Online Collection
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Tina Towner Film

Object Number: 2015.009.0007
Category: Films
Photographer: Tina Towner
Type of Object: Film, 8mm
Dimensions: Gauge: 8mm Camera Speed: approximately 18 fps
Medium: FIlm, FIlm
Description
8mm color home movie taken by Tina Towner in Dealey Plaza November 22, 1963, before and after President Kennedy was shot.

The assassination sequence of this home movie shows the presidential limousine turning from Houston Street into the middle lane of Elm Street in Dealey Plaza. President and Mrs. Kennedy are clearly visible in the back seat of the limousine. Crowds of people line the streets as the limousine turns the corner from Houston Street to Elm Street. First the Dal-Tex Building is visible behind the limousine, then the Texas School Book Depository. The camera follows the limousine as it travels down Elm Street until it reaches the pergola on the north side of Dealey Plaza. Tina Towner stopped filming when she could no longer see the Kennedys' faces. Shots were fired right after Towner stopped filming. She started filming again a few minutes later, this time capturing footage of a bus, van, and several cars traveling west on Elm Street, and people running up the grassy knoll and through the pergola. Assassination witnesses Phil and Marilyn Willis, their daughters Linda and Rosemary, and Marilyn's parents Mr. and Mrs. Stubblefield, can be seen standing on the grass on the north side of Elm Street.

The full Towner film reel begins with 1963 footage of Towner family members in the backyard of their home in Oak Cliff, Tina and her father in a Lubbock, Texas motel swimming pool, amateur geologist Jim Towner with his rock collection, the front yard of the Towner home, and Tina's sister Nancy driving off to college.

The original film stock of the Towner film was manufactured by the 3M Corporation and marketed by Sears under its Tower brand.

The video attached to this record is an excerpt. The entire film is available in our Reading Room to on-site researchers or by submitting a Rights & Reproductions Request Form.
Curator's Notes

The true speed of this film remains elusive.  It appears that when it is projected at the 1963 industry standard of 18 frames per second (fps), some sequences appear to move slightly more slowly than normal.  When projected at 20 fps, all scenes seem to look normal.  Unlike the Zapruder, Nix and Marie Muchmore cameras that filmed the assassination, the Towner camera was never measured - or even known about - during the original 1963-1964 investigation.  It may be possible to make the camera run a little faster by holding down the "Run" button too close to the "Slow Motion" button (slow motion requires the camera to run at a faster-than-normal rate).

The Towner film shown here comes from a high-resolution full-frame digital scan made by the Library of Congress in 2011 for the National Geographic Channel program JFK: The Lost Bullet.  The scan was digitally adjusted for color balance and brightness, scratch removal and to obtain a running speed of 20 fps. 

The original film stock was manufactured by the 3M Corporation and marketed by Sears under its Tower brand.  By 2011, the film's emulsion was cracked and scratched after years of projection.  Those marks were digitally removed.  The auto-exposure feature of the camera may not have been operating correctly in 1963 for the entire film is under-exposed, making all of the scenes darker than they should be.  All adjustments were made using Digital ICE (Digital Image Correction and Enhancement), a proprietary process of the Kodak Corporation. - Gary Mack, Curator

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 registrar@jfk.org.