The heirs of a man who recorded the assassination of late President John F. Kennedy are suing to get the original film — which could reveal discrepencies in widely held views, such as if there were multiple shooters in the attack and not a lone gunman — back from the federal government, who they say has been hiding it for decades.
The footage, shot by Orville Nix, a Dallas maintenance man who died in 1972, was filmed from the center of Dealey Plaza while Kennedy's limousine drove into where the ambush was to take place on Dallas' Elm Street, and shows what is believed to be the only unobstructed view of the "grassy knoll" when the fatal shot was taken, reports The New York Post.
The Nixes not only are seeking the release of the film but $29.7 million in compensatory damages.
Some researchers claim that additional snipers were concealed on the knoll, and they believe the film will show that.
"It would be very significant if the original Nix film surfaced today," Jefferson Morley, author of "The Ghost" and other books about the CIA, told the Post, explaining that with modern digital image processing the film would become a new piece of evidence.
"There's a significant loss in quality between the first and second generation," when it comes to an analog film like Nix's, he added.
The original film was last examined in 1978 by photo experts whom the House Select Committee on Assassinations had hired, leading the panel to conclude that "two gunmen" likely fired at Kennedy and he was "probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy."
However, the experts were in doubt about whether the movie showed the other gunmen, and the complete film disappeared. There are some imperfect copies, including one used in Oliver Stone's movie "JFK."
But now, 45 years later, more advanced computer analysis of the original film could solve the mystery, so the Nixes are returning to court after a lawsuit they filed in 2015 was dismissed.
In their lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., the Nix family includes dozens of documents to trace the original film's path.
Back in 1963, just after the assassination, the press agency UPI paid Nix $5,000, or about $50,000 in current dollars, for a 25-year license on the film. The agency promised to return it to him in 1988, but Nix died in 1972 and the rights passed to his wife and son.
However, his family was not notified when the House committee subpoenaed the film in 1978, and their lawsuit claims the National Archives and Records Administration has lied to them, claiming never to have had the "out-of-camera original" film.
The committee's analysts, though, delivered the film directly to the Archives office in 1978, evidence in the filing shows.
Time may be running out for the film to be useful, however, as it is "at or near the end of its lifespan," and modern image processing should be completed, Kenneth Castleman, a former NASA senior scientist and prominent expert who studied the film in the early 1970s told the Post.
"Working directly from the original, assuming it's still in good shape, might reveal data that is not visible on the copies," he said."There are new techniques to bring up detail in an image that might possibly bring out new information that was not visible previously."
Castleman, who in 1973 analyzed an element seen in Nix's film that some believed showed a marksman with a raised rifle near the Dealey Plaza pergola, said the image "was definitely not a person" but three bright spots in some frames.
He doesn't think further analysis of the film will change his analysis.
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.