Bill Paxton narrates the documentary “JFK: The Final Hours,” premiering at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8 on National Geographic Channel.
Details, provided by National Geographic Channel, are as follows:
Few events have been more scrutinized than the minutes and hours following the fatal bullets fired by Lee Harvey Oswald on Nov. 22, 1963. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy has been analyzed repeatedly from every angle and every perspective, but this leaves us with no real insight into his humanity. JFK: The Final Hours, narrated by Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Bill Paxton (“2 Guns,” “Edge of Tomorrow,” “Hatfield & McCoys”), takes both in-depth and birds-eye views of the final day of Kennedy’s life through first-hand accounts from people who were among the last to interact with him, oblivious at the time to their truly remarkable brush with history, along with the everyday objects whose connection to the event transformed them into priceless artifacts. The film will also premiere on the National Geographic Channel internationally in 171 countries and 48 languages.
In an interview following the assassination, Jackie Kennedy said “Now, he is a legend when he would have preferred to be a man.” JFK: The Final Hours will recast the fallen president as the man he was by revealing the intimate moments he shared with friends and strangers in his final hours. Paxton was among those who encountered Kennedy shortly before his death as a member of the crowd in the parking lot of Fort Worth’s Hotel Texas where Kennedy gave one of his last public speeches just three hours before his death.
“I was eight years old that day, and I remember thinking it was like seeing a movie star,” says Paxton. “There stood a man at the peak of his life and his career, but little did he or any of us know that in three hours he would be murdered in cold blood.”
Among the others interviewed for the documentary that had a first row seat for history:
• Clint Hill, the Secret Service agent who leapt on to the bumper of the Kennedy’s limo after the fatal shots rang out, recalls the beginnings of an “ordinary” political tour that was transformed into a personal and national nightmare.
• Buell Frazier, who gave his friend Lee Harvey Oswald and his “curtain rods” a ride to work the morning of the assassination will recreate the morning trip to the Texas School Depository in an identical vehicle to the one he drove that day.
• Dr. W.E. Welch, who showed the Kennedys around San Antonio’s Brooks Air Force Base before they made their way to Dallas. Kennedy inquired about some research being done at the facility and its possible application to treat premature infants. Dr. Welch didn’t know at the time that the first family had lost their “preemie” son Patrick just three months before.
• Gary Bakewell, a member of the Texas Boys Choir who sang at the president’s last meal, a breakfast hosted by the Chamber of Commerce at the Texas Hotel. Bakewell would later learn that Kennedy was so moved by the choir he mentioned their performance to Jackie three times after leaving the hotel
• Corkie Friedman, wife of the Fort Worth’s mayor at the time, who was a guest at the Chamber of Commerce breakfast. Friedman will show off a pair of earrings Kennedy complimented that morning, a comment that almost made her faint.
• Tina Towner, a 13-year-old girl who joined her father on the corner of Houston and Elm to watch the presidential motorcade. She was entrusted with the family¹s 8mm camera to take footage of the limo as it rounded the 120 degree turn. Once the limo passed, she turned the camera off just before three shots rang out.
To help in bringing this last day to life, the creative team behind JFK: The Final Hours has also restored an extraordinary color film, shot by a professional White House film crew that documented the Kennedy’s movements during that day all the way to Dealey Plaza. By stripping off the original, now unusable audio, and converting the footage to high definition, this restored film is a haunting, immersive experience, taking viewers where they have never gone before.
“We’ve gone to incredible lengths to build a kind of time machine, to take people back to the fall of 1963, and the last day of John Kennedy’s life. This “core sample” of small details illuminate the man behind the legend.” said Erik Nelson, the film’s writer and director. “This journey also reminds us of what we lost that day - both a President, and a kind of innocence.”
It’s not just the people and images that tell this story: the assassination turned everyday objects from ordinary to extraordinary:
• A regular white Lincoln, which Kennedy rode in while in Fort Worth, becomes the last car he got out of alive.
• A 5-ton SX 100 limousine in midnight blue becomes known as “the death car,” a place where history was made in the back seat.
• Kennedy’s now-restored Air Force One plane, becomes a modified hearse in the sky, carrying Kennedy’s corpse not in the cargo hold but in the main cabin.
• A simple wedding band that was removed by Lee Harvey Oswald the morning of Nov. 22, breaking the strict Russian marriage tradition.
JFK: The Final Hours will air two days before National Geographic Channel’s Sunday, November 10 world premiere television event Killing Kennedy. Produced by Scott Free Productions and based on the best-selling book by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, the film stars Rob Lowe (John F. Kennedy), Will Rothhaar (Lee Harvey Oswald), with Michelle Trachtenberg (Marina Oswald) and Ginnifer Goodwin (Jacqueline Kennedy), and charts the highs and lows of two men, and two relationships, that would eventually intersect with not one but two shocking deaths that stunned a nation. Both film premieres are timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination.
JFK: The Final Hours is written and directed by Erik Nelson, produced by Robert Erickson and executive produced by Dave Harding for Creative Differences. Original music is composed and performed by Richard Thompson. For National Geographic Channels, Kathleen Cromley is the executive producer and Charlie Parsons is the VP of development and production.
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