At this point—around Christmas 1966—I was, again, about to give up. Then I saw a preview screening of Antonioni’s Blow-Up. As I watched actor David Hemmings studying frame after frame of his roll of film on which he thinks he has caught a murder in progress, I was back in the developing room at Bernie Hoffman’s lab, waiting for the one clear frame to emerge. When Hemmings returned to the park where he had shot his film, I made up my mind to give the Nix film one last try.
I called the RCA man and asked if there were any other companies that could electronically scan the film. He mentioned two: General Electric and Itek. Afraid that General Electric, like RCA, would shy away from the project on the ground that it was too controversial, I decided to try Itek, a firm I had never heard of. It was on Route 128, outside of Boston, the RCA man told me.
Our Boston cameraman set up an appointment with Howard Sprague, assistant to Itek’s president Franklin T. Lindsay. I flew to Boston. Sprague told me that he was very interested in the film and said that Itek would welcome the opportunity to demonstrate publicly the sophisticated techniques it had developed for classified use. Itek would publish its findings; UPI would, I hoped, finally find out just how important our film was.
Sprague, myself, and three types of Itek experts—the optical physicists, the aerial reconnaissance experts, and an ex-policeman—reviewed the film. We all saw the shape on the knoll and everyone agreed that it could be a man with a gun. Frank Lindsay insisted that UPI must promise to delay publication of the results, if the shadow proved to be a man, until he had a chance to inform his friends Ted and Bob Kennedy. The stipulation reflected the shared feeling that the shape was more than a shadow.
I spent three days at Itek taking the eight-millimeter film from investigator to investigator. Some worked form stills Hoffman had made; some made color separations from Nix’s film; others fed it into monitors for scanning.
Since Nix had run from one position to another while filming, the Itek experts were able to triangulate and gauge the depth of the figures and of the car on the knoll. I assigned a photographer in Dallas to take detailed pictures of the knoll and then to write on the film the distances from point to point—from Nix to the knoll, from the corner of the wall to the shadowy shape, and so on. The photographer acquired an aerial survey of the area and the original design plans for the pergola atop the knoll. Itek studied the film, free of charge, from January to May of 1967.
None of Itek’s sophisticated techniques, however, could completely clear away the shadows and tell us definitely what was there. But all the approaches led to one conclusion—the shape that could be taken for a man lacked depth, therefore it must be a shadow. As for the car, it was a car alright, but triangulation indicated that it was not directly behind the pergola wall, as it seemed to be, but back in the parking lot, where it ought to be.
Jack Fox and I flew up to Boston. We wrote a story about the Itek findings. There were no headlines. That week—the week of May 26—Time magazine, alone of the news-weeklies, played up the story. Perhaps Time would continue—and pay for—the investigation elsewhere? I mentioned this to Howard Sprague. He thought it unlikely. It was at this point that he let drop the remark that Time Inc. owned a sizeable chunk—60,000 shares, or roughly 5 percent, I later found out—of Itek, then a very hot stock.
Time Inc.’s interest held up. Dick Billings of Life was assigned to create a story by using Itek to analyze several pictures that had been shot in Dealey Plaza both before and after the assassination and some at the moment of impact but not of Kenney himself. The UPI story on the Itek report had at least tried to establish that the Nix film proved nothing. Life’s story didn’t set out to prove or disprove anything.