(PART 822)


An interesting topic came up at The Education Forum recently, regarding the fact that the FBI actually took a test film with Abraham Zapruder's Bell & Howell camera during the WC/FBI/SS re-enactment of the assassination in Dealey Plaza on May 24, 1964.

This "test" film utilizing Mr. Zapruder's very own camera apparently still exists and is currently being stored at the National Archives (along with test films that were also made on 5/24/64 with Orville Nix's camera and Marie Muchmore's camera).

Duncan MacRae said this in a post at The Education Forum on January 1, 2010:

"The May 1964 FBI/Secret Service re-enactment in Dallas included a test film shot with the Zapruder camera. The film is at the National Archives waiting for someone to have it transfered to video. Perhaps if the alterationists investigated this further, they could find out information regarding the sprocket hole controversy and other debatable issues. It puzzles me why they have never tried to gain access to this avenue of research to prove their points, or have they? Test films shot with the Nix and Muchmore cameras are also at the National Archives. This information was provided by Gary Mack."
-- Duncan MacRae; 01/01/10


On January 3, 2010, conspiracy theorist David S. Lifton added the following comments to the discussion:

"I looked up [Lyndal] Shaneyfelt's testimony about the May, 1964 reconstruction, hopeful that I would find confirmation on the existence of such a test film. According to Shaneyfelt, he indeed took pictures from the Zapruder pedestal, frame by frame, as he photographed the re-enactment. But he did not--I repeat, did NOT--use Zapruder's camera. (And, after all, why should he have? Think about it: the hypothesis being tested was whether Oswald had a clear line of sight from the window; NOT whether the Zapruder camera was the source of the Z frames that are in evidence).

Quoting from Shaneyfelt's testimony, at page 148 of Volume 5 of the Warren Commission: "The picture in the upper right is a photograph that I made with a speed graphic camera from Zapruder's position of the car reestablished in that position."

According to Duncan MacRae's post, he has been informed by Sixth Floor Museum Curator Gary Mack that such a film--taken in Zapruder's camera--exists at NARA. I have no way of knowing whether or not that is true. In addition, there is the question of whether any such test film was actually exposed at full telephoto.

If all this is indeed the case--i.e., if there was indeed motion picture footage from Zapruder's position, exposed with Zapruder's camera and exposed with the setting at full telephoto--then I would certainly like to know about it. Further, I would like to then examine the left margin and do a careful comparison between what those frames show and the frames from the so-called "camera original" Zapruder film.

From my reading of Shaneyfelt's testimony, the Zapruder camera was not used during the May, 1964 re-enactment. Rather, an ordinary speed graphic camera was utilized. Now it is entirely possible, I suppose, that Gary Mack has better information--and if so, perhaps he could post it on this forum. If such footage exists, using Zapruder's Bell and Howell camera, and exposed at full telephoto, I'd certainly like to obtain a contact print, showing the entire left margin--so that it can be compared with the Zapruder frames in evidence.

Postscript: If such a film exists, then what is needed is not a video transfer, but a full frame contact print. That would be the best way to examine the intersprocket area--it seems to me.

But...first things first: did the Secret Service really shoot a test film, with Zapruder's camera, at full telephoto? And is such a film in the JFK Records Collection?"

[End Lifton quotes.]


But had Mr. Lifton taken a look at some more of Lyndal Shaneyfelt's Warren Commission testimony, he would have been able to confirm for himself the fact that Zapruder's camera WAS, in fact, used to create a test film FROM ZAPRUDER'S POSITION ON TOP OF THE PEDESTAL. We find that confirmation in Shaneyfelt's testimony at 5 H 162. Here's the pertinent excerpt [with emphasis added by DVP]:

ARLEN SPECTER -- "What motion pictures, if any, were taken during the reenactment?"

LYNDAL L. SHANEYFELT -- "During the reenactment, the black-and-white photographs were made from Zapruder's position with a Speedgraphic camera and we also took motion pictures with Mr. Zapruder's camera from Zapruder's position with the car in the fixed locations as they were established with the car just stationary in those locations. After establishing all those points and making these film records of it, we then had the car proceed along that Elm Street route at approximately 11 miles per hour, and filmed it with Mr. Zapruder's camera loaded with color film from Mr. Zapruder's position and simultaneously photographed it with Mr. Nix's camera from Mr. Nix's position, and Mrs. Muchmore's camera from Mrs. Muchmore's position, and this was done twice."


For several years now, I've had in my possession a copy of a few portions of the 5/24/64 re-enactment film (see the video below). The picture quality isn't too great, but it's a re-creation film that definitely shows motion-picture sequences taken from the three locations in Dealey Plaza where Abe Zapruder, Orville Nix, and Marie Muchmore took their films.

Now, whether this exact re-enactment film seen below contains footage taken with the Zapruder, Nix, and Muchmore cameras, I cannot say for certain:

David Von Pein
January 3, 2010