Flawed in many respects, but this film about the assassination of President Kennedy exudes a calm "quietness" (no music score at all) and a nostalgic '60s-like quality that make it eminently watchable, whether you happen to be a
conspiracy theorist or a lone-assassin proponent.


Prominent JFK-assassination researcher/conspiracist Mark Lane serves as narrator and interviewer in his self-produced black-and-white documentary film "Rush To Judgment" (which was filmed in 1966 and first seen in movie theaters on June 2, 1967). The film is based on Mr. Lane's 1966 book of the same title. The entire book can be read HERE.

In "Rush To Judgment" (both the film and the book), Mark Lane attempts to make a case to favor the idea that the Warren Commission was wrong and that a conspiracy existed in the 1963 assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. In a subjective and very narrow and limited fashion, it would appear that Mr. Lane has, indeed, succeeded in providing some indications of a JFK assassination conspiracy during the course of this film.

But the totality of all the evidence in the JFK case leads not to conspiracy, in my view, but just the opposite. The whole story tells me that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone assassin that Friday in Dallas.

I think Mr. Lane's pro-conspiracy arguments are weak in many regards. Let me give a few examples of why I say that:

To quote directly from the film (with Mr. Lane interviewing Dealey Plaza witness James Simmons):

MARK LANE -- "I show you a picture, published by the Warren Commission as Commission Exhibit number 2215, which is a view of the Triple Underpass area. I ask you if you'd be good enough to mark with this pen, with an X, the area where you thought the shots came from, and where you saw the smoke."

Mr. Simmons then proceeded to place an "X" behind the picket (wooden) fence on top of the Grassy Knoll.

Mr. Lane asked another witness, J.C. Price, the exact same question (and keep in mind he phrased it with the word "Shots" [plural] -- "Where did you hear the shots come from?"). And Mr. Price, just like Simmons, placed an "X" in the same area behind the fence on the Knoll.

Now, the problem I have with this type of testimony and "X"-placing demonstrations with regard to these witnesses is that they are claiming, in essence, that ALL the shots fired that day had come from that SAME frontal (Knoll) location -- which we KNOW is wrong. There is no question that shots came from the Texas School Book Depository Building (to the REAR of JFK's limousine).

Therefore, since we KNOW that rear shots did occur (a certainty due to the back wounds sustained by both John Kennedy and John Connally), the testimony of witnesses claiming that shots originated from ONLY the front becomes patently weak (and obviously inaccurate).

Below are some other parts of "Rush To Judgment" that are quite weak in supporting Mark Lane's general conspiracy claims and beliefs:

Lane spends a few minutes on a very odd conspiracy argument -- where he seems to be doubtful as to whether Lee Oswald rode as a passenger on a Dallas city bus just after the shooting on November 22, 1963. Lane argues that bus driver Cecil McWatters could never positively identify Oswald as having been on his bus that Friday afternoon.

But, even if McWatters' personal observations concerning LHO are fuzzy, this in no way indicates Oswald WASN'T on the bus. Because Lane conveniently ignores the positive IDing of Oswald by fellow bus passenger Mary E. Bledsoe. PLUS the fact that a bus transfer (dated "Fri. Nov. 22, '63") was found on Oswald after his arrest (Warren Commission Exhibit "CE381").

Mrs. Bledsoe recognized Oswald immediately when she saw him on the bus on November 22nd. She had seen him just a little over a month earlier (in October 1963), when Oswald had rented a room from Mrs. Bledsoe for a few days (from October 7th to 14th), before Bledsoe decided she didn't like him anymore, and, in effect, kicked him out.

So for Mark Lane to leave this doubt in the minds of unaware people watching his film that Oswald just might NOT have been on the bus is, in my view, both irresponsible and deliberately deceptive -- because besides McWatters (and the physical evidence of the paper bus transfer found in LHO's pocket), there was a MUCH more credible witness to Oswald's having been on the bus -- and that was a person who actually KNEW Oswald and had seen him up close on prior occasions -- that being Mrs. Bledsoe.

