Monday, April 02, 2012

JFK: Cinema Kills

Films have a strange way to foreshadow events. Or at least, the human mind thinks this may be so. No one knows how or why, but the visual component of having a permanent record of a fictional incident collides across time and space, infrequently, with the reality of an unforgettable disaster, tragedy, or assassination.

Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey) in the sniper's nest.

In the case of the death of John F. Kennedy, chroniclers, researchers, and theorists have often pointed to the intriguing timing and plot of one specific motion picture, The Manchurian Candidate. The 1962 film directed by John Frankenheimer, stars Frank Sinatra (a close friend of JFK), Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh and Angela Lansbury. The central plot of the film is that the son of a prominent, right-wing political family has been brainwashed to be an unwitting assassin for an international Communist conspiracy. 

The Manchurian Candidate was nationally released on Wednesday, October 24, 1962, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. It thus appeared thirteen months before JFK was killed in Dallas on November 22, 1963. 

There is a bit of the name game in the film. The actor Laurence Harvey played the assassin, which was "played" in the 1963 Dallas event by Lee Harvey Oswald. (Two names also used by Lee Harvey Oswald, allegedly, were O. H. Lee and Alek J. Hidell.) 

In another name game in The Manchurian Candidate, director Frankenheimer acknowledged the climax's connection with Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934 and 1956) by naming the Presidential candidate "Benjamin Arthur." Arthur Benjamin was the composer of the cantata "Storm Clouds" used in both versions of Hitchcock's film.

But have other films been overlooked?

One assassination researcher, Bruce Campbell Adamson, points out two other movies that need to be examined more closely than they have been in the past. Adamson writes that one is a Howard Hughes film, His Kind of Woman, that has a "story plot, which sounds like Oswald being set up in Mexico 'as a patsy.'"

His Kind of Woman is a black-and-white 1951 film noir starring Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell. The film features supporting roles by Vincent Price, Raymond Burr, and Charles McGraw. The movie was directed officially by John Farrow and based on the unpublished story Star Sapphie by Gerald Drayson. (John Farrow, a filmmaker who was introduced to the craft by Robert Flaherty of Nanook of the North fame, went on in 1938, to marry Maureen O'Sullivan ~ who played Jane in several Tarzan films, including in Farrow's 1936 Tarzan Escapes. Farrow and O'Sullivan had seven children together, including Mia Farrow of Rosemary's Baby infamy.)

Post-production on His Kind of Woman was rife with problems and Howard Hughes was dissatisfied with John Farrow's work, and a number of scenes were cut, added, and re-shot by the uncredited Richard Fleischer. Hughes also organized a screenwriting team which extensively rewrote the film and added many pages to the first script. Despite the turmoil surrounding the film's production, the film was commercially successful and has developed a cult following, despite its lack of widespread distribution in the decades since its release.

The plot focuses on the down-on-his-luck, professional gambler Dan Milner (Robert Mitchum) who accepts a mysterious job for $50,000. He is told to take a charter flight to Morro's Lodge, an isolated Mexican resort, where he will receive further instructions. Milner is attracted to the only other passenger, Lenore Brent (Jane Russell).

When he arrives, Milner finds that several guests at the luxurious Baja California resort have hidden agendas. He is disappointed to find that Lenore is the girlfriend of famous movie actor Mark Cardigan (Vincent Price). Milner overhears two guests, self-proclaimed author Martin Krafft (John Mylong) and a man named Thompson (Charles McGraw), planning something which he suspects involves him. When Milner confronts them, he is given $10,000 and told that someone is on his way to Baja to see him.

Seemingly drunk Bill Lusk (Tim Holt) flies in, despite warnings of very dangerous storm conditions. Milner thinks he must be the contact, but when the two are alone, Lusk claims to be an undercover agent for the Immigration and Naturalization Service. He tells Milner that the U.S. government suspects that underworld boss Nick Ferraro (Raymond Burr), deported to Italy four years earlier, is scheming to get back into the country posing as Milner. The two men are a close physical match and Milner is a loner, so no one is likely to miss him. Krafft turns out to be a plastic surgeon.

