JFK's Road to the White House: Primary 1960

JFK's Road to the White House: Primary 1960


In 1960 journalist Robert Drew followed the young Senator John F Kennedy and Senator Hubert Humphrey over a week, filming everything they did on a hand-held camera as they campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination in Wisconsin. It was the first time this technique had been used and the result, with no music or commentary, is a revealing and candid portrait. It’s a far cry from the carefully crafted campaigns and scripted sound bites of contemporary politicians.
The grainy black-and-white footage captures perfectly how the squealing crowds mobbed the charismatic JFK as if he were a Hollywood film star
and neatly contrasts it with the down-home appeal of his opponent. There are unintentionally funny moments, too, including when supporters are requested to refrain from smoking for 20 minutes during a rally because “a lady has complained her dress has been burned by a cigar”.


Fly-on-the-wall documentary on US President John F Kennedy, during the climax of his 1960 Wisconsin primary run against Hubert Humphrey. Director Robert Drew proposed tracking the future leader with a revolutionary, small camera, day and night for nearly a week. It captured JFK's rock-star presence, and granted viewers unprecedented access into the world of a young politician and his glamorous wife, as they campaigned across the region's landscape, building dramatic tension as the candidates awaited the ballot.