And Then You Destroy Yourself: Nixon at the Movies

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I realize there are other Nixon movies and other Nixons--Rip Torn, Dan Hedaya, etc. But these are the two most ambitious, the two that really aspire to a kind of Our Nixon grand statement.

Poll Results

OptionVotes
1. Oliver Stone's <i>Nixon</i> 4
2. Robert Altman's <i>Secret Honor</i> 3


clemenza, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 00:52 (nine years ago) Permalink

Depending upon how many people have actually seen Secret Honor, I'm pretty sure it would win handily; Altman's much more revered, it's the more conceptually audacious film (if you believe Stone's more or less redoing JFK), it's got a better backstory, etc. I'm a bigger Altman fan myself. But I just watched Secret Honor for maybe the first time since its initial release, and I think it's somewhat overrated; Nixon I've seen five or six times now, and some obvious flaws notwithstanding, I think it's even more underrated.

clemenza, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 01:02 (nine years ago) Permalink

Secret Honor IS overrated, and Hopkins has a couple of effective moments, but the best onscreen Nixon is still Glenda Jackson in Nasty Habits.

vulva eyes (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 16 September 2009 01:19 (nine years ago) Permalink

search: reese witherspoon in 'election'

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Wednesday, 16 September 2009 01:51 (nine years ago) Permalink

Have only seen both when they came out, preferred Stone.

A Patch on Blazing Saddles (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 16 September 2009 05:02 (nine years ago) Permalink

anybody read "nixon at the movies"?

interview with author about his viewing habits
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4254289

velko, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 09:26 (nine years ago) Permalink

yeah I read it. not quite as interesting/provocative as the title suggests but worth a look for nixon obsessives and fans of pauline kael style movie criticism.

chief rocker frankie crocker (m coleman), Wednesday, 16 September 2009 09:59 (nine years ago) Permalink

FWIW I'd recommend the recent "frost & nixon" over those bio-pics

chief rocker frankie crocker (m coleman), Wednesday, 16 September 2009 10:01 (nine years ago) Permalink

http://www.pophistorydig.com/?tag=richard-nixon-1968

velko, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 10:07 (nine years ago) Permalink

I love Kael, find Nixon endlessly fascinating, yet I gave up on Nixon at the Movies after 75 pages or so...I just found the guy went round and round and never really went anywhere; that was a few years ago, so maybe I should try again.

clemenza, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 12:20 (nine years ago) Permalink

Try it again; I quite enjoyed it, esp. the Elvis chapter.

vulva eyes (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 16 September 2009 13:09 (nine years ago) Permalink

FWIW I'd recommend the recent "frost & nixon" [sic] over those bio-pics

This film was a fraudulent piece of sentimental shit.

A Patch on Blazing Saddles (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 16 September 2009 15:53 (nine years ago) Permalink

There's a play called Nixon's Nixon, two characters, Nixon and Kissinger, on the night before Nixon resigns, and, when it's done well, it's hilarious.

Squash weather (Eazy), Wednesday, 16 September 2009 15:56 (nine years ago) Permalink

^saw the orig off-Broadway production, good indeed.

A Patch on Blazing Saddles (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 16 September 2009 15:59 (nine years ago) Permalink

huge Altman fan and Nixon obsessive that I am, its weird that I've never gotten around to watching Secret Honor. Stone's movie is a hoot, but kinda minor

Hat Trick Swayze (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 16 September 2009 17:37 (nine years ago) Permalink

no "Dick" no credibility

Batsman (Jimmy The Mod Awaits The Return Of His Beloved), Wednesday, 16 September 2009 17:48 (nine years ago) Permalink

I don't know how I forgot to mention Nixon/Frost in the original post...Unfair, probably, but I decided I didn't want to see it. Not a Ron Howard fan, and I've got the original interviews on tape; I knew there was no way in the world they could ever duplicate the amazing long zoom into Nixon as he more or less (more less than more) apologizes at the end of the first interview. I didn't really care for Dick; much prefer Election.

clemenza, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 18:13 (nine years ago) Permalink

Both of these movies are cartoony chores

da croupier, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 18:41 (nine years ago) Permalink

I can't even enjoy Nixon on a goofy JFK-level, aside from the Bob Hoskins cameo and some ridiculously blunt visual metaphors, maybe

da croupier, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 18:47 (nine years ago) Permalink

ah come on, Woods as Haldemann is hilarious. The scene where the doorknob comes off the door in the oval office and they can't find their way out = classssick

Hat Trick Swayze (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 16 September 2009 18:51 (nine years ago) Permalink

maybe if they'd hadn't cast an actor with less charisma than the actual president

da croupier, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 18:54 (nine years ago) Permalink