Meanwhile, Cardigan's wife Helen (Marjorie Reynolds) and his personal manager Gerald Hobson (Carleton G. Young) show up. She had gone to Reno to get a divorce, not really intending to go through with it, as she is still fond of her husband. Hobson also thinks it is a poor idea because Cardigan's film contract is expiring and the bad publicity would make it hard to get a new one. With her own plans ruined, Lenore confesses to Milner that she is really just a singer looking to hook a wealthy spouse. Milner shows his softer side when he helps unhappy newlywed Jennie Stone (Leslie Banning) by cheating at poker to win back her husband's gambling losses from investment broker Myron Winton (Jim Backus).

Lusk sneaks into Thompson's room, but is caught and killed. Milner and Lenore stumble upon his body dumped on the beach. Milner is convinced that the dead man must have been telling the truth. That night, Thompson and his men take Milner to a newly arrived yacht. Milner is able to pass along a veiled plea for help to Lenore. She persuades Cardigan, who is tired of just pretending to be a hero, to help out. While the actor keeps the pursuing mobsters pinned down with his hunting rifle, Milner sneaks back onto the boat, knowing that the only way out of his mess is to deal with Ferraro once and for all. He is caught and brought to the crime lord. After killing two of the thugs and wounding and capturing Thompson, Cardigan mounts a rescue with the reluctant assistance of the Mexican police and a couple of the more adventurous guests. A gunfight breaks out aboard the boat, followed by a melee. Milner manages to break free and shoot Ferraro dead.

The film has weird twists and turns that remind many of David Ferrie's involvement in the JFK conspiracy theories and his alleged links to Lee Harvey Oswald.  The House Select Committee on Assassinations stated that "An unconfirmed Border Patrol report of February 1962 alleges that Ferrie was the pilot who flew Carlos Marcello back into the United States from Guatemala after he had been deported in April 1961 as part of the U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy's crackdown on organized crime."

Another Robert Mitchum film has a very real link to the chain of personalities involved with the JFK assassination: The Wrath of God.

The Wrath of God is an offbeat Western genre film released in 1972. It starred Robert Mitchum (as Father Oliver Van Horne), Frank Langella (as Tomas de la Plata), Rita Hayworth (as Senora de la Plata), Ken Hutchison (as Emmet Keogh), Paula Pritchett (as Native woman), and Victor Buono (as Jennings) and was directed by Ralph Nelson.

(1) Paula Pritchett with director Ralph Nelson on location in Mexico.
(2) Pritchett sharing a laugh with (l to r) Rita Hayworth, Robert Mitchum, and Ken Hutchinson.
(3) Pritchett plays Chela, a mute indian girl who is about to raped by a gang of soldiers. However, she is saved by Hutchinson and Mitchum.

Irish adventurer Emmett Keogh finds himself partnered with a hard-drinking priest named Van Horne in 1922 revolutionary Central America. Tricked into delivering guns by smuggler/con man Jennings, the three end up joining forces against despot Tomas de la Plata, who treats his subjects ruthlessly and who has a special hatred for priests. Van Horne, who seems to be a priest in costume only, decides to stand up to de la Plata and lead a revolt against him. 

The film marks the final screen appearance by Rita Hayworth, whose health worsened as Alzheimer's disease took hold.

Adamson noted, "In 1972, Robert Mitchum was in a film with George de Mohrenschildt's daughter Alexandria in The Wrath of God. Mitchum was great in this film and Alexandra was an extra. Looking as good as Paula Pritchett, if not better." 

Alexandra de Mohrenschildt

"G. H. W. Bush and de Mohrenschildt were all friends of Howard Hughes," wrote Adamson. "De Mohrenschildt claimed to be friends with Howard Hughes since 1938. Hughes was also from Houston and a Texas oilman and tied to George H.W. Bush."

