JFK (1991) - Rotten Tomatoes

JFK (1991)



Critic Consensus: As history, Oliver Stone's JFK is dubious, but as filmmaking it's electric, cramming a ton of information and excitement into its three-hour runtime and making great use of its outstanding cast.

Movie Info

The November 22, 1963, assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy shocked the nation and the world. The brisk investigation of that murder conducted under the guidance of Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren distressed many observers, even though subsequent careful investigations have been unable to find much fault with the conclusions his commission drew, the central one of which was that the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, acted alone. Instead of satisfying the public, one result of the Warren Commission Report was that an unimaginable number of plausible conspiracy theories were bruited about, and these have supported a sizeable publishing mini-industry ever since. In making this movie, director Oliver Stone had his pick of supposed or real investigative flaws to draw from and has constructed what some reviewers felt was one of the most compelling (and controversial) political detective thrillers ever to emerge from American cinema. Long before filming was completed, Stone was fending off heated accusations of artistic and historical irresponsibility, and these only intensified after the film was released. In the story, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) is convinced that there are some big flaws in the investigation of Oswald (Gary Oldman), and he sets out to recreate the events leading up to the assassination. Along the way, he stumbles across evidence that a great many people had reason to want to see the president killed, and he is convinced that some of them worked in concert to frame Oswald as the killer. Among the suspects are Lyndon Baines Johnson (the next president), the CIA, J. Edgar Hoover, and the Mafia. Over the course of gathering what he believes to be evidence of a conspiracy, Garrison unveils some of the grittier aspects of New Orleans society, focusing on the shady activities of local businessman Clay Shaw (Tommy Lee Jones). Garrison's investigations culminate in his conducting a show trial that he knows he will lose and which he is sure will ruin his career in order to get his evidence into the public record where it can't be buried again. This movie won two of the many Academy Awards for which it was nominated: one for Best Photography (Robert Richardson) and the other for Editing (Joe Hutshing). ~ Clarke Fountain, Rovimore
Rating: R (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Oliver Stone, Zachary Sklar
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 27, 1997
Warner Bros.


