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Secret Honor (1984)

Not Rated | | Drama | 29 January 1986 (France)
A fictionalized former President Richard M. Nixon offers a solitary, stream-of-consciousness reflection on his life and political career - and the "true" reasons for the Watergate scandal and his resignation.

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Storyline

In this speculative one-man drama, we see former President Richard Milhous Nixon alone in his study, dictating his thoughts into a tape recorder. His only company are a four-screen closed-circuit TV setup, the portraits on the walls, a bottle of Chivas Regal - and a loaded pistol. At times addressing an imaginary judge in a court of public opinion, at other times speaking to an aide named Roberto, and sometimes just talking to himself, the former chief executive reflects, in a series of meandering monologues, on his humble Quaker upbringing, his school days, his family and a political career that reached all the way to the White House. Nixon rails at his treatment by the likes of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the "goddam Kennedys," J. Edgar Hoover, Henry Kissinger, Jews, liberals, the media, "East Coast shits," among others, as he leads up to the "true" reasons for the Watergate scandal that resulted in his resignation - an act he regards as one of "secret honor." Written by Eugene Kim <genekim@concentric.net>

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Anyone can BE the President.

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Drama

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Not Rated | See all certifications »

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29 January 1986 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Lords of Treason  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Filmed while Robert Altman was a professor at the University of Michigan. The crew consisted of mostly students of the University who were studying film. Time Out stated the the film was "made with a student crew at the University of Michigan". See more »

Goofs

As President Nixon is speaking, a closeup of the sound meter on the recorder shows that the needle of the meter does not move. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Richard Nixon: Testing, one, two, three, four.
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Connections

Referenced in The Directors: The Films of Robert Altman (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Fragments of Nixon
14 January 2005 | by (Switzerland) – See all my reviews

Any individual is a puzzle, and Richard M. Nixon was no exception, rather living proof. To those who know him and his story (wether through a variety of books or personal experience or even through Oliver Stone's excellent "Nixon") this is a magnificent epilogue that instead of tying all loose threads together, reopens wounds and reformulates old and tired questions.

The film is a mix of fragments of a complex and important life (one that helped shape the modern world) and an equally complex mind. Since only a very long (and impossible, given the obvious budget) running time could grace this with a tight sense of structure, the performance becomes the binding element, which is the key element of this picture. Whether you are interested in history, Nixon himself, character suffering, paranoia, film or acting, this is a must-see, if only for the brilliant performance by Philip Baker Hall. His portrayal of Nixon blows Anthony Hopkins's away in terms of accuracy and is a mighty challenger in terms of acting alone. He may be less sympathetic than Hopkins, but such was one of the real Nixon's flaws (in interviews the real Hall is quite charming!).

Turning a play - especially a one-man-show - into a film is quite a challenge, but Altman, through simple yet effective means (notably the use of security-camera monitors and portraits), cranks up the intimacy and paranoia, ending the film in an uneasy and dark manner that would never be conceivable on stage.

In fewer words, suffice to say that this unusual little film is in truth a giant in movie-making resourcefulness and talent. Unmissable.


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