Not to mention the fact that Oswald HIMSELF told police that he was on the bus. Now, yes, Oswald was an expert liar -- but I fail to see WHY he'd want to lie about something so benign in nature, like being on a bus for a few minutes on November 22.

So, in this rare instance, it would seem Oswald was telling the truth to the authorities. Especially when his bus story can be backed up with other evidence -- the paper transfer and Mrs. Bledsoe.

And -- There's also Mr. Lane's misleading his audience with the "Lovelady or Oswald in the Doorway?" issue -- which, of course, had been cleared up even by the time Lane produced his film in mid-1966.

On April 7, 1964, Book Depository worker Billy Lovelady testified that it was he, and not Oswald, who was standing in the Depository doorway when President Kennedy was being killed in Dealey Plaza (as seen in a photograph taken by James Altgens).

And yet, still, Lane seems to infer in his film that the issue was still "undecided" in some manner (more than two years after Lovelady testified in front of the Warren Commission) -- hinting that it just may have been Oswald, after all, in the Depository doorway. This is wholly misleading on the part of Mark Lane.

Plus -- There are the several minutes Mr. Lane spends on the rather unimportant matter of the blacked-out car license plate in a picture of General Edwin Walker's home. He quotes several passages of Marina Oswald's testimony regarding the blacked-out plate -- but I fail to see where it really leads to conspiracy in any manner.

Lane also interviews assassination researcher Penn Jones, who rambles on and on about the "eight mysterious deaths" that had occurred since the assassination (from late 1963 to the time Jones was interviewed, which I think was approximately late spring or early summer of 1966).

Jones' list included one man who was evidently killed by a "karate chop to the throat". I can't recall who that was right at this moment, but it had me rolling with laughter because it sounded so odd.

One thing I've always found amusing about the conspiracists' various "Mystery Deaths" lists is the randomness to such lists; and the fact that some of these so-called "Mystery Death" compilations have people listed that died MANY YEARS after the assassination.

A good example of the randomness in this regard would be Lee Bowers, Jr. -- Many people believe Bowers was rubbed out by conspirators in some manner (with plotters "arranging" the deadly car crash that killed Bowers on August 9, 1966, just three months after he was interviewed on camera by Mark Lane for the "Rush To Judgment" film).

But Bowers' so-called "mysterious" death is particularly amusing when viewed from a "Why Bother Killing Bowers Now?" point-of-view -- i.e.: why kill him AFTER he's already spilled his guts to Mark Lane ON FILM?

The time to have rubbed out Mr. Bowers would have been BEFORE he was captured on film talking about things that seem (on the surface) to be conspiratorial in nature regarding the JFK assassination.

For any conspirators to want to kill Bowers after he's already talked is like closing the gate after the horse has already gotten loose. What the heck is the point?

In addition -- Why didn't the Mystery Death Conspiracy Squad go after and take care of S.M. (Skinny) Holland, too? Holland, in fact, should have probably been NUMBER ONE on the conspirators' Death List, because his testimony of hearing a fourth shot and seeing smoke on the Grassy Knoll was far more damaging to the conspiracy team than a lot of other witnesses who died in what some theorists believe was a shady manner.

And this Death Squad was apparently in the habit of rubbing out witnesses who went against the official Warren Commission/Lone Nut grain after the assassination.

Why, then, wasn't Holland silenced? Along with Jean Hill? And Bill Newman? And Arnold Rowland? And Richard Dodd? And J.C. Price? And Gordon Arnold? And Ed Hoffman? And James Simmons? And Paul O'Connor? And many other MORE DIRECT eyewitnesses to the crime, who told of events that went AGAINST the Official Warren Commission version of the assassination?