Kevin Costner
as DA Jim Garrison
Sissy Spacek
as Liz Garrison
Joe Pesci
as David Ferrie
Tommy Lee Jones
as Clay Shaw
Gary Oldman
as Lee Harvey Oswald
Laurie Metcalf
as Susie Cox
John Candy
as Dean Andrews
Jack Lemmon
as Jack Martin
Walter Matthau
as Sen. Russell Long
Jay O Sanders
as Lou Ivon
Edward Asner
as Guy Bannister
Michael Rooker
as Bill Broussard
Sally Kirkland
as Rose Cheramie
Kevin Bacon
as Willie O'Keefe
Jim Garrison
as Earl Warren
Gary Grubbs
as Al Oser
Beata Pozniak
as Marina Oswald
Vincent D'Onofrio
as Bill Newman
Tony Plana
as Carlos Bringuier
Tomás Milian
as Leopoldo
Anthony Ramirez
as Epileptic
R. Bruce Elliott
as Bolton Ford Dealer
Ray LePere
as Abraham Zapruder
E.J. Morris
as 1st Plaza Witness
Cheryl Penland
as 2nd Plaza Witness
Jim Gough
as 3rd Plaza Witness
Perry R. Russo
as Angry Bar Patron
Mike Longman
as 1st Newsman
Wayne Knight
as Numa Bertel
Steve Reed
as John F. Kennedy - Do...
Jodie Farber
as Jackie Kennedy - Dou...
Tom Howard
as L.B.J.
Columbia DuBose
as Nellie Connally - Do...
Ron Jackson
as FBI Spokesman
Randy Means
as Gov. Connally - Doub...
Sean Stone
as Jasper Garrison
Amy Long
as Virginia Garrison
Scott Krueger
as Snapper Garrison
Allison Pratt Davis
as Elizabeth Garrison
Red Mitchell
as Sergeant Harkness
John William Galt
as Lyndon B. Johnson
Michael Ozag
as 3rd Hobo
John C. Martin
as Prison Guard
Henri Alciatore
as Maitre d'
Willem Oltmans
as George DeMohrenschil...
Gail Cronauer
as Janet Williams
Gary Carter
as Bill Williams
Roxie M. Frnka
as Earlene Roberts
A.G. Zeke Mills
as J.C. Price
Ellen McElduff
as Jean Hill
Sally Nystuen
as Mary Moorman
Jo Anderson
as Julia Ann Mercer
Marco Perella
as Mercer Interrogator
Edwin Neal
as Mercer Interrogator
Spain Logue
as 1st FBI Agent with H...
Darryl Cox
as 2nd FBI Agent with H...
T.J. Kennedy
as Hill Interrogator
James N. Harrell
as Sam Holland
J.J. Johnston
as Mobster with Broussa...
Barry Chambers
as Man at Firing Range
William Larsen
as Will Fritz
Alec Gifford
as 2nd TV Newsman
Eric A. Vicini
as French Reporter
Michael Gurievsky
as Russian Reporter
Caroline Crosthwaite...
as British Reporter
Helen Miller
as Garrison Receptionis...
Wayne Tippit
as FBI Agent-Frank
Dale Dye
as General Y.
Norman Davis
as Colonel Reich
Errol McLendon
as Man with Umbrella
John Seitz
as General Lemnitzer
Bruce Gelb
as Board Room Man
Jerry Douglas
as Board Room Man
Ryan MacDonald
as Board Room Man
Duane Grey
as Board Room Man
George R. Robertson
as White House Man
Baxter Harris
as White House Man
Alex Rodzi Rodine
as White House Man
Sam Stoneburner
as White House Man
Odin K. Langford
as Officer Habighorst
Bob Gunton
as 3rd TV Newsman
Nathan Scott
as John Chancler
Jorge Fernandez
as Miguel Torres
Roy Barnitt
as Irvin F Dymond
Alex Rodine
as White House Man
John Finnegan
as Judge Haggerty
Walter Breaux
as Vernon Bundy
Michael Skipper
as James Teague
Melodee Bowman
as FBI Receptionist
I.D. Brickman
as Dr. Peters
Joseph Nadell
as Dr. McClelland
Chris Robinson
as Dr. Humes
Christopher Otto
as Assistant DA
Frank Whaley
as Fake Oswald (uncredi...
Peter Maloney
as Colonel Finck
Wayne Tippet
as FBI Agent Frank
Chris Renna
as Bethesda Doctor
Dalton Dearborn
as Army General
Merlyn Sexton
as Admiral Kenney
Steve F. Price Jr.
as 1st Pathologist
Tom Bullock
as 2nd Pathologist
Ruary O'Connell
as 3rd Pathologist
Christopher Kosiciuk
as FBI Agent at Autopsy
John Reneau
as A Team Shooter
Stanley White
as B Team Shooter
Richard Rutowski
as Fence Shooter
Bill Bolender
as Prisoner Powell
Larry Melton
as Patrolman Joe Smith
Carol Farabee
as Carolyn Arnold
Willie Minor
as Bonnie Ray Williams
Ted Pennebaker
as Arnold Rowland
Bill Pickle
as Marion Baker
Mykel Chaves
as Sandra Styles
Gil Glasgow
as Tippet Shooter
Bob Orwig
as Officer Poe
Loys T. Bergeron
as Jury Foreman
Kristina Hare
as Reporter
John Galt
as Lyndon B. Johnson
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for JFK

Critic Reviews for JFK

All Critics (61) | Top Critics (12)

Sad to say, Oliver Stone's three hours of bombast did little to raise the level of discussion.

Full Review… | March 27, 2009
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Stone goes for the gut, but the complexity of theories surrounding the Kennedy assassination might have benefited from a cooler assessment.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The film's insurmountable problem is the vast amount of material it fails to make coherent sense of.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

JFK undeniably is well crafted and exhilarating. But it comes equipped with the biggest movie caveat emptor on record -- the historical context is Stone's and Stone's alone.

