Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment–Robert Drew Political Documentary

Robert Drew directed Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment, a political cinéma vérité documentary.

The feature deals with on the University of Alabama’s “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” integration crisis of June 1963.

Drew and the other filmmakers, including D. A. Pennebaker and Richard Leacock, were granted access to key areas, including US President John F. Kennedy’s Oval Office and the homes of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and Alabama Governor George Wallace.

The film first aired on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) as an installment of Close-Up! four months after the incident on October 28, 1963.

It was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress on December 28, 2011.

During a two-day period before and after the University of Alabama integration crisis, the film uses five camera crews to follow President Kennedy, attorney general Robert F. Kennedy, Alabama governor George Wallace, deputy attorney and the students Vivian Malone and James Hood.

When Wallace promised to personally block the two black students from enrolling in the university, the Kennedy administration discusses the best way to react to it, without rousing the crowd or making Wallace a martyr for the segregationist cause.


I am grateful to TCM for showing this documentary on March 3, 2020.