(1960, Robert Drew)
Continuing on the Irish theme set forth by the viewing of The Quiet Man, a study of Irish-Catholic U.S. President John F. Kennedy during his campaign for the 1960 Democratic nomination on the days surrounding the Wisconsin primary. Having lived in Wisconsin (Go Pack!) and being taken with the Kennedy legacy, I was interested in seeing a nearly-50 year old vision of both. Smaller towns like Sparta, Tomah, Eau Claire and LaCrosse get visited by Kennedy’s opponent Hubert Humphrey, from the great neighboring state of Minnesota, while northeasternah Kennedy focuses on the large throngs in metropolitan Milwaukee.
This made-for-television documentary is important on so many levels. First, it’s a historical document of a political process that no longer exists in America. It also captures a small glimpse of candidates’ private lives. And it’s also one of the first uses of cinéma-vérité, which enhances the intimacy of their private moments. Finally, it’s a pairing of some great talent, including famed documentarians Albert Maysles and D.A. Pennebaker, who began using cinéma-vérité as a movement which changed the face of television and film for years to come.
Truly worth catching. And under an hour — bonus!