A&E // 2009 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // January 28th, 2010
An unfamiliar story born out of one of the most crucial days in American history.
There's little that can be said about the assassination of the man who was unquestionably one of the greatest political figures in American, if not world history. The tragic events of November 22, 1963, resulted in possibly the only time in American history when the country was without a president for an extended period. Kennedy was not particularly popular in Texas, which was the primary reason for his visit to Dallas, but little did JFK or his advisers know that the decision to reach out to the people of Texas would result in such a tragic outcome.
Based on a 2009 book of the same name by Steven Gillon, The Kennedy Assassination: 24 Hours After picks up the story just before the assassination and wastes no time getting into a blow by blow account of the fine details of the assassination and the events that followed. Gillon and other experts relate some of the details, amid re-enacted quotes from secret service agents and other eyewitnesses. As much as 24 Hours After is about the assassination itself, it also takes a close look at the political implications the event had for vice president Lyndon Johnson. Johnson had entered his role as vice president with great expectations which were quickly extinguished as Kennedy, realizing Johnson's political savvy and influence, kept a short leash on his vice president for fear of losing control of his administration. As the tragedy and aftermath of Kennedy's fatal wounding and death were unfolding, political machinations were also underway as Johnson became aware that the way was now clear for him to take the role he had coveted for many years.
One of the most interesting revelations of the feature is the deep hatred and distrust Lyndon Johnson and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover held for Senator Robert Kennedy and how Robert acted quickly to seal documents to keep them from Johnson as soon as he learned his brother was dead. Another interesting fact is how awkwardly the transfer of power occurred and how seemingly brash and disrespectful Johnson's actions were so soon after the assassination. Johnson even went so far as to lie and state that Robert Kennedy had told him to wait to be sworn in before Air Force One could leave the ground with JFK's casket on board; needless to say, Robert Kennedy was infuriated by the deception. Despite the tragic circumstances of his appointment to president, Johnson would go on to complete JFK's term and be elected by a significant majority to a term of his own.
Unlike JFK: 3 Shots That Changed America, another History Channel documentary released around the same time, this feature takes a more straightforward documentary approach to the subject matter. Similar to other historical documentaries, this production brings together archival footage, reenactments and on-screen comments by experts. Much of the archival content included in 24 Hours After is grainy and the majority is in black and white. A suitably dramatic soundtrack supports the visuals and other content and all the contemporary interviews and content are delivered with crisp audio and video. There are no extra features of any kind, but given the nature of the content and subject matter, this is not a particularly bad thing.
The Kennedy Assassination: 24 Hours After takes a powerful and detailed look at the events that occurred within the 24 hours that immediately followed John F. Kennedy's assassination.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated