Online Collection

John T. Martin film

Object Number: 2007.028.0001
Category: Films
Photographer: John T. Martin
Type of Object: Film, 8mm
Dimensions: Gauge: 8mm; Camera Speed: 18 fps
Medium: Film
8mm home movie filmed in Dallas and New Orleans in 1963 by student John Martin.

Martin traveled to Dallas in August 1963 and visited Major General Edwin Walker. Walker had recently survived an assassination attempt after a shot was fired through his window in April 1963. Walker was not injured and the assailant was never caught. Eight months later, the widow of accused Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald told investigators her late husband admitted firing that shot.

The first part of Martin’s film shows scenes of the outside of Walker’s house, including the broken window through which the bullet had been fired.

After visiting Dallas, Martin traveled to New Orleans and filmed some local landmarks. On August 9, while walking on Canal Street, he witnessed an altercation among several men, one of whom was handing out pro-Castro "Hands Off Cuba" leaflets. Martin filmed a few seconds of police officers taking the men to squad cars, followed by footage of torn leaflets on the sidewalk.

Not long after the Kennedy assassination when news accounts of Oswald’s background became known, Martin realized one of the men he filmed might have been Lee Harvey Oswald. Martin called the FBI office in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he lived, and agents borrowed his original film in late December 1963. The FBI returned the film to Martin on January 28, 1964.

In a report not published by the Warren Commission, the New Orleans FBI office concluded, “The film obtained by Minneapolis from John Martin was viewed at the New Orleans Office and was found to contain nothing of value to this case.”

Subsequently, more details about the arrest in New Orleans were obtained by FBI and Warren Commission investigators. Oswald, handing out pro-Castro literature, was confronted by three anti-Castro Cuban exiles led by Carlos Bringuier. They objected to Oswald’s actions and tore up his leaflets. When a fight ensued, all four men were arrested and charged with disturbing the peace. Oswald spent the night in jail and bonded out the next day. He later pleaded guilty and was fined $10. The charges against the Cubans were dismissed.

Martin’s film shows Oswald at the left and some of the other three men being led to a police car. Further inspection reveals that the film is not the original, but a copy of a copy, which may account for the poor quality of its images.

Martin says the film now in the Museum’s collection is the film the FBI returned to him in 1964, but inspection shows the film’s date code shows 1977. The film was borrowed by the House Select Committee on Assassinations in the late 1970s and its records are stored at the National Archives (NARA) in College Park, MD. According to NARA, the Martin film is not among those records.
Curator's Notes

This home movie complements two other items in our collection that document this incident in New Orleans a few months before the assassination. Please see also 2013.102.0001 and 2013.088.0003 for a photograph and a document related to this same event. - Lindsey Richardson, Curator of Collections

In addition to distributing the "Hands Off Cuba!" leaflets, on another day Oswald distributed pamphlets titled "The Crime against Cuba" by Corliss Lamont. Lamont was an American socialist and humanist philosopher, and advocate of various left-wing and civil liberties causes, including Fidel Castro and his revolutionary government in Cuba. - Krishna Shenoy, Librarian/Archivist

All requests for permission to reproduce, publish or broadcast materials in this collection must be submitted to the Museum's registrar, using the Rights & Reproductions Request Form. Inquiries may be sent to