When the decision was made to portray a young John F. Kennedy in the film PT-109, Cliff Robertson was chosen. There is some dispute about just how that happened.
The most popular story has it that President Kennedy specifically requested Robertson. Well, good for him.
A less known story that briefly made the rounds had Kennedy wanting Warren Beatty. The director refused. Beatty was too unstable and Robertson had the virtue of dependability. So the President sent his Press Secretary, Pierre Salinger to protest. The director was said to have answered bluntly: "Don't tell ME how to make an exploitation movie!"
That one is colorful and a little more entertaining. Not really plausible, though.
Beatty is said to have been Jacqueline Kennedy's preference. But President Kennedy personally selected Robertson after viewing screen tests and meeting with the actor. According to this more believable account, the President had a lot of say in the production of the film. He insisted that it be historically accurate and that profits go to the survivors and families. He also insisted that he be allowed to choose the actor who would portray him. And he chose Cliff Robertson.
Before the film was released, he was asked by a reporter how he had become a war hero. His reply has become iconic. "It was involuntary. They sank my boat."
The heroism of that age, of most times, tends toward self-deprecating understatement. A more recent hero, awarded the fourth highest possible military citation given by the U.S. Armed Forces for combat bravery, described his actions to me. "I just went a little crazy."
The war was not kind to the Kennedy family. In addition to John F. Kennedy's near death, his older brother Joe was killed. The older Kennedy brother was on a secret, and highly experimental, mission. He had volunteered to fly a plane loaded with high explosives to be aimed at some valuable target. The plane blew up while over the English Channel. Joe died instantly.
In fact, John Kennedy had no plans for a political life before Joe's death. Joe was the natural politician, enjoying policy discussions and meeting with people. Jack wanted to be a reporter. That all changed with the war.
Had he survived the gunshots in Dallas one horrible Friday afternoon, John F. Kennedy may well have been thankful at never having encountered Congressional Representative Peter King, the Republican who now represents a Long Island district in New York. It seems Representative King has a low tolerance for Democratic Presidents involving themselves in cinema.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.) on Wednesday demanded an investigation into a report that the White House is cooperating with a film on the mission to kill Osama bin Laden.
Representative King says he is horribly afraid that the President, the same President that had let nothing at all slip out about the mission ahead of time, yes that very President, will forget himself and blurt out to film makers a ton of classified information, thus endangering the safety of the United States of America.
This is not at all about politics. Peter King loves his country and wants to protect America from all dangers, foreign and domestic. It is not only the President's anticipated talkativeness from which he wants to save the nation. He has invested a lot of energy and much Congressional time investigating Muslim Americans for suspicious activities - like practicing Islam and worshiping God in Mosques.
Representative King is a white knuckle patriot who is very, very nervous about those who don't share his love of country.
Like the President who orchestrated the killing of the World's most famous terrorist.
You know. Enemies of America.
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Last time I checked, we are still very much at war with Islamofascists that revered bin Laden as their leader.
Besides, the fact that our current commander in chief already has no qualms about telling the enemy and the world when we are pulling out of various theaters of operation doesn't give me great confidence that he won't divulge other information, even if it doesn't make it into the movie, that should probably be kept secret for now.
I can only assume the release of this film will coincidently be right before the 2012 general election too, although my waxing cynicism might be from too many recent debates with our mutual friend, John Myste. :)
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