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#50: Oliver Stone’s JFK Stirs Controversy

After more than 20 years of speculation (including congressional hearings and enough books to constitute a literary genre), the conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination of John Kennedy broke in a big way thanks to Oliver Stone’s JFK, a three-hour epic stuffed with unforgettable cameos (John Candy‘s Nawlins lawyer and Kevin Bacon‘s Nixon-loving hustler – “fascism is coming back!” – deserve special mention) and so many potential conspirators (FBI, CIA, the Mafia, Communists, anti-Communists) that it’s unclear just who WASN’T on the grassy knoll.

Thanks to script leaks, articles lambasting the production as unconscionable and “insult to the intelligence” appeared only days into shooting. The furor hardly diminished when the film was finally released in 1992. Along with endless complaints of factual inaccuracies (Stone claims the movie is a “countermyth,” which means it’s completely full of it but in a good way), gay activists didn’t appreciate the film’s salacious treatment of alleged conspirators’ homosexuality, particularly the costumed orgy between Bacon, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones and Joe Pesci. Yes, Joe Pesci.

Despite (or thanks to) the uproar, the film was a financial success and nominated for eight Oscars. Everyone from the Simpsons to Seinfeld paid comic homage, and in the ultimate sign of cultural saturation, Congress passed the JFK Records Act, promising the release of all files concerning the assassination by 2017. Only nine years till the truth is out!