame. It's still a tight thriller, though, with a plausible plot line, if you favor conspiracy theories. Also giving wonderful performances in the film are Robert Ryan, in his last performance and Will Geer.

Since this film reemerged it's been released on DVD. It's also available on YouTube in full. The first installment of it is above, uploaded by dwayne0t.

Obscurity factor: 8 (largely unknown, on DVD and YouTube)

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