The Kennedy Library is honoring the Centennial all year:
Warner Brothers' film PT 109 was unique in that its tale of a President's wartime heroics was released while the President was occupying the Oval Office. Released in 1963, JFK was still with us and had a say in casting Cliff Robertson as himself. He was wary of some teen idol getting the part! ;) A solid cast (Ty Hardin, James Gregory, and Robert Culp) back up Robertson in an inspiring tale of a man's leadership and refusal to give up in what appeared to be hopeless circumstances.
One telling scene late in the film shows a crewman apologizing for 'blowing his top' while things were looking grim and Lieutenant Kennedy assuring him that he wanted men around him who would speak their minds, which carried over into the White House. His brother Bobby was usually on the same page but spoke his mind when he thought JFK needed to hear it, and other close friends/staffers did the same. Imagine a President welcoming opposing views!
This movie will make your hair stand on end. We came close, very close. JFK had to fight his own generals throughout his Administration but never more than during the Cuban Missile Crisis. They wanted to strike at the missiles in Cuba or just go straight for Moscow. JFK did consider knocking out the missiles in Cuba but knew things would escalate, so did his best to find another way. He stared down into the nuclear abyss and got us out to the other side unscathed.
After this crisis, JFK worked to move toward a detente with Khrushchev, believing that the alternative of continued Cold War confrontations was far too dangerous to continue.
P.S. General Curtis LeMay (USAF) ("Those damned Kennedys!") was satirized in Dr. Strangelove (1964).
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