Movie Review: Executive Action (1973)

Suppressed groundbreaker on JFK killing __ 8/10
Review by Brian Wright

Executive ActionTV Commentator: In the three years after the murders of John F. Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald eighteen material witnesses died, six by gunfire, three by motor accidents, two by suicide, one by a cut throat, one by a karate chop to the neck, three by heart attacks, two from natural causes. An actuary engaged by the London Sunday Times concluded: On November 22, 1963, the odds of all these witnesses being dead by Feb. 1967 are one hundred thousand trillion to one.

Directed by David Miller
Screenplay by Dalton Trumbo
Story by Donald Freed and Mark Lane

Burt Lancaster … Farrington
Robert Ryan … Foster
Will Geer … Ferguson
Gilbert Green … Paulitz
John Anderson … Halliday
Colby Chester … Tim
Ed Lauter … Operations Chief, Team A

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The only reason I heard about, then decided to Netflix this film, is because someone I know mentioned that Burt Lancaster was in a movie about a government coverup that was highly controversial. She didn’t think too many people were aware of the movie, because the authorities wanted the information bottled up. So I went to the filmography of Lancaster on IMDb and went down the list one by one. Sure enough, the description of Executive Action (1973) fit the bill:

Rogue intelligence agents, right-wing politicians, greedy capitalists, and free-lance assassins plot and carry out the JFK assassination in this speculative agitprop.

Sure enough, the movie is a a documentary-style dramatization of what most independent researchers have concluded is the method by which John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, November 22, 1963, and the plans that were made to enable the killing through a triangulated turkey shoot in Dealey Plaza that day. Having recently read and reviewed Jim Marrs’ book, Crossfire: The plot that killed Kennedy, I was familiar with the broad strategy and the likely conspirators at the very top. And I’ve watched Oliver Stone’s inspiring movie, JFK, several times.

What Executive Action does is fill in the blanks, show what likely occurred from the assassins’ perspective, on the ground… and the politics of the operation. When I say assassins, in this context I mean basically three sets of men: 1) the actual shooting teams and the men who trained them, 2) the operational executive overseeing all facets of the ‘executive action,’ played by Burt Lancaster, and 3) hidden business and political chieftains who led the plot, played by Robert Ryan, Will Geer, and a few others. These men’s actions would have all been initiated by the General ‘Y’ analog in the movie JFK, the CIA’s man in the Pentagon.[1]

Executive Action (EA) is a bold, frontal assault on the ludicrous whitewash and criminal apologia of the Warren Commission (WC). Unlike the WC, EA presents a plausible set of persons and the essentials of the step-by-step systematic process that accomplished the assassination… based on what was then known, not speculated or officially squelched. One great thing about the DVD, which was actually put together in 2007, is its special features: The short film-about-the-film features producer Edward Lewis, screenplay writer Dalton Trumbo, and the well-known actors Lancaster and Ryan claiming the authors (Donald Freed and Mark Lane) convinced them that the WC Report was hogwash and that the best evidence supported this documentary they chose to be part of.

It took a lot of courage, for all the principals, to lay their prestige on the line to confront the official government story. Especially at that time, which was 10 years after the assassination, when the American stage was preoccupied with the End of Nixon and the culmination of the lies that were Vietnam, et al. At that time, the government was under attack from the antiwar people, and the Power was desperate to keep the connection between the war and JFK’s killing suppressed forever. Through the controlled media of the time, the Power threw its considerable weight around to assure Executive Action would see the light of day only briefly. This is from the Wikipedia page:

The film opened to a storm of controversy over the depiction of the assassination: in some places in the U.S., the film ran only one to two weeks in movie theaters or got pulled from them altogether. The movie was part fiction, but it would contest other reports of the assassination, including the controversial Warren Commission report of 1964, which led to attacks against the film. The trailers for the film never ran on certain television stations, including WNBC-TV in New York City. The criticism of the film and its suggestion of a Military-industrial complex conspiracy led to the film being removed totally from the movie theaters by early December 1973 and getting no TV/Video runs until the 1980s and mid-1990s, when it got legal release and distribution for TV and video.

As a film, EA is less a drama than a documentary, sort of a 1973 version of the Crime Channel. Not too much suspense because we all know what happened, but it’s a wonderful description of HOW it happened… at least a reasonable evidence-based facsimile of what really did happen on 11/22/63. Some other attributes are added that may surprise you, as in the character of Foster (Robert Ryan) who pontificates about the reasons peacemakers like JFK must die. This from the Wiki page:

… the film attempts to cast light on the murky paranoid fears of the conspirators about the future of America and the white races. Foster forecasts the population of the third world in 2000 at 7 billion, ‘Most of them yellow, brown or black. All hungry and all determined to love; they’ll swarm out of their breeding grounds into Europe and America.’ He sees Vietnam as an opportunity to control the developing world and reduce its population to 550 million: ‘I’ve seen the data,’ says Foster, adding that they can then apply the same ‘birth-control’ methods to unwanted groups in the US: poor whites, blacks and Latinos.

That’s one rationale, but the best rationale thus far, IMHO,[2] comes from the MOPS and the ‘Parasites of War:’ as revealed so starkly in James Douglass’ masterpiece, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why he died and why it matters. The real reason JFK was killed was because he turned on the war machine… and the money machinery that makes war a profitable business for the 1%. That’s not so much part of this movie, but the movie JFK does bring it home… along with all the other crazies who love the D&D juggernaut for one nutty antihuman reason or another.

A must-see for everyone in the Truth and Freedom movement.


[1] General Y, in turn, would have been given the okay through chain of command coming from the president, the national security establishment, and the very inside cabal of the MOPS (men of the power sickness) financial power.

[2] in my humble opinion

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