The Oswald Films: An Outline by Martin Shackelford
The Oswald Films:An Outline by Martin Shackelford (July 1993) [updated 4-25-96] Pre-Assassination. Speculative Films There may exist presently unknown footage of several types which show Lee Harvey Oswald. One possible type is home movie footage, taken either by members of the Oswald family, or by relatives, or by people who knew Lee Oswald (schoolmates and their families, Civil Air Patrol cadets, etc.). A second possible type is home movie footage taken when Oswald was abroad, by tourists on the 2 ships, in Europe or in the Soviet Union or Mexico, or by people who knew him in the Soviet Union (there may be families in possession of such footage who have no idea Oswald is even in it; the Monica Kramer photos of Oswald in the Soviet Union turned up only after an intensive search of tourist photos taken during the relevant time period). A third possible type is footage shot covertly by or for the KGB, the CIA or other intelligence organizations.1. 1. The Home Movie (11-22-62) In one of the many ironic twists in this case, the first known motion picture footage of Lee Harvey Oswald was taken one year to the day before the Kennedy Assassination. It was a home movie taken by his brother Robert Oswald's wife Vada when the family gathered that year to celebrate Thanksgiving. Two color frames published in the October 17, 1967 LOOK Magazine excerpt from Robert's book show a smiling Lee Oswald seated on a couch near his half-brother John Pic and Pic's wife, with Marina standing near Lee, and Robert playing with his sons on the floor in the foreground. The two frames are also available from The Collector's Archives (Box 2, Beaconsfield, Quebec H9W 5T6). On November 26, 1990, the film was shown on "Hard Copy," a tabloid television show featuring an interview with Robert Oswald, under the title "Oswald's Home Movie." This may also be available on video from The Collector's Archives. 2. The New Orleans films Oswald's activities in New Orleans attracted the attention of both tourists and a professional cameraman. 2a. The Jack Martin Film (8-9-63) In another of those aforementioned ironic twists, a tourist named Jack Martin was in Dallas in August 1963. His film records his view from the airplane. Next, he visits General Edwin Walker, under whom he had served, allegedly target of an assassination attempt by Lee Oswald in April of that year. The film documents the scene of that attempt: the window through which the shot was fired, the bullet hole, and the wall from behind which it was most likely fired, ending with shots of Walker's flag and mailbox, and a nearby building under construction (allegedly also photographed by Oswald prior to the attempt!) . Then we see the entrance to a movie theater, cypress trees, a seal at the edge of a pool, and the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park in New Orleans. Aroused by a commotion on Canal Street, Martin crossed to see what was happening, and began filming. We see Lee Oswald, leaflets in hand, standing on the sidewalk, being harangued by anti-Castro militants including Carlos Bringuier. Four police officers are seen arriving. The film ends with a view of the yellow leaflets scattered on the sidewalk after Bringuier knocked them out of Oswald's hands, and a brief aerial view of a subdivision. Parts of the film have only been used, to my knowledge, on the French television documentary, "Le Mystere Kennedy." The documentary is available on video, and frames from the film as well, from The Collector's Archives. A still from this film was finally published in Robert Groden's 1995 book, The Search for Lee Harvey Oswald, an essential photo archive on Oswald. 2b. The James Doyle Film (8-9-63) James Doyle was a 16 year old teenager, visiting New Orleans with his family in early August 1963. His film begins in Lafayette Park, New Orleans, and includes a view of the Andrew Jackson statue. He, too, then noticed a commotion along Canal Street, crossed over to investigate, and began filming. Lee Oswald, back to the camera, is talking with Carlos Bringuier, when a police officer arrives, pushes Bringuier aside, and talks with Oswald, who gestures. Oswald is then seen through the crowd, under arrest, obscured, moving to the left, and we see him and the officer at curbside. The film ends with harbor views. To my knowledge, this film has only appeared in one television program, the British "Dispatches: The Day the Dream Died," available (as are frames) from The Collector's Archives or from All That Video (405 Hopkins Court, North Wales PA 19434, phone (213) 361-1365.) A still from this film was also first published in the 1995 Groden book. 2c. The Johann Rush Films (8-12 & 16-63) Johann Rush was a news cameraman for WDSU-TV in New Orleans in the August of 1963. He was on hand on August 12 when Lee Oswald appeared at the New Orleans courthouse for sentencing after his August 9 arrest. Rush filmed Oswald's approach, then Oswald posed for the camera in a courthouse corridor. The footage also includes Carlos Bringuier and the Cubans. Rush next filmed Oswald's leafleting at the International Trade Mart on August 16. This is the footage which shows Oswald and two colleagues (one of them Charles Steele Jr.) distributing leaflets, a figure in the background alleged to be Clay Shaw, and two foreground figures alleged to be Charles Rogers and Chauncey Holt. I won't attempt to catalog the sources in which bits of this footage appears, although the videotape "The Two Kennedys" (MPI Home Video, 1-800-323-0442, may still carry this title, or try The Collector's Archives) is a good source, and stills from the footage appear in many places. 