Younger audiences may not be aware that, at one point in the 80s and a good chunk of the 90s, Oliver Stone was a powerful, controversial and often brutally insightful filmmaker. A veteran of the Vietnam war, he exorcised his demons over the conflict and the nature of combat in the Best Picture-winning Platoon, largely based on his own experiences. Following that, he went on to direct Tom Cruise in one of his best performances in Born on the Fourth of July and the quintessential Michael Douglas role in Wall Street.
He was already an iconoclastic figure when he set about writing JFK, a film that Martin Scorsese considers the best of its decade and still controversial amongst conspiracy theorists, congressman and film nerds. It's a shame he's fallen from grace, releasing an oddly sentimental sequel to Wall Street and a dead-on-arrival biopic of then-sitting President George W. Bush. His rhetoric is still that of an embittered veteran, aghast at what has become of his country, but it's not ringing out as loud.
What's particularly astounding is that one need not have a vested interest in the hows and whys of the JFK assassination and still be moved, as the film is less about its subject matter as it is the nature of obsession. We ignore the absurdity of Jim Garrison's convoluted conspiracy theory and side with him because we've all had unhealthy obsessions.
But it went through the political and social wringer even before it was released.
20. It Made Some Bizarre Casting Decisions
While casting the film, Stone intentionally used actors more known for comedic roles as opposed to dramatic. The cast of JFK is almost impossible to list from memory without forgetting one or two names - especially when actors like Vincent D'onofrio appear with only a line of dialogue - but it's unlikely audiences would forget actors like John Candy and John Larroquette pop up in a supposedly serious thriller. Thankfully, the commonly held belief that drama and comedy aren't that different for the performer proved to work in Stone's favour.
One particularly peculiar bit of casting trivia is that the film is the only one in their acting CV in which legendary screen duo Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau both appear, but never share a single scene together.