The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates

By Francine Brokaw

“The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates” is a 2-disc set that takes viewers back to the 1960 presidential campaign and the early days of the Kennedy administration. Robert Drew’s documentaries are pieces of history as well as being enlightening to those who were alive during that time and viewers born well after the 1960s. Seeing the documentaries is much better than reading about the people and the events in history books.

Today’s presidential campaigns are quite different than those of the last century. “Primary” is a film that looks at the 1960 Wisconsin primary. It’s hard to believe in this day and age that primary campaigns were not as important as they are today. Comparing the Wisconsin primary of 1960 to those of today is like comparing apples to oranges. They were completely different. This documentary follows candidates John Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey as they campaign for votes in the state. This was definitely a kinder, gentler time in American politics. The full documentary as well as an edited version is included in this set.

The filmmaker turns the cameras on the White House in “Adventures on the New Frontier,” a documentary that was filmed six weeks after Kennedy’s inauguration. What was it like in the Kennedy White House?

“Crisis” is a fascinating documentary focusing on the showdown between the Kennedy administration and Alabama Governor George Wallace. Beginning with the opening scenes of Robert Kennedy having breakfast at his Hickory Hill home with his family then switching to Wallace’s morning in the Governor’s mansion is an interesting dichotomy between these two men who would soon face off against each other in an historical event to integrate the University by admitting Vivian Malone and James Hood. Watching the Kennedy administration struggle to get the two students past Wallace and into school is not only a lesson in history, but also a personal window into the souls of all the men involved in this historic event.

“Faces of November” is the final film in this DVD set. It is simply a compilation of scenes from the days following the assassination in Dallas. There is no commentary. There is no narration. It is simply a film filled with the raw emotions of the country at that difficult time.

Supplemental features add greatly to viewers’ understanding about this time in history. A look at the relationship between John and Robert Kennedy as well as the health of the president sheds light on the way the president handled his time in office.

A fun fact brought out is that while in the Oval Office, men always wore their jackets in deference to the office. In their private offices they didn’t necessarily wear their jackets, but they always wore their ties.

“The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates” is an interesting and educational combination of films that shed light on the men and the events of the early 1960s. It is available on Blu-ray as well as DVD.

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