1960: John F. Kennedy
The New Frontier
Director: Jack Denove
This cinéma vérite campaign video set the standard for the every subsequent presidential campaign by producing a mini-biography of the running candidate. The film used now familiar documentary techniques, deftly weaving together photographs and narration of Kennedy’s childhood, education, military service and his accomplishments in public office. It outlined his economic and military plans, as well, but more interestingly, he addressed issues to coal miners in West Virginia of whether his Catholicism would interfere with his candidacy.
Kennedy would go on to narrowly win the election over Vice President Richard Nixon — sometimes credited to Kennedy’s more telegenic appearance in the television debates.
Kennedy’s 1960 campaign for the Wisconsin primary was also documented in the classic, groundbreaking Robert Drew-produced documentary, Primary.