The late Abraham Zapruder was a good fellow and family man who, through sheer happenstance and an odd quirk of fate, captured the most famous home movie footage of all time.

But in my heart of hearts I can’t help regretting that Zapruder was the one who happened to be filming from that Dealey Plaza slope on 11.22.63. In my heart of hearts I wish that a more devotional movie nerd had been standing there instead of unexceptional, penny-pinching Abe.

8mm home movie cameras were the default choice for tens of millions of families in the mid 20th Century, but the 8mm images were jumpy and hazy and basically looked like shit compared to 16mm, and Abraham Zapruder KNEW that.

Did Zapruder care about the difference in quality? Above and beyond being a decent man who loved his family, I’ll tell you one thing Abe cared about. Like most responsible-minded fathers and business owners, he cared about SAVING MONEY.

You know who cared much more about visual values and cinematic quality? 17 year old Steven Spielberg, a fledgling filmmaker who in late ‘63 was living in Arizona with his family (and who shot his first feature, Firelight, the following year).

If only Spielberg had somehow made his way to Dallas (a school trip? a special family adventure?) and shot the assassination footage in 16mm color instead of Zapruder with his boilerplate 8mm family-man camera!

On top of which Zapruder’s amateurish eye for framing was atrocious. He allowed the Kennedy limo to sink to the very bottom of the developed image during the low 300 cycle of frames (the final 15 or 20 before the explosive head shot). 85% to 90% of these frames captured almost nothing but green grass and a few spectators.

The truth is that unexceptional, well-meaning Abe almost managed to eliminate JFK and Jackie plus John and Nellie Connolly altogether, but they clung to the bottom of the frame for dear life.

So Zapruder earned two failing grades — one for using a vagueiy shitty 8mm camera when he could have bought and used a vastly superior, professional-grade 16mm device, and the second for exhibiting piss-poor visual framing instincts.

I know this article sounds a bit silly, but imagine what the JFK assassination community would have had to work with if a serious cinema worshipper, a devotional, Gregg Toland-like crazy man with a 16mm Arriflex or Bell & Howell, had been standing in Abe’s shoes.