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In 1964, superstar producer David Wolper entrusted a then-fledgling director named Mel Stuart with the first documentary about the year-old assassination of John F. Kennedy. Stuart went on to a successful, diverse career, interspersing such popular feature films as If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with an array of interesting nonfiction work, including The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Wattstax, and the moving The Unfinished Journey of Robert F. Kennedy. But with Four Days in November, he and Wolper paved the way for a certain modernity in the look and feel of a thoroughly researched documentary about a painful subject. Much of the film is compiled from television kinescopes of live TV coverage in Dallas on that fateful day, ordered in such a way as to offer viewers who lived through the events a sense of perspective, clarification, and perhaps closure. The myriad conspiracy theories that immediately appeared in the wake of Kennedy's death (not to mention Jack Ruby's murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, footage of which is included here) are examined and dismissed, though in fairness much, much else has been discovered since then to keep suspicions alive. The most fascinating and unexpected sequence, perhaps, is a clip from David Frost's old comedy show on British television, That Was the Week That Was, in which Frost, actor Roy Kinnear ( Willy Wonka, interestingly enough), and others talk about their personal feelings regarding Kennedy. --Tom Keogh
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