I mean when you finally see the guy grinning during the credits (with Stone rushing through narration over them - lol), you're like "wow, what a pleasant dude" after 3 hours of Hopkins huffing and puffing

da croupier, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 18:55 (nine years ago) Permalink

nixon is prob one of the hardest roles to play in the world, so hats off to anyone who actually attempts it.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Thursday, 17 September 2009 04:31 (nine years ago) Permalink

Rip Torn & Jason Robards (both TV) to thread

A Patch on Blazing Saddles (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 17 September 2009 12:31 (nine years ago) Permalink

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Sunday, 20 September 2009 23:01 (nine years ago) Permalink

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Monday, 21 September 2009 23:01 (nine years ago) Permalink

three years pass...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYWQJKgbo_w

clemenza, Wednesday, 1 May 2013 02:21 (five years ago) Permalink

I will watch the shit out of this

four Marxes plus four Obamas plus four Bin Ladens (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 21:00 (five years ago) Permalink

Good link, J.D. Nixon's writings, by and large terrible and otiose with the strain of lying, certainly don't show an "engaged" mind though.

A deeper shade of lol (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 1 May 2013 21:32 (five years ago) Permalink

Surprise, surprise, I liked Our Nixon. It basically follows the standard timeline, from inauguration through to the resignation of Haldeman and Enrlichman, but it moves along casually, and it never feels like events are being ticked off a checklist. Nixon doesn't fulminate much--there are phone calls with Haldeman where he sounds bemused by events, and even one, after a Vietnam television address, where he sounds stoical. (And another, right after Haldeman's resignation, where he's almost certainly been drinking.) The one time he really gets going, on All in the Family and Greek philosophers, is something. There's a bit with the Ray Conniff Singers that moves from a funny introduction by Nixon--no lie--to a fairly stunning moment that I don't recall ever reading about. The highlight for me was a brilliant choice for the opening-credit music. It's not just a great song (not period music), it lays out the entire film in a way that makes perfect sense.

clemenza, Sunday, 5 May 2013 23:26 (five years ago) Permalink

I would like to stoically amend "stoical" to "stoic."

clemenza, Sunday, 5 May 2013 23:41 (five years ago) Permalink

interesting piece on that ray conniff singer protest - http://comcast.rayconniff.info/media/nixon.html

balls, Monday, 6 May 2013 00:06 (five years ago) Permalink

That's it--the piece even includes Nixon's joke. I'm positive I'd never come across this in any of the Nixon books I've read, including Ambrose's.

clemenza, Monday, 6 May 2013 00:09 (five years ago) Permalink

i know i came across it somewhere cuz as soon as you mentioned it i remembered the banner and that somehow they still did a tune w/ her. also remember thinking 'jesus, even the ray conniff singers did a protest???'. strange that there's so so many moments like that (mad men had paul newman's mccarthy endorsement last week) during that era and for the bush era the only comparable things i can think of are kanye and stephen colbert. maybe michael moore at the oscars i guess.

balls, Monday, 6 May 2013 00:24 (five years ago) Permalink

pretty sure the Ray Conniff thing was in Nixonland?

Pope Rusty I (Dr Morbius), Monday, 6 May 2013 00:29 (five years ago) Permalink

Maybe it passed my attention in print--seeing the actual clip is amazing. (Surprised Stone didn't seize on it for his movie.) I really wanted to see Nixon's reaction, but you only see what goes on up on stage. And the girl just keeps on singing like nothing happened.

clemenza, Monday, 6 May 2013 00:38 (five years ago) Permalink

two months pass...

Our Nixon is on CNN tomorrow night at 9:00.

clemenza, Wednesday, 31 July 2013 11:16 (five years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

For those of you that have seen it, how much knowledge about Nixon and Watergate does it assume on the part of the viewer? Considering showing it to an undergrad class, but am wondering how much context they would need.

Chantal Anchorman (admrl), Friday, 16 August 2013 20:43 (five years ago) Permalink

"It" meaning Our Nixon? I don't think it requires a whole lot of background knowledge, but it's home movies plus narration (and some present-day interview footage), so it's not the first place I'd go to learn about Watergate.

clemenza, Friday, 16 August 2013 21:14 (five years ago) Permalink

Thanks - it's a found footage filmmaking class, so I wouldn't be using the film to explain Watergate.

