By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
JFK’s response to this was what biographer John Hellman describes as a “hopeless but ongoing duel” with his parents and older brother. In one telling incident, the rival siblings raced on bicycles around their house in opposite directions, resulting in a head-on collision: “Joe emerged unscathed, but Jack needed 28 stitches to his head.” (In World War II, however, it was Joe Jr. who died in a fiery explosion over the English Channel, while JFK survived the sinking of his PT boat in the South Pacific.)
Compared to athletic, studious, self-possessed Joe Jr., JFK was a slovenly, undisciplined dreamer. Rose‘s preference became evident when JFK outscored Joe Jr. on a school intelligence test and she suggested that there must have been some mistake. JFK would eventually become so contrary that, when Rose proffered an analogy to Jesus entering Jerusalem, JFK demanded to know what happened to Christ’s donkey.
If it was this defensive belligerence that later aided the president in his ongoing war of nerves with Khrushchev, in his resolve to keep West Berlin in Allied hands, and in his holy crusade to land an American astronaut on the moon before the end of the decade, you wouldn‘t know it from JFK on JFK.
Admittedly, Shannon was having a terrible time on the night I attended. It was an evening punctuated with gaffes like “See what we can do to make [Vietnamese President] Diem behave less like a democrat and more like a demigod . . . I mean, less like a demigod and more like a democrat.” Still, Shannon is obviously a fine actor, and it’s reasonable to speculate that he will strengthen his command of the material in the weeks to come. However, the question remains whether the material itself probes deeper than a Cliffs Notes to a presidential biography, or actually gets to the heart of Camelot.