jfk, conspiracies, swiss conspiracy, hangar 18

It would be difficult, if not impossible to observe this 50thAnniversary weekend of John F. Kennedy’s assassination while ignoring the many conspiracy theories surrounding the event and subsequent investigations. There are the well-known theories related to the  “Magic Bullet” and the “Second Shooter,” as well as more bizarre ones relating to “The Umbrella Man,” even time-travel and Masonic rituals.

If all this has gotten you hot, bothered and hungry for more–and FilmON’s Living History channel hasn’t satiated your JFK needs—there are some film suggestions, beginning with an order of The Swiss Conspiracy (1976). This film’s plot is not related to the JFK assassination (at least not obviously), but is nevertheless quite entertaining. After the requisite, ominous white-on-black expository paragraphs, the film takes off to an aerial shot of Swiss banking-capital Zurich and a Bavarian Oompah theme that blends into some great funk fusion (the film’s excellent soundtrack is composed by Klaus Doldinger, leader of Passport, Germany’s funky answer to Joe Zawinul’s Weather Report). My previous memory of Zurich was primarily that of a bizarre international bowling experience with fellow hostel denizens; this film shows another, more deviously nefarious side of the town. With stars such as David Janssen (the original Fugitive) and John Saxon (Enter The Dragon, Westworld), Anton Diffring (Fahrenheit 451, Where Eagles Dare) and Kurt Lowens (Torn Curtain) the conspiracy credentials are already immaculate, so the fun can begin. You’ve got Costas-Gavras type chases, a Two For The Road-type autobahn flirtation that goes cold, Fassbinder-worthy detectives in a gaudy disco, and psycho hitmen Arthur Brauss (The Goalie’s Anxiety At the Penalty Kick, Cross of Iron) and David Hess (Last House On the Left’s Krug Stilo).

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UFO-JFK conspiracies also exist as well, so from that alone you could never turn your back on Hangar 18 (1980), which has a plot about a mysterious space disaster and cover-up that also has immediate appeal to fans of Close Encounters, China Syndrome,and recent George ClooneySandra Bullock Oscar-contenderGravity. Again the acting roster’s worthy of CIA-intervention: Darren McGavin (Kolchak: The Night Stalker, B Must Die), Joseph Campanella (Mannix), Garry Collins (Six Million Dollar Man), and Robert Vaughn (Man From U.N.C.L.E., Bullitt).

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And if you want to keep heading way out there, so far you may never get there (or get back), there’s Madmen of Mandoras (1963 – observe also the date), in which Hitler’s brain has been preserved by an enclave of Nazi fanatics, and is controlling the inhabitants of a tropical island. Interestingly, this film was shot in L.A.’s Bronson Caves, where Adam West’s Batman would soon make his home.

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