“Chappaquiddick”  –  8.5


In a word:  CYA

     I know that’s not really one word, but it’s all in the definition, because that’s what the movie was all about: Covering Your Ass.

     What’s good about this docudrama is the authenticity injected by writers and the director. There were many opportunities to suggest or infer sensationalism, sexual activity, or even corruption at the highest levels of government, but the movie makers stuck to the facts as they were known without adding sugar and spice for effect.

     This is a true story about a car accident, the death of a young woman, and a powerful senator who, with the help of his top aides, did all they could to cover the truth. What came across stronger than any other emotion for the viewer, was then reality that the only thing that the self-absorbed senator cared about was himself and his political future.

     Most of us older folks will remember the tragic accident on July 18 of 1969 in which young Mary Jo Kopechne, age 28, died by drowning in a car driven by Senator Ted Kennedy around 11:30 p.m.  Kennedy got out, and swam to shore. Mary Jo perished. In the script, Kennedy relates that he tried to get her out, but in fact, the darkness underwater would have been prohibitive for a rescue.

     Mary Jo was one of several young women partying at a private cottage near Martha’s Vineyard, when the two decided to take a drive. The small bridge to Chappaquiddick Island proved too problematic to cross, and the car went upside down in the water. Yes, Ted Kennedy was known to enjoy his booze. And yes, many folks assumed his motives with Mary Jo were less than moral. But these inferences are not provable.

     The movie was mainly about the panic, the cover-up, the inflated lies and false stories, all designed to establish alibis and excuses for the young senator. The most telling line in the entire movie was uttered by Kennedy himself, after a long arduous swim and walk back to the cottage, and stumbling to meet his friends, one of his protectorates asked, “What in the hell happened to you?”

     Kennedy’s response was not “I had an accident.”  It was not, “Mary Jo drowned in a car.” His response, “I’m not going to be a president.”

     The entire dialogue was centered on covering for Ted Kennedy as best they could. The movie should have been titled, “Me, Myself and I.”

     Even Kennedy’s stroke-suffering father, Joseph Kennedy, (played by Bruce Dern) while planted in a wheelchair, expressed his disdain with Ted Kennedy to his face.

     What’s most remarkable is the ultimate survival of the culprit. Ted Kennedy was not only re-elected into the U.S. Senate by the unwitting voters, he ultimately became the 4th longest serving senator in history.

     Lying pays.

     A shout-out is in order to Brad Anderson for an excellent job of no-nonsense directing. The role of Ted Kennedy is deftly played by Jason Clarke, who actually bore a striking resemblance to the senator in his early years. Mary Jo was played by Kate Mara who has a 20-year career in film. Acting was excellent across the board. One problematic aspect of this story was the lack of focus on the life Mary Jo and her family.

     P.S.  Audiences should take note of the date of this tragedy, which was exactly two days before the 1969 moon landing. Thus, it saved the scandal from being focused as the major headline of the time.

     Well-done.  I give it 8 1/2 out of 10.



  1. Just Me April 16, 2018 at 2:57 pm #

    Born and raised in PA and having lived most of my adult life there, I am acquainted with the coal region where Kopechne lived. At that time, this story was well covered in the news in PA because of the Kopechne family’s roots there.
    I was horrified then and remain sickened yet by the fact that this young woman was abandoned to die. And how anyone could vote for Ted Kennedy for anything after his part in her death is beyond me. Shameful.
    It is reminiscent of how cowardly, self-absorbed leadership abandoned our fellow Americans in Benghazi to be murdered by Muslims and then lied about it after.
    Yet somehow, lame,lying excuses get made for politicians, and some voters just don’t care.
    They don’t care.

  2. Donald April 16, 2018 at 3:32 pm #

    As well known as that tragedy was, it’s always been a mystery to me how or why Edward Kennedy continued to be re-elected. If this movie had been made 40 years ago, the slant would have been much different. The Kennedy brothers simply could do no wrong in Massachusetts. Despite that tragedy Kennedy became a powerful U.S. Senator.

  3. Johnny Weismuller April 16, 2018 at 3:49 pm #

    If Kennedy was a republican you can bet Hollywood would have added all the “sugar and spice.” Deduct 1 point – 71/2.
    A known womanizer leaving a booze party at 11:30 pm with a 28 year young women on a darkened road that led to no explained destination….and we should not infer his motives? The preponderance of the evidence suggests he was horny! Another slime ball coward.
    Provable by a “preponderance of the evidence.” Guilty! Deduct 2 points-

  4. Stu Milisci April 16, 2018 at 6:03 pm #

    I thought I remember that the girl was pregnant.
    Is that a fact and, if so, was that addressed in the movie?

  5. Fred Ingley April 16, 2018 at 10:05 pm #

    *I recall the so called joke which went around shortly after that event.

    Mary Jo, “But Teddy, what happens if I get pregnant?”
    Teddy, “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”

  6. Frank Clifford April 17, 2018 at 1:54 pm #

    You may recall that her parents are accepted $75,000 for a release of liability for their daughters loss of life, a most paltry sum even back then.I wondered then, as I do now, why they did not sue his sorry white Irish ass and at least Drag him through a public spectacle, the Moon landing not withstanding.

    • Paul Vincent Zecchino April 20, 2018 at 1:07 pm #

      Because the kennedys would have destroyed their lives.

      The demshevik/kennedy crime syndicate uses pressure from below, street thugs, and pressure from above in form of Judicial Terrorism, misuse of courts and government force, to demolish anyone who dares stand in their pathway to power and worship.

  7. Snake Hunters April 18, 2018 at 5:16 pm #

    Money & Power Corrupts… and Billionaire Joe Kennedy Was Certainly Miserly…in this

    matter…. with his pocket-change offer of $75,000 to the MaryJo Kopechne family.

    Also, Francis Cardinal Spellman… being the family priest, in the event of a very public

    legal battle… here’s a bit of pious moral support… in Massachusetts. reb

    ___ ___

  8. Snake Hunters April 18, 2018 at 7:52 pm #

    Francis (a cardinal) Spellman was well known as a “WAR HAWK” by the troopers in

    Vietnam… in this grim “NO WIN WAR”…where we had NO U.S. NATIONAL INTEREST,

    and where we lost 58,000 fine young fighting men in 10 years… for No Logical Reason.


    Read Robert S. McNamera’s book ‘IN RETROSPECT’ On the flyleaf the author said:

    “We Were Wrong, Terribly Wrong!”