The Austin Chronicle


Directed by John Mckenzie. Starring Danny Aeillo, Sherilyn Fenn, Arliss Howard.

REVIEWED By Kathleen Maher, Fri., April 3, 1992

Ruby has the look of a cheap knockoff hustled along to cash in on the success of Oliver Stone's JFK. They get the period details right and the cheesy sets go with the movie's cut-rate look and its low-rent world. Unfortunately, this movie has no idea of the truth -- of an objective, historical truth or even an internal, subjective truth. Watching it, I realized how little I know about Jack Ruby, but I have no reason to believe it taught me anything more. In Dallas, at the time, it seemed everyone knew who he was -- a small-time hood -- and they also thought the same of Candy Cane, the famous stripper who started out in his club, The Carousel. The movie take these fragments, finds a few other fragments in Cuba, Chicago and New Orleans, and fits the pieces together for a very ragged looking puzzle. As Candy Cane, Fenn, the beautiful Audrey from Twin Peaks, plays the same sort of pouty innocent. Her performance is a competent Marilyn Monroe impersonation, which probably does have some historical validity but her presence in the movie seems gratuitous and contrived. It's Ruby's story and Aiello gives this shadowy figure humanity, grace and a soul. Unfortunately, the scriptwriters didn't deign to give him a brain, a rationale or much of a life. There are only some romantic and hazy notions that Ruby was a nice man, possibly homosexual, who made friends with strippers, cops and dogs. The movie falls so in love with its sweet protagonist that it tries to make him a real hero. Not to dive into the sinkhole that is assassination speculation, but only two things about Ruby's actions seem likely: either by shooting Oswald he was cleaning up a few loose ends for someone, or he was acting out of grief and some crazy idea of revenge. The movie takes some of Ruby's babbled statements seriously and claims that he shot Oswald to expose the truth. Since this is supposed to be the movie's stunning conclusion, the movie falls flat. Leaving the theatre, the only thing we know is that this conspiracy business makes everyone go nuts.

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