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With: John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, Hubert H. Humphrey
Written by: Robert Drew
Directed by: Robert Drew
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 60
Date: 01/01/1960

Primary (1960)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

The JFK Files

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Robert Drew and his crew members Richard Leacock, D.A. Pennebaker and Albert Maysles were part of a new generation of documentary filmmakers bent on getting closer to the "truth" than their predecessors. They made movies with intimate access and no frills -- i.e. no narration, stills or talking heads -- and seemed to get right to the heart of the matter. This impressive filmed record of the 1960 presidential primary documents the showdown between Hubert Humphrey and John F. Kennedy as if it were still a contest. Yet it's important to remember that even something that seems as fly-on-the-wall as this has its own agenda, and Kennedy comes out the winner right from the start. In the film's opening minutes, Humphrey greets a lone redneck on a front porch while Kennedy appears to hoards of screaming fans. In 1990, the Library of Congress selected Primary for its National Film Registry.

DVD Details: In 2008 Docurama re-packaged Primary in a two-disc set, The Robert Drew Kennedy Films Collection, with two other films: Crisis (1963), about the 1963 Cuban Missile Crisis, and Faces of November (1964), documenting the aftermath of Kennedy's assassination. (Both are included on the second disc.)

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