A final piece in the conspiracists’ shot-from-the-front scenario is that the Zapruder film shows Kennedy’s head snapping sharply to the rear. “(C)onclusive,” says Salandria. To Talbot, the films “reveal more” than the entire Warren Commission report. (Douglass, though, is oddly silent on the films. While his book gives more than four pages to Rose Cheramie and over five to Robert Vinson, he only mentions the films once, and then in an endnote, where he sets forth a belief they were altered to (a) hide the exit wound at the rear of Kennedy’s head and (b) eliminate frames which showed that the Secret Service had stopped the limo to give the assassins an easier target. In the same footnote, he takes the opportunity to cite an authority who believes “Kennedy was shot 6-to-8 times from at least three directions…”, which is as specific as Douglass gets to a theory of who actually shot Kennedy from where.)
Okay, no argument, Kennedy’s head snapped backwards. But what does that mean, exactly? According to experts quoted by Bugliosi, the snap was a neuromuscular response consistent with a bullet striking the rear of his head. And Bugliosi’s analysis of the Zapruder films shows that Kennedy’s head first went forward slightly (2″ approx.) before jerking more strongly to the rear (8 ½”). Given the weight of the bullet as opposed to the weight of Kennedy’s head, this is about the movement forward you would expect prior to the neuromuscular response taking over.
As for the reality of such a response, I haven’t tried this myself, but the next time you’re in line at a movie theater, flick the back of the head of the person ahead of you with your index finger, and see if that head moves towards you or away.
I’m betting “towards.”