FOUR DAYS IN NOVEMBER
(1964)






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WATCH THE COMPLETE MOVIE:












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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE FILM:


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DVP-Potpourri.blogspot.com/Four Days In November


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REVIEW:


"In the memory of man, few events have shocked the world as those Four Days in November. Here, with scenes never presented before, is a complete motion picture chronicle of that incredible time in Dallas. Here is the minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day story -- with every detail revealed, every question answered."


"A full motion picture chronicle of the four days our generation will never forget ... four days that electrified and saddened the world. Included are scenes never before seen on television or the motion picture screen."


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The words quoted above appeared on many of the United Artists promotional movie posters advertising one of the best documentary films ever made (and, in my opinion, THE very finest documentary film dealing with the 1963 assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy) -- "Four Days In November" -- which debuted in American movie theaters on Saturday, November 21, 1964, which was just one day shy of the first anniversary of JFK's assassination. (The film had a New York premiere on October 7, 1964, a month-and-a-half prior to its general USA release date.)

"Four Days In November", a black-and-white film directed by Mel Stuart and skillfully narrated by actor Richard Basehart, remains my all-time favorite JFK-related program (whether it be a movie or a TV special). It's an expertly edited chronological documentary which guides the viewer through all four of those dark November days that shocked the nation and the world in late 1963.

"Four Days" received a significant amount of attention and was, in fact, nominated for an Academy Award (for "Best Documentary Feature" of 1964).

Via several re-creations of the actual Dallas events (using some of the people who were directly involved, such as Buell Wesley Frazier, Linnie Mae Randle, Johnny Brewer, and William Whaley), this David L. Wolper production gives the viewer a true feeling of being able to re-live the events of November 22-25, 1963, when America's 46-year-old leader was gunned down on Elm Street in Dallas, Texas.

"Four Days" was made only a matter of months after the assassination, which helped in making the re-creations all the more effective, since the people involved, the locations, the landmarks, and even the automobiles had not changed much at all since the tragedy occurred. I truly had the sense of being there BEFORE it happened because of the very good re-created scenes.

One of the film's re-created segments that has an especially eerie quality to it is the scene where we see Buell Wesley Frazier driving his Chevrolet sedan toward the "drab bulk" of the Texas School Book Depository, which looms ahead in the foreground. Frazier was the 19-year-old Book Depository co-worker of Lee Harvey Oswald's who gave Oswald a ride to work on the morning of President Kennedy's assassination.

In addition to the re-created portions of the movie, there's an abundance of stock news footage presented throughout the documentary. In fact, the majority of the film is composed of TV news footage and archival film clips, including some pre-November 22nd footage covering JFK's activities in the days leading up to that terrible Friday in Dallas, including some rarely-seen footage of President Kennedy's mid-November trip to Florida and his visits to San Antonio, Houston, and Fort Worth on 11/21/63.

Another reason I have for holding "Four Days In November" in such high esteem is its outstanding music score, composed by Elmer Bernstein. Mr. Bernstein's stirring musical arrangements fit "Four Days" just perfectly, adding emotional impact to each and every portion of the film.

Wolper Productions thankfully sidestepped all the conspiracy theories associated with JFK's murder and stuck by the Warren Commission's "Lone Assassin" verdict for this documentary.

The narration spoken by Richard Basehart in "Four Days" was written by Theodore Strauss. Below is an excerpt concerning Mr. Strauss that I copied directly from the original 1964 pressbook for "Four Days In November" (which was an advertising guide distributed to movie theaters in advance of the film's release):

"When the executive producer of "Four Days In November," David L. Wolper, asked best-selling author Theodore White "who would be the best man to write this important narration?", White immediately named Theodore Strauss. .... [Quoting Strauss:] "I can't recall any assignment, anywhere, that has been as exacting as this one. In the first place, to record these four unimaginable days accurately is a frightening prospect alone. The world sat over our shoulders, and to select just the right words to tell the story is a rather nervous task at best." "

Even though all conspiracy theorists would vehemently disagree with me, I certainly think Theodore Strauss chose just the right words for this film. In fact, each time I watch this motion picture (which is often) I'm always amazed by how accurate it is, right down to even some of the very small details, such as the exact amount of the cab fare for Lee Harvey Oswald's taxi drive to Oak Cliff on 11/22/63 -- 95 cents.

Some of the details that appear in "Four Days" were undoubtedly gathered by Wolper and his team of researchers themselves, since several witnesses appear in the film and were (I assume) interviewed by the filmmakers about what they knew concerning the events of November 22nd, such as cab driver William Whaley.

As previously mentioned, Whaley was one of the witnesses who performed a re-enactment of his November 22 movements, taking the Wolper cameras along for the ride as he re-created the taxicab drive he and Lee Oswald took to the Dallas suburb of Oak Cliff.

