EXECUTIVE ACTION (David Miller, 1973, USA) A cabal of white supremacists devises their own Gunpowder Treason and Plot, dismembering Democracy with three sharp rapports that echo the end of an era…and opens the Watergates whose torrent erodes the foundation of our Constitution. Director David Miller and writer Dalton Trumbo contrives a vast conspiracy theorem that depicts a fictional account of the Kennedy assassination utilizing archival footage intercut with the unfolding narrative.
The story is told from the point of view of powerful but ambiguous businessmen and retired government officials, who seek to dam the sea change of the Civil Rights Movement and anti-war establishment by murdering the President. A chillingly prescient film told with cold and formal logic, where humanity is relegated to ideological agitprop and morality reduced to ashes of American flags. Trumbo’s screenplay is also a biting satire on the murderous legacy of McCarthyism, as he puts words into the mouths of the conspirators that probably held legitimacy for the demagogic Wisconsin Senator. The film also implies that Martin Luther King, Jr. will become a target of the same faction, as the Noble Prize winning peacemaker shall follow the same fatal trajectory. Miller uses King’s legendary speech where he espouses his dream before the ageless visage of Abraham Lincoln, once again directing a nation divided against itself towards peaceful remedy.
Filmed in 1973, many of the discrepancies of the Warren Commission have been deposed in the intervening years, and the general premise of three gunmen firing from different locations has been proven wrong beyond a reasonable doubt. Even the quote from The London Times that deduces the probability of so many witnesses dying after the report was published has been invalidated. But the power of the film is in the possibility that a few men can change the world and impose their own ideals and political agendas upon the many: this is more frightening than a lone gunman and his deadly polemic. Final Grade: (B-)