Chantal Anchorman (admrl), Friday, 16 August 2013 22:31 (five years ago) Permalink

It'd be good for that--then you can move onto Nixon & Found Audio.

clemenza, Saturday, 17 August 2013 00:04 (five years ago) Permalink

Court-Ordered Audio

Miss Arlington twirls for the Coal Heavers (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 17 August 2013 01:50 (five years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

Another trailer...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odTZDplswDg

Elvis Telecom, Tuesday, 10 September 2013 20:28 (five years ago) Permalink

oh i saw this, it's interesting. more for the tapes, which i've never gotten into listening to, than the footage, really, which it uses pretty strangely. if the time hasn't past i think it would make for a pretty interesting source text for a class, because of the diversity of what's used (inc a lot of video, tv footage, &c), & the purposes it puts it all to, which were pretty often almost ambient, imo, like illustrative rather than a focus.

@twitizensforlemonlipbalm (schlump), Tuesday, 10 September 2013 20:32 (five years ago) Permalink

yes, it would be great for a found-footage class.

(saw it yesterday in a theatre)

moves from a funny introduction by Nixon--no lie--to a fairly stunning moment that I don't recall ever reading about

sampled by The KLF in America No More!

(and some present-day interview footage)

the interviews are from 1979, 1982 and 2004 iirc - continuing the bricolage nature of the film.

The Raekwon "If" Singers (sic), Tuesday, 10 September 2013 21:14 (five years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

I'm a couple of hours into Washington Behind Closed Doors. Not what I thought, which that it would be exclusively about Watergate. It starts in '67 or '68, even before "Dick Monckton" wins the presidency. It's fun matching character to person--most are obvious, some less so (probably some composites in there). Jason Robards (wisely) makes no attempt to sound like Nixon, instead giving glimpses here and there; he snarls some vintage Nixon to end the first episode, which I won't quote here (telling you something about what was still acceptable on network TV in 1977). Has a lot of CIA-connected stuff that I didn't realize was such public knowledge so close to Nixon's presidency...It's based on one of Erlichman's books (not a whitewash; he was clearly in revenge mode), so maybe this had a hand in getting that out, or maybe the big Senate hearing on the CIA had already happened--not sure of the timeline. Cliff Robertson fairly wooden, Andy Griffith a decent (though not really remotely similar) LBJ, Stefanie Powers quite gorgeous.

clemenza, Saturday, 11 January 2014 14:29 (five years ago) Permalink

yes, the Church Senate hearings happened around '75 -- I watched WBCD when it aired in '77.

eclectic husbandry (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 11 January 2014 15:08 (five years ago) Permalink

That explains it then. So far, an unreasonably benign Kissinger ("Carl Tessler").

clemenza, Saturday, 11 January 2014 15:34 (five years ago) Permalink

also, not really a spoiler, but I believe the series ends with the start of Watergate. (Unless one takes the view that all the Plumbers shit is part of Watergate, which I think it is.)

Only scene that really sticks with me 37 years later is Robards doing the visiting-the-demonstrators incident.

eclectic husbandry (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 11 January 2014 16:01 (five years ago) Permalink

ne takes the view that all the Plumbers shit is part of Watergate, which I think it is

hack Beltway columnists (i.e. George Will two days ago) still concern troll over what "motivated" Nixon's men to try the Watergate burglary without connecting Watergate to Ellsburg, the Huston plan, Operation GEMSTONE, and so on.

the objections to Drake from non-REAL HIPHOP people (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 11 January 2014 18:01 (five years ago) Permalink

I just finished Nixon's Darkest Secrets, and the theory there is that Nixon was worried about how much Larry O'Brien knew about some of Nixon's dealings with Howard Hughes. Whatever the case, it's been pretty conclusively established that the break-in was the tip of a very long iceberg. Anyone who still wonders about motivation, or expresses a "But he had the election wrapped up..." puzzlement, hasn't looked into the matter very deeply (or, if Will's doing the same, is being very disingenuous).

clemenza, Saturday, 11 January 2014 18:09 (five years ago) Permalink

Finished this tonight. It’s close to artless--there was one nice shot of Andy Griffith/LBJ and Cliff Robertson/Richard Helms outdoors as the camera drew back at a critical moment--and it lurches along from storyline to storyline, with occasionally pointless detours (the entire marital situation of Robertson). But then there’d be a really strong scene and it’d pick up for a while. Robards is as valid as any other Nixon I’ve seen. He emphasizes some things (Nixon’s persecution complex), minimizes or bypasses others (the social clumsiness), adds little flourishes the whole way through (his bizarre clowning around on Air Force One seemed especially Nixon-like). Robert Vaughn’s Haldeman is so robotically sycophantic and callous, he’s funny--his ongoing exasperation with Nicholas Pryor (most annoying character in the whole thing, not sure who exactly he was supposed to be) is great. Two people I knew from Save the Tiger: Thayer David as Hoover, also Lara Parker. Matches up well with All the President’s Men, ending at exactly the moment where the earlier film begins. Meg Foster’s eyes are weird beyond compare. She looks like a glassy-eyed Stepford wife.

clemenza, Friday, 17 January 2014 03:41 (five years ago) Permalink

two months pass...

