Mrs Paine and the Assassination

July 5, 2022

Documentary, Festival, Film Festival, Review, This Week 1 Comment

… an extremely interesting yet unsatisfying affair …

Mrs Paine and the Assassination

Annette Basile
Year: 2022
Director: Max Good

Ruth Paine, Michael Paine, Priscilla McMillan, Max Holland

Released: July 7 - 17, 2022
Running Time: 100 minutes
Worth: $17.00

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

… an extremely interesting yet unsatisfying affair …

The last two phone calls Lee Harvey Oswald ever made were to Ruth Paine. Oswald, the official lone assassin of John F. Kennedy, took aim at the Presidential motorcade from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas. It was November 22, 1963. Oswald, who would be fatally shot two days later, had only been working there briefly. It was Ruth Paine that got him the job…

Ruth Paine, now in her 80s, insists that Oswald acted alone. There was no conspiracy. Case closed. And yet it appears she herself is a student of the assassination. That’s just one of many contradictory elements in Max Good’s film. A film so dense with information you may want to watch it a second time to take it all in.

Good presents a dual narrative – on the one hand, there’s the articulate Mrs Paine, a child psychologist by trade. On the other, there’s the filmmaker’s narration – plus a parade of JFK researchers – constantly raising questions about her story, suggesting that, at the very least, she was a pawn for the CIA, used to gather information or be an unwitting ‘babysitter’ for Oswald’s pregnant wife, Marina.

Paine’s father possibly worked for the CIA, and her sister definitely did. But was Mrs Paine a CIA agent or an asset herself? Or was she simply a good Quaker woman, lonely after separating from her husband, needing some company and someone to help?

Paine became friendly with the Oswalds after meeting them at a party nine months before the assassination. In the months to come, Ruth Paine would take Marina – who was having marital problems – into her Dallas home, helping the young Russian immigrant who spoke little English prepare for the birth of the Oswalds’ second child.

Good has chosen a murky storytelling path. Paine is believable. There are no telltale signs that she’s lying, but there’s that barrel of contradictions. To tackle those contradictions would take more than a single feature-length documentary. Questions raised are inadequately explored – such as the letter, apparently written by Oswald, which Paine discovered as it floated out of the pages of a book. The letter implicated Oswald in another shooting. But Oswald’s fingerprints were not on the letter, we’re told.

Good tiptoes around Paine. He doesn’t want to damage the trust he’s built with her, and while he does attempt some tougher questions, he doesn’t sufficiently challenge her.

Marina Oswald told Good not to waste his life looking for answers about the assassination. The truth, she said, will never come out. Marina refused to be interviewed for this documentary, and she’s changed her position on the guilt status of her late husband over the years. But Ruth Paine, who’s hardly media-shy, has been consistent since 1963 – to the point that she’s been accused of sticking to a script.

Mrs Paine and the Assassination is an extremely interesting yet unsatisfying affair. It doesn’t get you any closer to the truth. Looks like Marina Oswald was right.



Leave a Comment