Tom Slick's name was in George de Mohrenschildt's address book, the same one that interested the Warren Commission so much, which also contained "George Poppy Bush."

Alexandra's father, George de Mohrenschildt (April 17, 1911 – March 29, 1977) was a petroleum geologist and professor who befriended Lee Harvey Oswald in the summer of 1962 and maintained that friendship until Oswald's death two days after the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. He had personal acquaintance with the Bush family, including George H. W. Bush, with whose nephew, Edward G. Hooker, he had been roommates at Phillips Academy at Andover, Massachusetts. He also had personal acquaintance with the Bouvier family, including Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, the president's wife, when she was still a child. His testimony before the Warren Commission investigating the assassination was one of the longest of any witness.

Dresser Industries was a multinational corporation headquartered in Dallas, Texas, United States, which provided a wide range of technology, products, and services used for developing energy and natural resources. In 1928 the Wall Street investment-banking firm of W. A. Harriman and Company, Inc., converted the firm into a public company by issuing 300,000 shares of stock. H. Neil Mallon was selected as president and chief executive officer; holding that position until his retirement in 1962.

George H. W. Bush got his start in the Texas oil business through his father's friend Henry Neil Mallon, the president of Dresser Industries. Mallon offered George his first job at Dresser subsidiary International Derrick and Equipment Company (Ideco), in Odessa, Texas. Brown Brothers Harriman had underwritten Dresser’s transition from a private company to a publicly traded one. Years later, George named a son after Mallon (Neil Mallon Bush).

In 1953, Bush got money from Brown Brothers Harriman and, with partners Hugh and Bill Liedtke, formed Zapata Petroleum. By the late 1950s they were millionaires. Bush bought subsidiary Zapata Off-Shore from his partners and went into business on his own in 1954. By 1958, the new company was drilling on the Cay Sal Bank in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. These islands had been leased to Nixon supporter and CIA contractor Howard Hughes the previous year and were later used as a base for CIA raids on Cuba. Tom Slick and Howard Hughes became such close friends that they had adjoining cottages at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Slick was Director on the Board for Dresser, until his death on October 6, 1962.

In 1998, Halliburton merged with Dresser Industries, which included Kellogg. Prescott Bush and Tom Slick were directors of Dresser Industries, which is now part of Halliburton.


Django said...

Sinatra was in another presidential assassination movie, Suddenly (1954).

Anonymous said...

Hollywood vs the Aliens by Bruce Rux (who is a little suspicious himself) chronicles these sort of disifo shenanigans in the alien arena. Wouldn't be much of a leap into the parapolitical realm.

Anonymous said...

But yknow it could be 'coincidence'. After the massacre in Norway I went to see Captain America that starts with a reference to Norway and gunfire. Also someone at The Daily Grail reported how the likeness of the killer Breivik appeared in a video game after the incident. This actually happened to me too soon after a boss of mine died. A video game I had been playing introduced a new charter with the likeness and name of my boss! I don't know if this is a synchronicity strictly speaking but maybe through a strange form of cause and effect these things happen. said...

I watched the 1954 Frank Sinatra film 'Suddenly' on Netflix recently...

"To kill the United States president, ex-soldier-turned-assassin John Baron (Frank Sinatra) and two cohorts invade a house in the town of Suddenly, Calif. As he prepares to make his risky move during the president's scheduled visit, Baron harasses the house's residents. Featuring strong performances, this tense thriller also stars Nancy Gates as widowed pacifist Ellen and Sterling Hayden as local law enforcer Sheriff Shaw."

Flying Tiger said...

The same media which is intended to be a control system for the common population is a rich source of ideas for intelligence operatives, many of whom moonlight as novelists, screenwriters and technical advisors.

cf Lone Gunmen pilot episode...