Review: 'Truth is the Only Client: The Official Investigation of the Murder of John F. Kennedy'
November 22 once again marks the anniversaray of JFK’s assassination in Dallas, Texas in 1963.
It remains a hot button topic all these years later, with a never-ending stream of books and documentaries about ever-evolving conspiracy theories.
We have never really stopped thinking and speculating and wondering about what happened that fateful day.
It might all be summed up in Oliver Stone’s very popular, very controversial film JFK (1991) starring Kevin Costner and Gary Oldman, a tantalizing blend of both fact and fiction.
At the heart of the ongoing controversy is the 26-volume Warren Commission Report which officially declared that a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, shot Kennedy with his mail-order Mannlicher-Carcano rifle from an upper floor of the infamous Dallas Book Depository building.
Many were reluctant to believe that a single shooter could do what he accused of doing. The years of fierce debate began.
The official report seemed flawed with so many details that seemed patently outrageous.
At the top of the list, the “Magic Bullet Theory” proposed by Arlen Specter that claimed that one of Oswald’s three shots somehow managed to travel a trajectory that injured both Kennedy and Governor Connally who was seated in front of the president.
The claim seemed to be preposterous, since the bullet by all accounts would have had to change direction in mid-air and would have sustained noticeable physical damage after ripping through the flesh and bone of two men.
Other details of the assassination were puzzling, leaving the case wide open to reevaluation and reinterpretation.
While most reassessment of the Warren Report focuses on what it got wrong, few have taken a look at what it may have gotten right, which in the case of Truth is the Only Client, might have been pretty much everything.
It is a hard look at the conclusions of the Warren Report based on interviews with the surviving members of the commission as well as interviews with key witnesses such as Ruth Paine, the owner of the home where Oswald’s Russian wife Marina lived in 1963.
The movie is long, running 2 hours and 20 minutes. It’s a bit tedious to watch, consisting of long, locked down, sit down interviews interspersed with a minimal amount of photos and stock footage.
Admittedly, the stock footage includes a detailed, frame-by-frame look at the now-famous Zapruder 8mm home movie film footage.
It provides the crucial physical evidence that investigators have studied to determine the direction and timing of the shots.
It unemotionally captured the unimaginable horror that unfolded in the presidential limonene that sunny November afternoon that shattered a nation – the final fleeting moments of Kennedy’s life.
In the days before ubiquitous cell phone cameras, it was a stunning revelation that someone happened to unintentionally film one of the defining moments of the 20th century with a Bell + Howell home movie camera.
The 26 seconds he photographed arguably became the most important film clip in history. 486 precious frames of hard evidence.
But even the seemingly irrefutable details captured on film have generated debate.
Rather than answering questions, they have only raised new ones, most famously, the possible existence of a second shooter from what became known as the “grassy knoll.”
The enigmatic nature of raw photographic images became the theme of Michelangelo Antonioni’s brilliant film Blow-Up in 1966.
It underscored the fact that seeing is not necessarily believing. The harder you looked, the less you seemed to understand.
In Zapruder’s film, we see the footage showing the president’s head violently exploding. We see the gruesome autopsy photographs and illustrations.
We see the long-scrutinized pristine condition of the “Magic Bullet” found on Governor Connally’s hospital gurney at Parkland Hospital.
Its near-perfect condition was one of the details of the Warren Commission Report that drew so much attention.
In support of the commission’s findings, the movie points out the often overlooked detail that the bullet in question was a jacketed military round designed to remain intact upon impact and not “mushroom” or fragment like a standard bullet does upon impact.
Truth is the Only Client addresses many of the details of the Kennedy Assassination that have plagued us.
Its mission is to reassure us that the Warren Commission, despite the flood of criticism over the years, did a thorough investigation and essentially got it right.
And that is despite the fact that, at the time, key, pertinent information had deliberately been withheld from the commission by both the FBI and the CIA, due to issues of sensitivity and secrecy.
While the revelations are substantial and shocking, the surviving members of the commission stated that in hindsight the information would not have affected their conclusions.
Conspiracy theorists will hate this film. Those with open minds might find it to be plausible.
As mentioned, it attempts to justify the findings of the Warren Commission. But those familiar with perplexing details of Kennedy’s assassination know that much is omitted and left unanswered.
It seems that every year, on the anniversary of the assassination, new books, articles and movies are released, purportedly shedding new light about the events of November 22, 1963.
We’d all like to know the real story—the final truth. But as each year passes, we drift further and further away from any possibility of uncovering that.
Yes, Truth is the Only Client presents some things we need to consider when we try to make sense of this tragic event.
Namely, that all the conspiracy theories over the years might simply be the stuff of wild speculation and overactive imagination.
Perhaps, it really was the work of one deranged individual benefitting from a string of improbable, seemingly impossible events that somehow connected and became real. We may never know.
Still, we find ourselves being drawn back to the scene of the crime. The temptation is irresistible.
We’d all like to think that the inescapable, irrefutable truth is out there. Somewhere.
Truth is the Only Client: The Official Investigation of the Murder of John F. Kennedy is available on Video on Demand platforms everywhere.