|Index||5 reviews in total|
This mini-series is the quintessence of the entire Watergate story. It lasts 8 hours in 2-hour pieces (with commercials). John Dean was the person who was at the very heart of the cover-up. The movie is based upon his book, also titled "Blind Ambition". The book is seen by most historians as the exhaustive presentation of all the incidents surrounding the break-in and the cover-up. This is riveting, and gives full portraits of the 20 or so characters who were the players in the Watergate story.
why hasn't this movie been released for home? I'd like my sons to see it as I recall it as the quintessential story of my times. The story of Dean, his nerdy presentation to Sam Ervin ( when in fact he was a slick player, with Porsche and fast ladies) was so self serving. The jacks boots Haldeman and Erlichman other guy were caricatures. I'll never forget Haldeman:"availing himself of his right to statement" to Ervin's committee. And then the pompous self righteous pap that follows, so close to the real delivery I saw live on the committee hearings live. Jeez, this is great theater I'd really like to share with my boys. Oh well, maybe soon. You never know. That's for sure.All in all a great piece of work that should be seen by many.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There is a certain, kind of hidden, magic in this work. Let me see.
It's a TV drama, which approaches the precise documentary, about one of the most important events that convulsed America in the 20th century. The thing is it is so detailed, so frank, and so declared as well (unlike the J.F.K assassination for instance where most of the talk is still hypothetical). So, instead of reading many books, this movie will give you a fine and deep view to the crises that assured many things one of them was that the democratic system isn't born perfect.
At deep layer, this is where the American president is being attacked, and by assured facts. I think that was a first, talking about living one at the moment. True that Nixon wasn't on the chair in 1979, but the promulgation itself was historical, which makes this drama, aside from its artistic evaluation or else, a bold precedent for generations to come, where dealing with the matters will be more and more objective, and let's not say paranoid.
At deeper layer, this is a story about a man with a sleepless conscience, who lives torturing and tortured. John Dean here must make you recall Sir Thomas More, yet with being a guilty one who seeks the purgation at any cost, while fighting being a scapegoat as well. You'll learn a lot from this respectable character who his ambition pushed him too far, then came to his senses to face such a painful and long way just to say the whole truth, without looking like coward informer or hurting the others, simply doing the right thing, in a right way, while everything is sunk in wrong. Still his struggle, patience, and integrity are inspiring; and that's one of the highest points this work could deliver.
It tried to be accurate and human to the last limit. There were many good details along the way particularly through the wife's memories. In fact here the word dramatic wasn't clearer. Life, in so many ways, is more interesting than any movie or TV series I can tell you that, or let this mini-series does!
But nothing is perfect. It's based basically on John Dean's book, and his wife Maureen's one. While that gave us good general view for the man's work and home, it sort of deprived us of seeing other perspectives. Therefore there were too many characters that we hear about or see swiftly but never know well.
Since the whole thing takes place in closed offices or flats, dealing with political damn staid characters, it avoided woodenness by adding in limited manner some lovely lines and light moments; I liked how the character of Dean's lawyer (Charles Shaffer) was written, and performed by the great (Ed Flanders); as this was one hell of a relief. But even despite the shortness of the scenes overall it glided to be a TV work, with the sort of bad sense of the word, by conventional shots and monotonous cutting, without much of artistic handling sometimes.
True (Rip Torn) did a fine job, being the serious joke that Nixon is in this movie, but I have a problem with (Martin Sheen). Yes, he relatively pulled off performing a ticking bomb of a man, who's trying to be coherent while living a completely fallen world, being torn between the president's lawyer who's supposed to enjoy a glossy life, and the ideal lawyer who got to take the first one and his client all down. But (Sheen) was so provocative; having the looks of a waxy statue, too-sleek-it's-glassy face, never messy hair, and mostly I can't stand his delivery. (Theresa Russell) got on my nerves sometimes. She was more like a walking corpse, with so thin body, pale face and killer yellow hair. And it wasn't the matter of the looks only as her performance wasn't as strong as what I waited, yet I can't blame her wholly. If you looked closer you would discover that the characterization of the lead's wife, as well as its storyline, were both the weakest factor in this script. In times (Russell) was mourning, skeptic of cheating, in denial, happy, affectionate. In others she looked clueless. And in the rest she was just dead. Simply there was no turning point for her from the disbelief of the burning tragedy to the acceptance of her husband's crusade.
Though, it's close to perfect. The music was elegizing a beaten probity in great grief. Some dialog and direction were high and classy. Look at extremely painful scene with Dean and some barber who innately loves and believes the president, wanting all the evil in the world for that liar Dean. It's the man in the street's viewpoint which Dean, bitterly cynical, remarks at it, the unusual truth, along with his hairdo, saying "Unbelievable" ! Moreover, a scene in which Dean and his wife are invited in Camp David, having dinner on the president's expense, while being both besieged by his servants in a embellished yet dark and narrow dinner room. This short scene gets a lot of meanings later when you know about how the president was aware of the Watergate thing from the start.
There is an effective sense of sadness growing underneath the surface. Maybe due to the moral butchery that it shows (a man who knew a crime and hesitated to speak, framing a partly innocent man to hide high fully criminal ones, deceiving a nation by covering the truth, an elected president who uses his power to be above the law..).
