‘JFK: The Final Hours’ an enlightening look at pre-Dallas time in Texas

11/08/2013 6:00 AM

11/06/2013 5:15 PM

“JFK: The Final Hours,” debuting Friday at 8 on the National Geographic Channel, is for the Kennedy history buff who thinks they’ve seen it all.

This 2-hour documentary is a fascinating look at the first part of President John F. Kennedy’s fateful Texas trip -- his time spent in San Antonio, Houston and Fort Worth -- featuring rare footage and interviews with people who were either with him on the trip or met him at one his stops.

It’s narrated by Bill Paxton, who as a young boy was actually present at one of Kennedy’s final public speeches outside the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth.

The documentary offers many poignant moments, including the president’s time with airmen who were conducting an experiment inside an oxygen chamber at Brooks Air Force base in San Antonio, and later, the president and first lady interacting with members of the Texas Boys Choir at a breakfast in Fort Worth just hours before Kennedy was killed.

The most refreshing thing about “JFK: The Final Hours,” which is one of many specials on Kennedy coinciding with the 50th anniversary of his Nov. 22, 1963 death, is that very, very little of it focuses on the assassination in Dallas (but there is a fairly morbid countdown-to-death by Paxton interspersed throughout). The documentary’s intense focus on those 24 hours or so before Kennedy was killed gives such a strong sense of the president and first lady and the impact of their visit on the everyday people they met before leaving for Dallas.

This is one that will stick with you -- and it’s a refreshing palate cleanser after watching a lot of the gloomier assassination docs we’re getting this month.

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