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From JFK to `JFK': echoes of an assassination

The events of Nov. 22, 1963, have been echoed, reenacted -- even presaged -- by a number of assassination movies. Here is a sample: * "The Manchurian Candidate" (1962, MGM/UA). Released less than a month before President Kennedy's assassination -- then virtually buried by United Artists until 1988 -- John Frankenheimer's film mixes black humor and prescient Cold War commentary to tell the story of a Korean War hero (Laurence Harvey) who becomes a lethal pawn in the hands of the Chinese.

* "Targets" (1968, Paramount). Although loosely based on Charles Whitman's killing spree on the University of Texas at Austin campus in 1966, Peter Bogdanovich's first feature, about an all-American sniper, reminded many of Dallas and Lee Harvey Oswald.

* "Executive Action" (1973, Warner). Hollywood lefties Burt Lancaster and Will Geer, abetted by Hollywood 10 screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, dispute the Warren Commission's single-gunman theory almost 20 years before Oliver Stone reached the same conclusion.

* "The Parallax View" (1974, Paramount). This conspiracy thriller stars Warren Beatty as a reporter who witnesses the shooting of a political candidate and then is marked for elimination.

* "The Conversation" (1974, Paramount). Professional snoop Gene Hackman can't believe his own ears as he eavesdrops on a plot to assassinate a corporate executive. Francis Ford Coppola considers it his best movie.

* "Taxi Driver" (1976, Columbia). Robert De Niro's sociopathic Vietnam vet, who tracks a New York mayoral candidate, obviously was inspired by Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan, James Earl Ray, et al.

* "Winter Kills" (1979, Anchor Bay). Jeff Bridges is the brother of a slain president who uncovers everything the conspiracy nuts always have maintained: The shooting was masterminded by the FBI and the military-industrial complex and carried out by the Mafia. Something of a head trip, the film was financed by drug money, according to Bridges and director William Rickert.

* "Blow Out" (1981, MGM). John Travolta plays a Hollywood sound man whose boom mikes pick up an assassination in progress. Directed by Brian De Palma, a master of paranoid fantasies.

* "The Dead Zone" (1983, Paramount). In David Cronenberg's twist (taken from the Stephen King novel), Christopher Walken uses newfound psychic powers to stop a corrupt politician, played by Martin Sheen.

* "To Live and Die in L.A." (1985, MGM). William Friedkin's thriller opens with a hushed-up attempt on a US president's life by an Iranian terrorist.

* "JFK" (1991, Warner). The ultimate conspiracy-buff movie is by -- who else? -- Stone, who blends newsreel footage, reenactments, and wild speculation to make his case for an inside job.

* "Interview With the Assassin" (2002, Showtime). Neil Burger's faux-documentary profile of the "other gunman" on Dealey Plaza is both conspiracy-theory satire and unnerving thriller.

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