7.3/10
2,486
25 user 38 critic

Secret Honor (1984)

Not Rated | | Biography, Comedy, 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.

Director:

Robert Altman

Writers:

Donald Freed (play), Arnold M. Stone (play) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Philip Baker Hall ... Richard Nixon
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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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Richard Nixon could have been America's greatest president. Several things got in his way. See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Criterion Collection

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 January 1986 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Lords of Treason See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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. 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.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Secret Honor: Philip Baker Hall (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Interesting monologue from an American mystery...
6 March 2006 | by waywardastronautSee all my reviews

Any comments about this film should be prefaced by a simple, undeniable fact: Despite the genius and talent of Robert Altman, this film succeeds solely on the shoulders of Philip Baker Hall. Sure, he looks and sounds absolutely nothing like Richard Nixon, but any discerning viewer quickly realizes that it doesn't matter. Hall embodies the role, inhabiting every paranoid quirk and arrogant mannerism of our 36th president; and as the film's only star, it's a 90-minute testament to his skill and abilities. (In my opinion, Hall is the most underrated actor in Hollywood today, by far.) With that said, I would much rather see "Secret Honor" as a play, which is how it was originally written. This doesn't mean that Altman's adaptation is bad; on the contrary, it's one of the finest pieces of cinema I've seen in some time, and definitely one of Altman's best. But the director's constant focus on props takes away from any emotional investment we're supposed to feel. Still, I give this 9 stars out of 10--I highly recommend it to anyone interested in different forms of film-making.

PS: Anyone who claims this film is politically misguided missed the point entirely--it's not meant to be a political observation or satire, but only a way of understanding. Nixon left us with so many questions and so few answers, this so far is our only way of trying to comprehend...


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