A look at the life of Alfred Kinsey, a pioneer in the area of human sexuality research, whose 1948 publication "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" was one of the first recorded works that saw science address sexual behavior.
Director Oliver Stone's exploration of former president Richard Nixon's strict Quaker upbringing, his nascent political strivings in law school, and his strangely self-effacing courtship of his wife, Pat. The contradictions in his character are revealed early, in the vicious campaign against Helen Gahagan Douglas and the oddly masochistic Checkers speech. His defeat at the hands of the hated and envied John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election, followed by the loss of the 1962 California gubernatorial race, seem to signal the end of his career. Yet, although wholly lacking in charisma, Nixon remains a brilliant political operator, seizing the opportunity provided by the backlash against the antiwar movement to take the presidency in 1968. It is only when safely in office, running far ahead in the polls for the 1972 presidential election, that his growing paranoia comes to full flower, triggering the Watergate scandal. Written by
In an interview with "Premiere" magazine, Oliver Stone outlined many elements of Richard Nixon's life and political decisions that informed his film. Amongst other things, Richard Nixon's reserved personality was largely a function of the death of his beloved older brother Harold; Nixon grieved over the deaths of John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy while also being aware he would have lost the 1964 Presidential election to JFK (if it had taken place) and the 1968 race to RFK; he recognized that the U.S. was going to enter an era of less prosperity and tried to end the Cold War for that reason; he was "lonely, isolated, kind of mad"; and ultimately he was both victim and villain. See more »
Numerous scenes throughout the movie feature President Nixon seated or standing in front of a crackling log fire, particularly in the scene where he talks to the portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Although in each scene real logs can be heard crackling, hissing, and popping, as real wood will do, close-ups of the fire reveal it to be a "fake" natural gas fireplace, with artificial logs that are "burning" evenly and cleanly with a vertical flame, and no smoke or embers coming off them. See more »
In an overall solid cast, Anthony Hopkins shines in a powerful performance as Richard Nixon in this Oliver Stone film tracing the former president's life from his boyhood in California to his resignation as U.S. President in 1974.
Nixon is seen as a troubled figure, insecure and paranoid, with few friends. An unhappy childhood, in which he refers to himself as his mother's "faithful dog," in fact does dog him his whole life, as he seeks to please a demanding ultra-religious mother (Mary Steenburgen)who had already died by the time he took office as President, but whose memory and expectations lived on. Nixon is burdened with an unhappy marriage to Pat (Joan Allen) - unhappy largely because of his own obsession with political success - and haunted by the ghost of John Kennedy, who defeated him for the presidency in 1960 and who Nixon could never live up to. Kennedy was loved; Nixon was hated - he could never get over that. A scene near the end of the movie demonstrates his feelings toward JFK as he looks at Kennedy's White House portrait: "They look at you and see what they want to be; they look at me and see who they are."
Although the movie - as any review of Nixon's life will - revolves around Watergate, it provides a fascinating summary of his life, and of what added up to make him the troubled and lonely figure he really was. There's also typical Oliver Stone material as dark hints of conspiracy extending far beyond Watergate are inserted. Perhaps the most unsettling being a meeting Nixon has shortly before JFK's assassination with some supporters in Texas who are trying to convince him to run for the presidency again in 1964. Nixon protests that Kennedy can't be beaten in '64. A Cuban American present says ominously "What if Kennedy doesn't run in '64?"
A truly fascinating portrayal of a fascinating man, even in the end somewhat sympathetic to Nixon as the film ends with his 1994 funeral service, some comments at that service by President Clinton and a summary of his career by a narrator pointing out his accomplishments. A last note: kudos to Paul Sorvino, who hit Henry Kissinger bang on.
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