I recall reading that some bozo had concocted his own "Post-Assassination Mystery Death" list -- and on it he placed a person who was simply visiting JFK's gravesite at Arlington Cemetery, and had a heart attack and died while leaning over the eternal flame! LOL! (Think THAT'S stretching the Death List a tad too thin?)

Holland, et al, were all people who have said things since 11/22/63 that could have been very damaging to the conspirators' ultimate goal of getting away with murder, but were they killed off in mysterious ways? No.

The "Mystery Deaths" lists have always been a pick-and-choose type of conspiracy-slanted argument that fails to hold any water whatsoever, especially when some authors of such random lists ALSO include "mystery killings" that occurred DECADES after the assassination. Such stretched-out killings are simply ludicrous.

I'm somewhat surprised that Dorothy Kilgallen's death wasn't mentioned in the Mark Lane film. Kilgallen died on November 8, 1965, and many people added her to their Mysterious JFK Assassination Deaths list as well.

Kilgallen was found dead in her home of a suspected drug overdose just hours after she had finished up what turned out to be her last appearance on the long-running TV game show "What's My Line?" (a program which featured Dorothy as a regular panelist for 15 years).

She evidently had secured an exclusive interview with Oswald's killer, Jack Ruby, and, according to some people, Kilgallen was about to "blow the lid off the JFK case". Many conspiracy theorists, therefore, feel she was murdered because of the information she possessed.

I do not believe Kilgallen was rubbed out by conspirators, but I'm surprised that she wasn't at least mentioned in this film, due to the untimely nature of her death and her supposed "connections" to the JFK case.

I've often wondered why the alleged plotters in a "Let's Frame The Patsy" plot just simply didn't arrange Oswald's own suicide right there within the Sniper's Nest on the Depository's 6th Floor on November 22nd?

These plotters obviously were going to need to have him killed off at some point after 12:30 PM on November 22 (per what many/most conspiracy-hungry theorists seem to believe, due to these same conspiracists also believing that Jack Ruby was hired to rub out the Patsy), so why wait 48 hours to do it (and give Oswald a chance to spill any facts he may know about ANYTHING related to the assassination plan)?

I realize that some conspiracy-crazy kooks might retort here with the following --- "It was necessary to have Oswald CAUGHT (physically) and detained by police and officially CHARGED with the assassination".

However, if these conspirators who have arranged everything else so perfectly and completely (right down to apparently PLANTING not only the bullet shells, the paper bag, the rifle, and Stretcher Bullet CE399 -- but also "planting" the two bullet fragments inside the limousine itself which were conclusively proven to have come from Oswald's rifle) -- then the PHYSICAL capture of Oswald would really be unnecessary from the plotters' point-of-view (since his guilt had been so thoroughly pre-arranged).

Letting Lee Harvey Oswald live to say even those four words to a live television audience -- "I'M JUST A PATSY!" -- does not make sense from the conspirators' POV, in my opinion.



Video and audio quality on the "MPI Home Video" VHS tape of "Rush To Judgment" are pretty good. 32 sample images from the film can be seen below.

The VHS specifications include a Hi-Fi Mono soundtrack and a Standard (Full-Frame) TV aspect ratio (1.33:1). Running time is 98 minutes (in "SP" mode). There is no music score at all.

The videotape version of this movie has been saddled with an added (unnecessary) subtitle, "The Plot To Kill JFK" (which, for some reason, appears above the true title of the motion picture, "Rush To Judgment", on the VHS packaging).




Portions of Mark Lane's film "Rush To Judgment" give the impression that Lane is grasping at straws -- any straws he can find -- to prove some peripheral point that MIGHT (in his opinion) lead to the idea of conspiracy in President John F. Kennedy's 1963 assassination.

I like this film for its intriguing and forever-frozen-in-time "Mid-1960s Feel" that it emits from start to finish. But, overall, the film is a weak effort, in my view, to prove that a conspiracy existed in Dallas' Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963.

David Von Pein
February 2005
June 2006