(Blind Ambition) is a classic piece of art. It finds a good finale for itself with the lead not answering the hot question : "Will Watergate happen again ?!" since the blind ambition, that made it, is as present as the human being.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
US domestic policy was completely shaken up in the 1970's by what was happening in South-East Asia, and of course by the Watergate-scandal. This TV series is an account of the latter, mainly based on the book "Blind Ambition" of John Wesley Dean III, one of the key figures of that episode. This production also was based on the autobiography "Mo" written by his wife Maureen
After some years in the Justice Department, Dean was asked to join the White House Staff as a counsel to the President while still being in his early thirties. We see his gradual rise on "Macho Mountain" as he called it. Although he is a counsel to the President, he hardly has any direct contact with the "P", until the Watergate Scandal erupted. Then, things radically changed. Dean became a kind of Hans Brinker,putting his fingers in the dike whenever water started to threatened to drown the President. In the end however, there were too many holes for only 10 fingers. When Investigators and the press started to close in on Nixon, Chief of Staff Haldeman and Domestic Affairs Adviser Ehlrichman tried to protect their King by throwing Dean to the wolves, sacrificing him like a pawn. Dean however was far too well acquainted with those kind of political chess board tactics, not to see the danger. His loyalty to the President had its limits: he refused to become a scapegoat. He hired a very expensive but skillful criminal lawyer, and started to fight back against his former employer, the President of the USA.
Watergate was a far more complicated story than the "third rate burglary" White House press attaché Ziegler suggested it was. There also was the break in in the offices of D. Ellsberg's psychiatrist, the childish dirty tricks D. Segretti was inventing to cause confusion and havoc in the Democratic Party, the attempts to tamper with documents to make it look like JFK ordered the murder of Vietnamese president Diem, etc. A story with a bunch of rather colorful figures à la Liddy with his bizarre Gemstone-charts and his Love Boat-project (see below), CIA-man and spy novelist Hunt, shady anti-Castro Cubans, well dressed men carrying attaché cases with tens of thousands of dollars of hush money... You'll meet them all in this interesting TV series. So, I do not really agree with one of the reviewers here, who wrote that watching this TV series makes it unnecessary to read 2O books about Watergate. If you are only moderately interested in politics, and haven't the slightest idea about who Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell, Ziegler, Colson, Gordon Liddy, Howard E Hunt, Donald Segretti & Co. were, you won't be able to understand the complicated storyline. A storyline that follows the real events, or at least, the story as told by John Dean. But then again, the same is true for other Watergate movies like "All the President's men" and "The final days".
I therefore would recommend the viewer to first read at least one good book on Watergate, or at least some Wikipedia fact sheets. Drawing up a short "Who was who during Watergate" also certainly helps, if you want to enjoy these interesting but complicated movies.
Also, always keep in mind that not all participants in the Watergate Scandal agree with Dean's version of the facts. Gordon Liddy for ex. has a very different recollection of what happened in the early 1970's. He also got into a serious legal battle with Dean, when he started to claim that Maureen Dean had been part of a call girl ring. But then again, Liddy probably never forgave Dean for having made fun of him during his dry and serious exposé of his strange Gemstone plan. Liddy also wanted to hire a boat and to change it into a floating bordello with the intention of blackmailing well known Democrats. When he told his small audience that the broads he had in mind could be well trained for the job, and that he knew "from first hand experience" that they were not stupid, Dean couldn't resist bursting into laughter because of Liddy's unlucky way of expressing what he meant. Liddy pleaded guilty after Watergate, and insisted on staying in prison until the last day of his 55 months sentence to show the world his loyalty. He considered Dean to be disloyal and a traitor.
Also, not all events are explained very well in "Blind ambition". For example, who the heck is the French "madame" Dean is "visiting" while in Paris: how did he know her, and what is her exact role in the Watergate scandal ? She seems to be very well informed and interested about the political events taking place in Washington.
I don't think Sheen did a bad job as an actor in this TV series. However, when you compare his looks with those of the real Dean, you really wonder why he was selected for this role. Sometimes he rather looks like James Dean than like John Wesley Dean in this movie. Why not having given the role of Maureen Dean to let's say Farah Fawcett then, it would have been equally illogical.
Frankly, I also had expected a more hyper-kinetic, mean looking Chief of Staff Haldeman, snapping orders at the speed of a Gatling gun, and picking in everyone's feathers all the time. In stead we got a relatively nice version of "the Brush" as he was known in those days. I also expected a far more cynical Domestic Affairs Assistant Ehrlichman, underlining systematically his dissatisfaction about the bunglers surrounding him by raising one eyebrow as he was known to do. However, the pipe-smoking actor portraying Chief Justice Mitchell really was a cool Doppelgänger !
Except for those little flaws, a very good movie, but only recommended for people interested in political scandals, American history, law students, future journalists etc.
I though that martin sheen did very well as John Dean
The movie was well done as i remember and would like to see this movie again.
The movie show that power can do strange things to any one.
The movie followed the book and i would like to see this movie again
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|