1963 SECRET SERVICE
RECONSTRUCTION FILM
OF JFK'S ASSASSINATION








The National Archives and Records Administration [NARA] teamed up with "CustomFlix Labs" (which is now called "CreateSpace") in the Summer of 2007, and began releasing many archived films and newsreels on the DVD-R digital video format. "CreateSpace" is an Amazon.com company which specializes in producing "On Demand" DVDs and Audio CDs.

A July 30, 2007, press release states the following:

"The National Archives has selected the CustomFlix DVD-on-Demand service [now "CreateSpace"] to initially make its collection of Universal Newsreels, dating from 1929 to 1967, available on DVD to the general public for purchase on Amazon.com. .... The DVD-on-Demand program allows organizations like the National Archives to offer their DVDs for sale on Amazon.com without inventory. DVDs are manufactured only when customers purchase them, eliminating the risks and hassles associated with traditional distribution, while ensuring titles remain in stock. Once purchased on Amazon.com, DVDs can be delivered to the customer within 24 hours."

I, for one, am very excited about this new agreement between CreateSpace and the National Archives, particularly as it relates to the various films and programs centering on the subject of former President John F. Kennedy and his assassination in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.

The rare film from the National Archives that has been placed on this DVD is a film that I never thought would be made available in uncut form on any video format -- the "Assassination Reconstruction Film" that was produced by the U.S. Secret Service in late November and early December of 1963, shortly after President Kennedy was murdered.

This silent black-and-white film, which runs for 24 minutes, contains what I assume is a full-length, uncut version of the original Secret Service filmed footage of the assassination scene at Dealey Plaza on the western edge of downtown Dallas. [The complete 24-minute film can be seen by clicking HERE or by playing the video above.]

The footage begins with an overview type of "panoramic" shot of Dealey Plaza, as the camera pans the whole Plaza. We can see the large "Hertz" time-and-temperature sign atop the Texas School Book Depository Building with great clarity in the film (it's 3:55 PM and 56 degrees as the film begins).

The next couple of segments put us right inside a car that is re-creating the route that JFK travelled during his motorcade through Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963. This unique footage provides an uninterrupted look at the very same things that the occupants of President Kennedy's limousine would have also seen on that tragic day just two weeks earlier, including the turn from Main Street to Houston Street, and then the slow hairpin left turn from Houston onto Elm Street, and then continuing on Elm through the "Triple Underpass" at the western edge of the Plaza.

The second "inside the car" run-through segment focuses particular attention on the Book Depository Building (from where Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated the President and seriously wounded Texas Governor John Connally, who was sitting in front of Kennedy in the Presidential limousine).

Next, we're taken inside the Book Depository for a tour of the sixth floor of that building, including the famous "Sniper's Nest" in the southeast corner of the 6th Floor, from where Oswald fired the three shots that killed a President and changed history.

The most interesting part of this section of the film, in my opinion, is when we see an "Oswald stand-in" (whom I assume is a Secret Service agent) seated on a box inside the "Sniper's Nest" and pointing a makeshift "rifle" (actually just the man's arm) out the window, just as the real Oswald must have done as he crouched in that very same window with his Mannlicher-Carcano rifle on Friday, November 22, 1963.

Next, a Lincoln Continental convertible (similar to Kennedy's 1961 Lincoln limousine) is filmed from the sniper's window on the sixth floor of the Book Depository in a series of re-creations of the Main-to-Houston-to-Elm route that was travelled by JFK on November 22nd.

This series of reconstructed motorcade footage was done with the car being filmed moving at various speeds, from relatively fast, to a medium speed, and then to a very slow rate of speed.

Some of this footage is filmed through the telescopic sight of a rifle, simulating the exact scene that Lee Harvey Oswald would have been witnessing through the scope of his Carcano rifle as he was firing the bullets that killed JFK.

The next part of the Secret Service film depicts an Oswald stand-in vacating the Sniper's Nest and walking across the sixth floor toward the northwest corner of the building, where Oswald placed his rifle between some book cartons before descending to the second-floor lunchroom.

The man performing this re-creation of Oswald's likely post-assassination movements, however, is moving painfully slow for some reason. After hiding a makeshift rifle behind some boxes, we see him start down the stairs toward the fifth floor.

The film then cuts to footage of the second floor, where we see Oswald's stand-in (who appears to be a different man from the sixth-floor footage) walking into the second-floor lunchroom (and again, he's moving incredibly slow; probably much slower than the real Oswald was moving on 11/22/63).

The Secret Service film concludes with some footage shot from the approximate filming location of amateur moviemaker Abraham Zapruder on the north side of Elm Street on the "Grassy Knoll".

The footage contained in this film varies somewhat in overall picture quality, with some of the sequences being more "bleached out" than other parts of the film.

Some photographs from this Secret Service reconstruction can be found in official Warren Commission Exhibit #875, which consists of multiple still photos taken from the Sniper's-Nest window.

The pictures in CE875, however, are not taken directly from the film that's on this DVD. The still pictures were apparently taken during one or more alternate re-creations of the motorcade from the ones seen in this film.

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DVD STATS:

Video -- Full-Frame aspect ratio (1.33:1). Black-and-White.

Audio -- None.

Running Time -- 24:39.

Menus -- None.

Chapter Stops -- 5.

Packaging -- Amaray type keepcase.

Paper Enclosures -- None.

Disc Format -- DVD-R.

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This National Archives DVD, which sports the full title of "JFK EXHIBIT: RECONSTRUCTION FILM", probably won't be very appealing or interesting to anyone who isn't a serious student of President Kennedy's assassination (nor
to anybody who isn't an avid collector of video material associated with the Kennedys). But for those who do collect such things, this DVD is a nice
rarely-seen gem to add to the JFK video shelf.

David Von Pein
February 2008

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SCREEN CAPTURES FROM
THE SECRET SERVICE FILM:













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BONUS FILM:


1964 SECRET SERVICE ASSASSINATION RECONSTRUCTION FILM (WITH NARRATION BY JIM UNDERWOOD OF KRLD-TV):





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