2d. The WWL-TV Film (8-16-63) The most famous still, however, is from a brief bit of footage also taken during the August 16 leafleting, but by a rival cameraman for WWL-TV named Mike O'Connor, and shows Oswald thrusting a leaflet toward a passerby. Captioned "Garner Deposition Exhibit 1," it appears in the Warren Report, and the footage is used in various documentaries. 2e. The Mike Lala Film (8-21-63) The final bit of New Orleans footage was taken by cameraman Mike Lala during an interview of Oswald at WDSU-TV on August 21. It shows Oswald in left profile as he speaks. In the semi-fictional film "Executive Action"(1973, National General Pictures, Warner Home Video),, the footage is used as a training film for an Oswald impostor. As with the other New Orleans TV footage, it is widely excerpted. The Collector's Archives offers two frames from the film. Post-Assassination 3. The Ron Reiland Film (11-22-63) WFAA-TV cameraman Ron Reiland was filming at the site of the Tippit shooting when police were called to the Texas Theater, and Reiland went with them. As a result, he got the only footage of Oswald's arrest. One dimly lit scene shows Oswald being held by police inside the Texas Theater (underexposed, this appears only on "The Kennedy Tapes," which contains the complete Reiland footage, and on "Films From the Sixth Floor" videotape, which includes the films from the Dallas Book Depository exhibits). He then photographed Oswald being led out, placed into a police car, and driven away. 4. The Arrival Film (11-22-63) An NBC cameraman filmed Oswald when he arrived at Dallas Police headquarters, and was led into the Homicide Division offices, past witness and co-worker Billy Lovelady. 5. The "Press Conference" Films (11-22-63) Various footage exists from the late-night showing of Oswald to the press, and this is some of the best-known footage of Oswald in custody. After the video ends on one film, the audio track continues with Oswald's voice for a short time longer. 6. The Hallway Films (11-22 to 24-63) Soon, the Dallas Police Department hallways were swarming with reporters and cameramen. There is footage of Oswald being led from room to room at Police Headquarters taken by ABC,, NBC, CBS, local stations, and foreign cameramen. This includes the footage of Oswald's various denials: "I didn't shoot anybody, no sir." "I don't know what you people have been told, but I emphatically deny these charges." his statement that this was all happening "because I lived in the Soviet Union," etc. A great many of these films are included in the series "The Men Who Killed Kennedy" (Time-Life Video). There is also Hearst newsreel footage of Oswald in the hallway. 7. The Shooting Films (11-24-63) ABC footage shows Oswald being led off the jail elevator, and through the jail office area. Another piece of footage shows Oswald from behind as he moves out toward newsmen in the jail basement. Then a number of cameras (including the three networks and Hearst newsreel) captured him from the front as he is led out, and Jack Ruby lunges forward and shoots him. He is then out of the scene briefly. Most of this footage is also widely available. 8. The Post-Shooting Films (11-24-63) When the ambulance arrives, Oswald is brought out on a stretcher, and loaded into it. We see Oswald inside as the ambulance drives away. We next see footage of the ambulance arriving at Parkland Hospital with Oswald, Oswald being pulled out on the stretcher, and rushed into the hospital. This is the last known footage of Oswald alive, as well as the last publicly available. It is widely available. 9. The Exhumation Autopsy Videotape (10-4-81) Lee Oswald's body was exhumed on October 4, 1981 at the request of British author Michael Eddowes, with the cooperation of Marina Oswald and over the objections of Robert Oswald. A partial autopsy was performed at Baylor Pathology Laboratories, and the procedure was videotaped. Following a lengthy dispute about possession of the videotape, it is my understanding that Marina Oswald regained possession of it. There are no plans to make it available to researchers, but it may enter the record at some point in the future. Some Commercial Video Sources of Oswald Footage "Executive Action" (Warner) Fictional film includes a variety of New Orleans and Dallas Oswald footage. "The Two Kennedys" (MPI) Includes much of the WDSU footage taken in New Orleans, as well as some of the Dallas footage. "John F. Kennedy" (CBS) This has appeared under various titles, and includes Oswald Dallas footage. "The Plot to Kill JFK: Rush to Judgment"(MPI) includes some Dallas footage of Oswald. "Four Days in November" (MGM/UA) This 1964 Wolper documentary includes a variety of the Dallas Oswald footage. "The Men Who Killed Kennedy" (Time-Life) Parts 1, 4 and 5 of this 5-volume set include much of the professional Oswald footage, except for the Johann Rush footage. "Films from the Sixth Floor," Available from the exhibit in the Book Depository, includes much good Oswald footage in the segment "Crisis Hours," including the rare footage of Oswald still inside the Texas Theater. "Man Against Humanity"(Front Row) This low-budget video includes most of the New Orleans WDSU footage, as well as some Dallas footage. "Declassified: The Plot to Kill President Kennedy" an edited version of the Anthony Summers documentary, also includes a variety of Oswald footage from New Orleans and Dallas. "Texas News: John F. Kennedy" (Independent Historical Films) includes Oswald Dallas footage. "The JFK Assassination: The Jim Garrison Tapes" (Vestron) includes a variety of New Orleans and Dallas Oswald footage. "Who Killed JFK? Facts, not Fiction"(CBS) includes a variety of New Orleans and Dallas footage. "Beyond "JFK": The Question of Conspiracy"(Warner) includes much of the New Orleans footage. "The Assassination of JFK"(MPI) also includes much of the New Orleans, and some Dallas footage.