Full Review… | July 28, 2015
Tulsa World

An often extraordinary movie, not only in its technical prowess but also in the way Stone is able to combine historical facts with his own flights of fancy.

Full Review… | April 18, 2014
Creative Loafing

an imperfect masterpiece

Full Review… | November 22, 2013
7M Pictures

Audience Reviews for JFK

Director Oliver Stone is no stranger to biopics or documentaries covering the lives of influential or powerful people. He has looked in the lives of Vietnam veteran and political activist Ron Kovic in "Born On The Fourth Of July"; Jim Morrison, the lead singer of "The Doors"; military general and conquerer "Alexander" the great; Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro in "Comandante" and two films on the exploits of American presidents Richard "Nixon" and George "W." Bush. In the films mentioned, Stone explores the lives of these men but in "JFK" he does the opposite and explores the death of the man and in the process, crafts one of his most accomplished films.
In Dallas, Texas on November 22nd 1963, President John F. Kennedy is assassinated. The official explanation released by the F.B.I. doesn't make sense and is very suspicious. As a result, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) decides to investigate and uncovers a dangerous conspiracy that may involve more than he could ever have imagined.
Oliver Stone has done his homework here and bombards the audience with facts, theories and reports from the media, interviews and eyewitness testimonies. He covers the history of events right across the board from the Bay of Pigs to the Warren Report via the questionable marksmanship of "lone gunman" Lee Harvey Oswald. Whether or not you agree with Stone's theories is of little importance. What is of great importance is his ability to pose serious questions on one of the most tragic political events and biggest conspiracies in American history. It could easily come across that Stone (or Garrison) have all the answers but they don't. This is a film that endeavours to get to the root of the truth. Many questions will remain unanswered but it's also not the type of film that claims to provide them. Some information is pure speculation but the very place where Stone succeeds is his ability to instil debate. He welcomes it and the film is far more powerful because of it. It's a tangled web that has been weaved and Stone deserves the utmost respect in tackling it head on. What's most impressive though is that it's never boring. With all the details, it could be in danger of losing the audiences attention but it doesn't and this is thanks-in-large to editor's Pietro Scalia and Joe Hutshing in skilfully piecing all the fragmented narrative strands together. They won an Oscar for their work and deservingly so. Another deserving Oscar winner was cinematographer Robert Richardson for his marvellous attention to detail in capturing the look and feel of the 1960's. Amongst the the brisk pace and attention to detail is an abundant cast of quality actors and no matter how small the role, each of them get a chance to shine; Gary Oldman makes a perfect Oswald and other notable displays from Kevin Bacon, Joe Pesci, John Candy, Donald Sutherland and an Oscar nominated turn from Tommy Lee Jones as eccentric socialite, Clay Shaw. It's Costner who is the main focus here though and he delivers a solid and determined performance. More importantly, he's an appealing presence which is very much required when the film steps over the 3 hour mark. He captures the obsession of Garrison and in a lot of ways makes it our own; his dogged determination for answers reflecting ours. When all the dust has settled, the film culminates into a conventional court room drama but still remains riveting. It's during this time that despite some shocking revelations earlier in the film that Stone finishes with aplomb and takes his chance to disclose some staggering pieces of information.
A conspiracy theorists dream, that may take some criticism for being hypothetical or one-sided but there's no denying Stone's bravery or his skill in encapsulating the paranoia and unrest at this time in history.

Mark Walker

Super Reviewer

Please note that this review is over the director's cut of the film, clocking in at about 205 minutes.

Everyone knows John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated, but the case was never open and shut from the beginning, and with this film, Oliver Stone hoped to show that. What we have here is a dramatized take on the efforts of New Orleans District Attorney and his team of colleagues to bring to light various conspiracies surrounding the death of JFK, including the only (to this date) public trial concerning the event.