As far as I can recall, I think there is only one factual error in the movie (and even this error isn't a major one), and that's when narrator Richard Basehart says that Lee Oswald exited his roominghouse at 1026 North Beckley Avenue wearing "a different, lighter jacket", which implies, of course, that Oswald entered the roominghouse wearing a jacket.

According to housekeeper Earlene Roberts, however, Oswald was in his shirt sleeves and was not wearing any jacket at all when he rushed into his rented room on 11/22/63.

However, in fairness to David Wolper and his crew, it's quite likely that Wolper and company got the additional "jacket" information from William Whaley himself, because Whaley's Warren Commission testimony indicates that Whaley thought that Oswald was wearing "a work jacket that almost matched [his] pants" [2 H 255].

Therefore, it's very likely that Whaley told the "Four Days" filmmakers the very same story about Oswald wearing a jacket, with Wolper having no real reason for doubting Whaley's account. (And I assume the Wolper people did not interview Mary Bledsoe or Earlene Roberts during the making of the film. Had they done so, of course, a different story concerning Oswald's jackets would have emerged.)


"FOUR DAYS" ON HOME VIDEO:

"Four Days In November" was distributed on VHS video by MGM/UA Home Video in 1988, and was again released on videotape, in different packaging, by MGM in 2000.

In June 2008, the film was made available on DVD-R, at a very reasonable price, by the Internet company MediaOutlet.com (formerly EarthStation1.com).

Both of those VHS video versions of the movie offer up pretty good picture quality (in the 1.33:1 Full-Frame aspect ratio) and above-average audio quality as well (in Hi-Fi Mono). The 2000 video includes some MGM trailers at the beginning of the tape, whereas the '88 version does not. The film's running time is 122 minutes (2 hours and 2 minutes).


The "Four Days" home video trailer can be seen below:

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A FEW FINAL WORDS:

Many of the facts surrounding President Kennedy's assassination have been disputed and debated by researchers for decades. And this tragic crime will likely remain a topic that shall cause heated debate for many more years to come.

But what the film "Four Days In November" does accomplish is to allow the viewer to re-live those sorrowful November days, in the order in which the events transpired, based on the evidence available.

"Four Days" also serves as a very nice companion piece to the two exemplary books written by former Los Angeles prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi on the subject of the JFK assassination -- 2007's "Reclaiming History: The Assassination Of President John F. Kennedy" and Mr. Bugliosi's 2008 paperback follow-up volume that, ironically, sports the exact same title as the David L. Wolper movie I've been discussing in this review, "Four Days In November".

In late October 2010, I was discussing the movie "Four Days In November" with Vincent Bugliosi, and he told me something I had never heard before -- Vince said that in the early stages of writing his JFK book (when the book was still untitled), David Wolper told him that he wanted to make another documentary on the JFK assassination, which would be based on Bugliosi's book. Unfortunately, however, that documentary was never made.

Mr. Wolper passed away at the age of 82, on August 10, 2010. He will be remembered for producing many excellent documentaries, mainly for television. And the Academy Award-nominated "Four Days In November", which was a United Artists theatrical release, is certainly one of his finest accomplishments.

Anyone who has a collection of John F. Kennedy-related videos and DVDs should definitely own a copy of this remarkable
motion picture.

Two other first-rate documentaries from the Wolper film factory are "The Making Of The President 1960" (produced in 1963) and "The Legend Of Marilyn Monroe" (1964).

David Von Pein
July 2001
August 2006
April 2007
February 2008
July 2009
November 2010

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COMPANION VIDEO TO "FOUR DAYS" -- DAVID WOLPER'S
"A THOUSAND DAYS", ALSO MADE IN 1964:



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ANOTHER OUTSTANDING 1964 JFK DOCUMENTARY:

"John F. Kennedy: Years Of Lightning, Day Of Drums" is a color film that tells the story of the all-too-short Presidency of Jack Kennedy. In the same league with "Four Days In November", "Years Of Lightning" is a rich and satisfying motion picture, and is (in this writer's opinion) one of the very best films or documentaries ever created about the 35th U.S. Chief Executive.

It's a first-class production all the way, including stellar narration by actor Gregory Peck and an impeccable music score that words alone cannot do justice to.

"Years Of Lightning, Day Of Drums" was made in 1964, but it didn't premiere in movie theaters until April of 1966.

"And it was true the President was killed. But it was also true that the assassin missed his target, for he wanted John Kennedy to die; and that he was unable to do. For no man can take away years of lightning with a single day of drums." -- From "John F. Kennedy: Years Of Lightning, Day Of Drums"


WATCH THE FILM HERE:



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MORE JFK PROGRAMS:


NBC WHITE PAPER: "THE AGE OF KENNEDY" (1966)


"ON TRIAL: LEE HARVEY OSWALD" (1986)


JFK'S LAST PRESS CONFERENCE (11/14/63)


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MY KENNEDY VIDEO PHOTO ALBUM:


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88 STILL IMAGES FROM "FOUR DAYS IN NOVEMBER":






































































































































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