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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 »
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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:

Anyone can be president. 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

Production Co:

Sandcastle 5 Productions See more »
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

This picture is one of director Paul Thomas Anderson's favorite movies. See more »

Goofs

Even though the real Richard Nixon could play the piano, the real Richard Nixon never learned how to read music. During the part of the film when Richard Nixon is playing his piano sheet music is visible on his piano. It is unlikely that Richard Nixon would have had sheet music on his piano, since he didn't read music. See more »

Quotes

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

 
A Must See
13 November 2004 | by user-38See all my reviews

If you ever get a chance to see this film, grab it! Phillip Baker Hall doesn't simply portray Nixon, he inhabits him. The familiar hunched shoulders and odd poses employed by every Nixon impersonator, in Hall's hands seem less like imitation than brilliant artistic choices, revealing the inner struggles of a remarkable, tormented man. No disrespect to Anthony Hopkins, unquestionably a very talented actor, but his Nixon doesn't hold a candle to Hall's.

This is of course a work of fiction, but like the best fiction it lies in order to reveal a deeper truth. Nixon never made the tape we see him creating through the course of this film, but what is revealed through it is both psychologically and historically honest. The portrait that emerges is unsparing and sympathetic. Nixon emerges as a hero in a Greek tragedy with the same grandeur and the same tragic flaw.

Fans and critics both of Richard Nixon will find their judgements challenged by this complex, revealing portrait. Even someone who has never heard of Nixon couldn't help but be fascinated by this powerful, complex man.

Note to PT Anderson fans: According to Anderson, this was the performance that convinced him he had to work with Hall. It's no accident that Anderson's first full-length film, Sidney (or Hard Eight), was a showpiece for Hall's amazing talent.


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