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".
The film was made and first released during the U.S. American Presidency of President Ronald Reagan. Both Reagan and Richard Nixon were Republicans. Reagan was approximately half way through his two terms as U.S. American President when the film premiered. Like Nixon with Watergate, Reagan became involved in his own major political scandal, the Iran-Contra Affair. It is also known as Irangate, Contragate, and The Iran-Contra Scandal [See: Cover Up: Behind the Iran Contra Affair (1988)].
The Criterion Collection DVD features as a dvd extra bonus eighty-one minutes of archival material film excerpts from the Republican political career of President Richard Nixon. Moreover, as another dvd extra bonus on the Criterion Collection release, there is also included a new twenty-two minute video interview with actor Philip Baker Hall who played Nixon in this movie.
This picture was made and first released in 1984 which was about a decade after the Watergate Scandal. Republican President Richard Nixon resigned at the Oval Office in the White House on the evening of 8th August 1974. This film premiered about one decade and one month and one week exactly after the resignation, at the Toronto International Film Festival, on 15th September 1984.
Director Robert Altman was known, apart from other things like black comedy, for ensemble casts and movies with multiple small parts such as Nashville (1975), The Player (1992) and Short Cuts (1993) amongst others. Secret Honor (1984) was the exact opposite of this having a cast of just one person.
The film's opening prologue reads: "This work is a fictional meditation concerning the character of and events in the history of Richard M. Nixon [Richard Nixon], who is impersonated in this film. The dramatist's imagination has created some fictional events in an effort to illuminate the character of President Nixon. This film is not a work of history - or a historical recreation. It is a work of fiction, using as a fictional character a real person, President Richard M. Nixon - - in an attempt to understand."
Of the film's digital restoration, the movie's the Criterion Collection DVD sleeve notes state: "Secret Honor is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1:33:1. On widescreen televisions, black bars will appear on the left and right of the image to maintain the proper screen format. This new high-definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine from a 16mm Interpositive. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, and scratches were removed using the MTI Digital Restoration System. The soundtrack was mastered at a 24-bit from the optical soundtrack negative, and audio restoration tools were used to reduce clicks, pops, hiss, and crackle. The Dolby Digtial I.0 signal will be directed to the center channel on 5.I-channel sound systems, but some viewers may prefer to switch to two-channel playback for a wider dispersal of the mono sound".