The peak of "Prince Jack" comes right at the beginning, when documentary footage of the 1960 Democratic convention is accompanied by Frank Sinatra singing a paean to John F. Kennedy to the tune of "High Hopes."

This kind of kitsch is what makes politics worthwhile, as is the JFK birthday party at Madison Square Garden (also documented in the film) in which Marilyn Monroe, wearing what purports to be an evening gown, coos "Happy Birthday" to the president.

Otherwise, it's hard to imagine a project more pointless than a docudrama about Jack Kennedy. This is territory that's been covered more than once on television, and after all, once you've seen Martin Sheen as Bobby Kennedy yowling for a chicken leg during the Cuban missile crisis, there's nowhere to go but down.

Which is exactly where "Prince Jack" goes.

The film, which traces Kennedy (Robert Hogan) from the convention through the missile crisis, is full of "behind-the-scenes" conversations between the president and Bobby (James F. Kelly), his dad (Lloyd Nolan), Lyndon Johnson (Kenneth Mars) and Martin Luther King Jr. (an improbably cast Robert Guillaume), none of which seems anything but phony.

It would be enlightening to find out exactly what powerful people do for all the money we pay them, but you won't find it out in "Prince Jack."

What you get instead is a lot of windy debates about dead policy issues, the usual whiff of scandal, lousy cinematography, a routine, "Mission: Impossible"-style score (by the usually excellent Elmer Bernstein), and some horrendous acting, particularly on the part of Hogan. He's always jamming his jaw into his face, as if he'd just lost the lower half of his bridgework, and his attempt at a Kennedy accent tends to lapse into a bad impersonation of Jimmy Cagney. Ask not what your country can do for you . . . You dirty rat.