The year is 1963. The month is November. The city is Dallas. The President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, is coming to visit and two very different men have very different reactions. An eccentric and lonely strip club owner, Jack Ruby (Michael Lerner), worries about an anti-Kennedy ad that has just appeared in the Dallas Morning News. Another loner, a strange man named Lee Harvey Oswald (Frederic Forrest), is busy making plans of his own. When Kennedy is assassinated, history brings Ruby and Oswald together in a way that a shattered nation will never forget.
This is a curious one. It was made for television and, according to Wikipedia, its original running time was 180 minutes. The version that I saw, on VHS, was barely 90 minutes long so obviously, the version I saw was heavily edited. (In the 70s, it was common for made-for-TV movies to be reedited for both syndication and overseas theatrical release.) Maybe that explains why Ruby and Oswald felt do disjointed. In the version I saw, most of the emphasis was put on Jack Ruby running around Dallas and getting on people’s nerves. Very little time was devoted to Oswald and the film was almost entirely stolen by Lerner. Michael Lerner is a familiar character actor. You may not know his name but you will definitely recognize his face. Lerner was convincing and sometimes even sympathetic as the weaselly Ruby. Ruby and Oswald supported the Warren Commission’s findings, that Oswald killed Kennedy and Ruby shot Oswald out of a sense of loyalty to Jackie Kennedy. Michael Lerner’s performance was so good that he almost made that theory plausible.
One final note, for fans of WKRP in Cincinnati: Gordon Jump and Richard Sanders, best known as Arthur Carlson and Les Nessman, were both in Ruby and Oswald, though they did not share any scenes together.