IMDb > Secret Honor (1984)
Secret Honor
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Secret Honor (1984) More at IMDbPro »

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Secret Honor -- In Robert Altman's searing interrogation of presidential mystique and unchecked paranoia, a disgraced Richard Milhous Nixon sits sequestered in his home, armed with a bottle of scotch and a gun, to record memoirs that no one will hear.


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Donald Freed (play) &
Arnold M. Stone (play) ...
View company contact information for Secret Honor on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
29 January 1986 (France) See more »
Anyone can BE the President.
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
1 win See more »
(14 articles)
Daily | Altman and Nashville
 (From Keyframe. 11 June 2015, 12:40 PM, PDT)

‘Sweet Movie’ and the body as politics
 (From SoundOnSight. 7 April 2015, 3:58 PM, PDT)

The Past, Present, and Future of Real-Time Films Part Three
 (From SoundOnSight. 17 October 2014, 8:01 PM, PDT)

User Reviews:
a great piece of one-man theater that gets tight, sometimes Bergman-esquire film-making See more (23 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Directed by
Robert Altman 
Writing credits
Donald Freed (play) &
Arnold M. Stone (play)

Donald Freed (screenplay) &
Arnold M. Stone (screenplay)

Produced by
Robert Altman .... producer
Scott Bushnell .... executive producer
Original Music by
George Burt 
Cinematography by
Pierre Mignot 
Film Editing by
Juliet Weber 
Production Design by
Stephen Altman 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Allan F. Nicholls .... assistant director
Sound Department
Andy Aaron .... sound mixer
Paul Coombe .... sound re-recording mixer
Dan Gleich .... boom operator
Bernard Hajdenberg .... sound editor
Camera and Electrical Department
René Daigle .... camera assistant
Joey Forsyte .... electrician
Tom Grunke .... key grip
Jonathan Lumley .... gaffer
Jean Lépine .... camera operator
Editorial Department
Mickey Kaczorowski .... assistant editor
Music Department
Carl St.Clair .... conductor
Other crew
Paul Devlin .... production assistant
Jack Kney .... production assistant
Matthew Seig .... post-production coordinator

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
90 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Actor Philip Baker Hall reprized his role as Richard Nixon which he had originated on stage at the Los Angeles Actors' Theatre in 1983.See more »
Audio/visual unsynchronized: 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 »
[first lines]
Richard Nixon:Testing, one, two, three, four.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in Altman (2014)See more »


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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful.
a great piece of one-man theater that gets tight, sometimes Bergman-esquire film-making, 16 December 2005
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States

Richard Nixon, a man known for many things, amongst which trying to reach out to the "silent majority" of America, while plunging the country further into war and getting into one of the big cover-ups of the nation, is given a character here. It's not necessarily the man altogether, but like Oliver Stone's Nixon, it's an interpretation given a blood-life by way of Donald Freed and Arnold Stone's script (which is maybe the 2nd best thing about the film), Robert Altman's peering, sometimes paranoid, but tight compositions, and Philip Baker Hall. This actor is one of the unsung masters of character acting, even when he sometimes can only just be 'himself' in the roles. Here his inhabitance, more than portrayal, of Nixon captures (as Antony Hopkins did in his own way) the soul of the man dead-on.

It's a one-man film, so that Hall's work here has to be better than top-notch, it has to be engrossing. Nixon as a political being, family man, lawyer, and practically professional liar, are given shape here by his near-movie length confession into a tape recorder. This could be a tricky thing for Altman and Hall to pull off, but for pretty much the entire film they do. One thing I loved was how sometimes Altman would cut-away from his actor and get shots on Nixon on the security monitors installed in his office/room (where he spend the duration of the film in). There were also some very evocative, powerful shots of Hall as Nixon reflected against the window, this being even closer to Nixon- a ghost or some other entity- than Hall.

But in the end, even for all that Altman could do (which is really just to let the camera roll and maybe give Hall a word or two when needed), it is really Hall who has all the credit going for him here. What works best about what he does here is the time he takes, how his acting is made almost like music- he'll speed up, get frustrated/angry/cynical in his own sometimes scrambled recollections of the past, then slow down in self-shame asking to erase parts of the tape (to whomever may be listening, if at all). Here is a man whom in real life was a smart man, but also paranoid to a fault, with as many personal demons as detractors, and who could always be counted on to be pushing forth a lie to the American public. Hall gives him life here, in this "fictional" account as a tortured, flawed, drunken leftover of days gone by. That sometimes it becomes even more moving than expected, and revelatory, makes it all the more clear why it still remains Hall's landmark in his career (among others, like in PT Anderson's films), and that for Altman it's dark, brooding, and like a Bergman film, does NOT make it's doomed subject into a one-dimensional being.

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