The ground-breaking book that chronicled an election, and the David L. Wolper Kennedy documentaries that it inspired.
The American Presidential race of 1960 between the youthful (in fact, 43-year-old) John F. Kennedy and the already old-fashioned Richard Nixon – who was actually just four years older than Kennedy but seemed of a different generation – was one of the most fascinating and, it seemed, the most significant election of the 20th century. It was the subject of an equally revolutionary political book, Theodore H. White’s The Making of the President 1960 which – despite the rather staid title – offered a new way of reporting on the election, making it feel like a thriller with its intimate look at both candidates from the primaries to election night. It became a best seller and would lead to further books by White chronicling the 1964, 1968 and 1972 elections.
The success of the book led to a film version – not a drama, but a documentary that sought to tell the story in a similar way. It was made in 1963 by David L. Wolper, whose productions credits include numerous other political and cultural documentaries, as well as The Hellstrom Chronicle, Roots, Get Christie Love and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
By the time the film was completed, Kennedy had been assassinated; however, it was released without any further additions, standing as a record of the election rather than Kennedy’s time in office. However, Wolper followed it in 1964 with Four Days in November, which studied the assassination.
You can see both films below.
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