An American Affair


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

An American Affair kicks off with an intriguing premise. It's the early 1960s in Washington, D.C. - Camelot time. An eighth grader becomes intrigued by his sexy neighbor when he catches a glimpse of her sitting topless near one of her windows. Aroused and wanting more, he starts to lose sleep by keeping his eyes peeled at all hours of the night for more nudity. He even acquires a pair of binoculars to make the whole premise work a lot more like Rear Window or Body Double, so we begin to suspect he will witness a crime. He does not see any more nudity, nor does he see a crime committed, but he definitely sees something he should not. One night, in the wee hours, the neighbor receives a booty call from none other than President John F. Kennedy!

Some clever writers in a screenwriting competition might be able to create a score of great movies by taking that same premise in twenty different directions. Unfortunately, none of those fellows worked on this film. American Affair soon degenerates into a wild-eyed entry in the JFK assassination genre, and is filled with touches that are downright loony, like the way the young Peeping Tom skulks around familiar Washington landmarks, and hides behind the columns in stately Georgian colonnades, from which vantage he is easily able to eavesdrop on expert CIA spooks. Even loonier is the way he gains possession of a secret diary which proves that the CIA and anti-Castro Cubans killed Kennedy. Good thing this kid wasn't on the Russian payroll.

Meanwhile, the kid's regular parochial school life also continues to move forward and follows the usual path of the "baby boomer coming of age" genre. The film's two genres do not marry happily. It is in the nature of coming-of-age dramas to be realistic and close to the bone, with small details carefully realized. We have to believe the main characters in that genre, which only works properly when we can establish some kind of connection to our own experiences. In that respect, this film fails in spades, because that sort of small, personal story is layered into wacky geopolitics, wackier characters, and still wackier conspiracy theories, resulting in not a single credible moment in the film. There is no element of the film which is free from contrivance and artificiality: not the boy's relationship with his sexy neighbor, not his interaction with his schoolmates, not his interaction with his parents, and especially not his interaction with JFK's killers (who, implausibly enough, include the ex-husband of the sexy neighbor).

My favorite scene? When JFK's assassination is announced on TV, the kid wanders into the apartment of the sexy neighbor. She is absolutely overcome with grief (she loved JFK, as in true love), so the boy does what any of us would do in the same circumstances. He kisses her passionately and grabs her breasts.

No, wait. My favorite scene would actually have to be the finale, when the guys who killed JFK also kill the sexy neighbor because she knows too much, and also burn her diary to tie up all the loose ends. That part of the story was loosely inspired by the life of Mary Meyer, a real Washingtonian who had an affair with JFK and was killed within a year of Kennedy's death. Those plot twists could have seemed sensible if the film been a pure political thriller, but the script also had to wrap up the coming-of-age portion of the plot. In order to accomplish that, the author had the CIA spooks simply leave the 13-year-old kid alone with the neighbor's dead body, even though he had read the diary and knew that the CIA killed both his fantasy woman and the President of the United States.

Oh, and did I mention that both of the kid's parents were prize-winning investigative journalists?

Yeah, I guess the CIA wrapped that right up, just like a present under this crazy Christmas tree we call life.


* widescreen anamorphic








17 Rotten Tomatoes  (% positive)
31 (of 100)


5.6 IMDB summary (of 10)
A- Yahoo Movies


Box Office Mojo. It played in two theaters in the entire United States, and grossed a whopping $28,000. Just shy of blockbuster status.



  • Gretchen Mol is topless.



Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


A great idea and a great first few minutes, but ultimately worth seeing only for Gretchen Mol, who is charming in and out of her clothing. It is not as bad as indicated by the 17% at RT, but certainly not as good as indicated by the A- at Yahoo Movies.