JFKBoxJFK 50th Commemorative Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Warner, Blu-ray) – Say what you want to about Oliver Stone, America’s pop historian auteur knows how to court controversy. His 1991 epic conspiracy drama tosses plenty of theories around as facts and turns one man’s conspiracy theory into “the answer” with such assuredness that it may have convinced an entire generation. It is an entertaining theory, to be sure, and he makes an entertaining film of it with the help of a massive cast (Kevin Costner as Texas D.A. Jim Garrison, Sissy Spacek as his wife, Joe Pesci, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman, Jack Lemmon, Kevin Bacon, Donald Sutherland, Walter Matthau, Vincent D’Onofrio, Michael Rooker, John Candy, Sally Kirkland, Ed Asner, Laurie Metcalf and Tomas Milian), many of them delivering sideshow style performances. The director’s cut adds 17 minutes and more characters (including ones played by John Laroquette and Ron Rifkin) than the original theatrical version and has pretty much become the official edition.

It’s been out in numerous editions on DVD and Blu-ray already, but the 50-year commemoration of the assassination of John F. Kennedy pretty much guaranteed a new edition and this one is quite a box. It’s got all the supplements of the previous Blu-ray and 2-Disc DVD Special Edition (commentary by director Oliver Stone, twelve extended/deleted scenes and an alternate ending with optional commentary by Stone, and the 1992 documentary feature Beyond JFK: A Question of Conspiracy, co-directed by two-time Oscar winner Barbara Kopple) plus three bonus documentaries: the new JFK Remembered: 50 Years Later (directed by Robert Kline), the 1965 John F. Kennedy: Years of Lightning, Day of Drums (directed by Bruce Herschensohn), and JFK: To the Brink (a chapter from Stone’s Showtime series Untold History of the United States).

The 8″ x 12″ box also features a bunch of collectibles: a book of JFK quotations, a 44-page movie photo book, reproductions of photos and correspondence from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, character cards, a reproduction of the inaugural address, and a 14 ½” x 21″ reproduction of the iconic Kennedy campaign poster.


But the most interesting bonus of this box is PT 109, the 1963 film starring Cliff Robertson as Lt. John F. Kennedy serving in the South Pacific during World War II. Produced by Joseph Kennedy, JFK’s father, this was the first big screen film about a sitting president, and it was released five months before he was killed. It is more or less accurate to the historical record (moments of dramatic license aside), yet the film itself is a roll call of war clichés filled with often corny and arch dialogue, held together largely by Cliff Robertson, President Kennedy’s personal choice to portray him in the film. Robertson plays Kennedy as a plainspoken, easy-going, all-American guy who works side-by-side with the enlisted crewmen — a charismatic leader of modest authority and unflagging commitment. He carries the meandering film with his understated strength, giving a genial nobility to the heroism of the PT boat commander that his friends simply called Jack. Previously available on DVD-R from the Warner Archive Collection, this is the first pressed DVD release of the film.

JFK Remembered: 50 Years Later (Warner, DVD) and John F. Kennedy: Years of Lightning, Day of Drums (Warner, DVD) are also available separately.

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