I knew from the beginning that this film was going to be heavy on historical revision, rejection/ignorance (as in purposely ignoring) of historical fact, and tons of conjecture, a lot of times without evidence, or at least substantial and credible amounts of it. I knew there'd be more questions and answers. And I knew that in general this film was going to be pretty inaccurate and take as much dramatic license as possible in the name of telling a great, engaging, and absorbing story.

And, now that I've seen it, I can easily say that yes, this is a riveting cinematic experience. But, I do think it's overrated and not the full on masterpiece it's been touted as being. However, if you treat the film as having no relation to reality in any way whatsoever, ie as just a fictional investigation into a fictional assassination, it still holds up as a wonderful story about a guy determined to bring about truth and justice. But, it's not totally fictional. It's a look at probably the most well known assassination of all time.

I honestly don't know what to believe in watching the film, and I'm not sure if Stone really knows the truth either. I'm not sure anyone does. That's not the point. The fact that people obsess over this case is a testament to its power. The fact that this is such a talked about and controversial movie is an even further testament to the strength of things.

Despite some dodgy writing and conclusions, this film is a brilliant show of cinematography and editing, especially with the editing. The presentation, like some of Stone's other works, is a frenetic, schizophrenic explosions of various filters, lenses, formats, styles, and techniques, all in the name of artistry, symbolism, or some other sort of important reason. And...it works. It definitely makes for a unique experience, that's for sure.

Don't ask me to name the whole cast. That'd be insane. I think Stone may have out Altmaned Altman on this one. The choices are excellent though, and it's nice seeing so many notable names, especially since a lot of them are in tiny roles or cameos, and many agreed to take pay cuts to be in the film. Costner is absolutely brilliant as Garrison, and Rooker, Knight, Sanders, and Metcalf are all equally strong as his underlings. Gary Oldman knocks it out of the park as Lee Harvey Oswald, which I expected, but for me, the two best performances after Costner belong to Joe Pesci and Donald Sutherland. Pesci's breakdown and Suther;and's monologue rank as some of the best moments of their respective careers, and the final courtroom monologue given by Costner is one of the most epic things ever.

I really enjoyed this film despite its flaws. I feel it is definitely an important piece of work, because it really did open up a lot of eyes, and it did so in such a stellar cinematic way, but it didn't shake me enough to warrant the full grade that this sort of thing typcially illicits from me. Defintiely give it a watch though.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

I'm not really big into conspiracy theories and all. In fact, I mostly think that conspiracy theorists are nut cases, and quite often lunatics. In regard to Oliver Stone's JFK, the film deals with the conspiracy that there was a second gun man who assisted Lee Harvey Oswald in assassinating John F. Kennedy. JFK is a good conspiracy thriller that I didn't expect to enjoy. However I was pleasantly surprised. Oliver Stone directs an impressive and talented cast of actors here. Kevin Costner and Tommy Lee Jones really shine. I won't go into detail about the films plot as everyone pretty knows the story of this film. I thought that the plot was engaging enough to keep you interested from start to finish. Oliver Stone manages to grab your attention right from the start. The cast that star in this film make this film work well enough, and JFK is a pretty good conspiracy thriller. Though I wasn't particularly blown away by the film, I thought it was pretty good for what it was. JFK is a good film with plenty of twists to keep you guessing till the very end. Oliver Stone manages to keep you interested as the film demands the viewer to answer the questions that the film asks. Though I'm not really big into Oliver Stone films, JFK did entertain me, and if you enjoy conspiracy thrillers, you're most likely going to enjoy this one. The cast is terrific, and there are some great performances here and the film is complimented by a good story. I personally think that there wasn't a conspiracy in the JFK assassination, but to those who are interested in the topic; this film will definitely appeal to you.

Alex roy

Super Reviewer

JFK Quotes

– Submitted by Jared B (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Alex K (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Alex K (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Alex K (2 years ago)

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