Back and to the left

The assassination of JFK did not start conspiracy theory discourse but it certainly seems to be the biggest log in the fire.

Julius Caesar’s death was a conspiracy, as was the killing of Abraham Lincoln. John Kennedy had no “Et tu Brutus?” moment. They blew his mind out in a car.

In the years after the assassination of President John Kennedy on November 22, 1963, there was not the dearth of information that now exists.

The Zapruder film was only seen in public for the first time in 1969 at the Clay Shaw trial. There were occasional television clips seen after that regulated to late night syndication. The first actual network broadcast of the Zapruder film was on ABC (Good Night America) in March 1975 albeit also late at night. Incidentally the host was Geraldo Rivera.

There’s no Zapruder film in Rush to Judgement. Mark Lane’s book of the same name was a best seller in  1966. The book was the first critique of any kind to the findings of the Warren Commission. Lane narrates the subsequent titular documentary, a film filled with talking head interviews of eye-witnesses to the event.

Many of the people Lane interviews are forgotten by time. They have not been immortalized by popular culture in films like Oliver Stone’s JFK, or books like Jim Marrs’ “Crossfire” or David Lifton’s “Best Evidence.”

Some of them have made the transition though. Like Lee Bowers.

Bowers was working in a railway station tower that had a bird’s eye reverse view of the Grassy Knoll including activity behind the picket fence. A coda to the film mentions Bowers died in an automobile accident after he was filmed but before Rush to Judgment was released in 1967.

Lane appears in the film in reverse shots, sometimes holding a pipe. Lane inhales at one point. That’s such a 1960s dad thing; smoking a pipe. Men wore hats, not caps, in the Kennedy era. Hats and pipes seemed to disappear after JFK’s death.

Rush to Judgment is a stationary film. The camera never moves, except for archival clips, and everyone is shot in the same medium close-up shot. Nobody would make a documentary like this nowadays.

Yet what is being said fascinates and astounds to such a degree you can’t move your eyes.

Expect footage of Lee Harvey Oswald being arrested and statements he makes on the way to jail. There’s also footage of the Warren Commission: Warren; Russell, Jr.; Dulles; Cooper; Boggs; McCloy; and Ford.

Lane delves into the Tippett murder in a way that’s been ignored by most mainstream media. Here we get eye witness accounts from people who were never interviewed by the Warren Commission.

Phrases that have entered the JFK conspiracy lexicon like “Maggie’s drawers” and “Back and to the left,” are heard at various times from the talking head subjects.

According to Lane who backs up the claim with a televised statement, Charles Brehm was standing about 30-feet away and in a archival news interview states the skull blew “left and back.”

If you were watching Rush to Judgment in the year it was released there would be a sense you were privy to information that wasn’t being talked about on the then three network news channels. 

Talking heads include James Tague who was struck by a piece of concrete that was blown off the curb by a stray bullet. Lane tracked down practically everyone standing on the overpass bridge or along the sidewalk in front of the Grassy Knoll.

Employees who worked for Jack Ruby, a female manager, and a piano player, give credence to a shady atmosphere that permeated his nightclub. 

Lane sweeps up  by offering accounts from a handful of eye-witnesses to Tippet’s shooting. 

One character that stands out is small town newspaper editor Penn Jones, Jr. who himself was compiling evidence and interviews since November 1963. Yet another person seeking the truth who’s been forgotten by history.

Mark Lane’s Rush to Judgement has been digitally remastered for theatrical release. Directed by Emile de Antonio, one of the most politically charged filmmakers of his era,  the film harkens back to stone age documentary techniques that come across with post-holocaust results.

The theatrical re-release coincides with the 60th anniversary of the JFK assassination. While Rush to Judgement has been available on sources like Youtube this is the first time it’s been seen on the big screen since initial release, distributed in the new millennium by Films We Like.

Rush to Judgment unwinds in Houston at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston on Sunday, November 19 (5 pm.) and Wednesday, November 22 (2 pm.)

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