Home > Films > J > JFK

Sunday June 23rd 2024

JFK | 1991

JFK film location: Texas Schoolbook Depository, Elm Street, Dallas
JFK film location: Lee Harvey Oswald's nest: Texas Schoolbook Depository, Elm Street, Dallas | Photograph: Wikimedia / Michael Barera

Somehow, Oliver Stone got permission to use many actual sites for his contentious film about events surrounding the assassination of President John F Kennedy on November 22, 1963. They're mostly divided between Dallas, Texas, where the President was killed, and New Orleans, Louisiana, where DA Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) investigates the possible machinations of behind-the-scenes figures.

You don't have to buy into Garrison/Stone's elaborate theory or even be swayed by conspiracy theories to feel that questions remain about the killing.

The sixth floor of what was then the Texas Book Depository is now the The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, 411 Elm Street, is a fascinating museum telling the various stories of the assassination. Vast amounts of background detail are available on self-operated videos and recorded commentaries and it's an extraordinary place to visit.

JFK filming location: Texas Schoolbook Depository, Elm Street, Dallas
JFK location: Dealey Plaza, from the Seventh Floor, as seen in the film: Texas Schoolbook Depository, Elm Street, Dallas | Photograph: Wikimedia / Michael Barera

The movie does use the old depository building as the spot from which assassin/patsy Lee Harvey Oswald (Gary Oldman) is supposed to have fired the fatal shots. The scene is actually staged one flight up on the Seventh Floor which not only minimised disruption to the museum but fortuitously compensated for the growth of trees outside.

Other genuine locations include the boarding house Oswald (Gary Oldman) occupied in 1962, to which he returned after the shooting (and where police officer JD Tippit was killed), at 1026 North Beckley Avenue, just west of Lake Cliff park, southwest of Downtown Dallas, across the Trinity River Greenbelt Park.

Oswald is arrested a little to the south, at the Texas Theater, 231 West Jefferson Street at North Zang Boulevard, which is in business to this day.

In custody, Oswald is taken to the old Dallas City Jail in the Dallas Municipal Building, South Harwood Street at Main Street, in the basement garage of which he's shot by Jack Ruby.

Not every location is so real, however. 'Parkland Hospital', to which JFK’s body is taken immediately after the shooting, was St Joseph’s Hospital in Fort Worth, which has since been demolished. Coincidentally, it was in the same Parkland memorial Hospital, 5201 Harry Hines Boulevard, that both Oswald, and later, Ruby dies.

Jack Ruby’s seedy nightclub, The Carousel, is ironically represented by the elegant Venetian Room of the Fairmont Hotel, 1717 North Akard Street at Ross Avenue, downtown Dallas. Newly renovated, the Venetian has hosted celebrities including Marlene Dietrich, Ella Fitzgerald, Ike & Tina Turner, Jerry Lewis and many others. 

To New Orleans, where Garrison’s office is in the Louisiana Supreme Court Building, 400 Royal Street.

JFK filming location: Napoleon House, Chartres Street, New Orleans
JFK location: Jim Garrison watches new of the shooting on TV: Napoleon House, Chartres Street, New Orleans | Photograph: Wikimedia / Cyprien Lomas

The bar in which Garrison watches the TV news reports of the shooting is the arty, laidback Napoleon House, 500 Chartres Street at the corner of St Louis Street in the French Quarter. The restaurant itself dates from 1914, the name coming from a crazy plot in 1821 to rescue Napoleon Bonaparte from exile on the isle of St Helena and install him in this house.

The office of far-right anti-Castro sleazeball Guy Banister (Edward Asner) is at 531 Lafayette Street, with the other entrance around the corner at 544 Camp Street, just west of the French Quarter.

As he gets deeper into the investigation, Garrison has a confrontation with lawyer Dean Andrews (John Candy) over a meal in the Annex Room at the famous French-Creole Antoine’s Restaurant, 713 St Louis Street, New Orleans. Even older than the Napoleon House, the restaurant was established in 1840, and has occupied its present spot since 1868 and is the original home of Oysters Rockefeller (a closely-guarded Antoine's secret).

The climactic trial of the flamboyant Clay Shaw (Tommy Lee Jones) was filmed in its real location, the Criminal Courts Building, Tulane and Broad Streets.

In Washington DC, Garrison meets up with mysterious contact X (Donald Sutherland) at the Lincoln Memorial, 23rd Street NW.

And finally of course, JFK’s last resting place is Arlington National Cemetery. The US military cemetery, established during the Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, stands across the Potomac River from Washington DC, in Virginia. The dead of the nation's conflicts since the Civil War, along with those reinterred from earlier battles, are buried in its 624 acres.

This is a basic entry and due to be expanded.