Looking through my VHSs, I found a copy of The Final Days. I bought when Sam the Record Man shut down their rental store--the sticker's still on there.

Very good, very odd. It aired in '89--not sure what prompted them at that particular moment to make a TV movie of a Nixon book that had been out for over a decade. I knew virtually nobody in the cast: Richard Kiley as Nixon's lawyer, David Ogden Stiers as Haig, and that was it. Lane Smith plays Nixon. I don't know that I've ever seen him in anything.

Smith's Nixon is the least histrionic, least mannered, most normal Nixon I've ever seen. You won't like it if you can't accept that a version of Nixon like that. (Two or three times he goes full Nixon, most notably when joking about his lawyer's reluctance to take a drink.) The film is mostly the familiar scenes of getting briefed by advisers, huddling in his office, weighing options, etc., but he rarely loses his temper and doesn't start ranting and spinning off wild schemes. It's all very slow and methodical, different from everything else I've seen. The direction seemed unusually good for an '80s TV film.

Most bizarre scene is where Brezhnev accepts the gift of a car from Nixon, then promptly takes him on a Bullitt-like joyride around Camp David.

clemenza, Thursday, 3 April 2014 00:52 (five years ago) Permalink

I saw it. That car scene is faithfully reproduced from the book.

Quite disappointed in Our Nixon. They played some good tapes (when RN realizes Ehrlichman might rat him out), but the rest was an unwieldy mix of the arbitrary and trivial. (schlump otm)

images of war violence and historical smoking (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 3 April 2014 01:00 (five years ago) Permalink

even better:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cbvq9KyOEc0

Bryan Fairy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 3 April 2014 01:01 (five years ago) Permalink

Worth it for Warren Burger musing aloud about the limits of pornography's redeeming social value: next thing you know those kids will have orgies and it'll be okay if they mention the Vietnam War!

Bryan Fairy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 3 April 2014 01:07 (five years ago) Permalink

five months pass...

I rewatched Dick this morning. The best line is still "They'll never lie to us again."

should've faded out w/ "You're So Vain" instead of Oval Office rollerdisco tho.

son of a lewd monk (Dr Morbius), Monday, 29 September 2014 21:31 (four years ago) Permalink

I played a kind of Nixon movie for my class today: a short clip from the first Nixon-Kennedy debate (Friday was the anniversary).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QazmVHAO0os

It's perfect for media studies. Play the part from 1:25-1:45, and--whatever your feelings about each guy--everything of legend is right there. Kennedy looks straight at the camera, appears confident and the picture of health (anything but, of course); shifty-eyed Nixon couldn't look more guilty. (His famous five-o'clock shadow isn't quite as bad as reputed, though--or maybe the clip is forgiving.) It's a great clip for talking about how one set of people, the radio audience, could have thought Nixon won the debate, while TV viewers reached the opposite conclusion. Everything people hate about politics in 20 seconds. Unless you believe that television is a godsend here, revealing the real Nixon in a way that radio can't.

clemenza, Monday, 29 September 2014 23:55 (four years ago) Permalink

four weeks pass...

haha this was made just for me wasn't it

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 28 October 2014 18:55 (four years ago) Permalink

sorry, just way too "cute" for a feature film, even w/ Shannon.

http://variety.com/2014/film/news/michael-shannon-kevin-spacey-elvis-and-nixon-1201349061/

things lose meaning over time (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 6 November 2014 15:53 (four years ago) Permalink

this sounds... unnecessary

Οὖτις, Thursday, 6 November 2014 16:08 (four years ago) Permalink

this was already a movie:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0122474/

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Thursday, 6 November 2014 17:51 (four years ago) Permalink

Elvis Presley: Well, gee, Mr. President, I kinda wish I had a tape of this meetin', so I could play it for muh wife and muh little daughter.
Richard M. Nixon: Tape-record meetings.
(suddenly intrigued)
Richard M. Nixon: Hmm...

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Thursday, 6 November 2014 17:52 (four years ago) Permalink

Spacey as Nixon sure to be insufferable.

things lose meaning over time (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 6 November 2014 18:14 (four years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

BAM here is showing the 33-minute Cockettes film Tricia's Wedding on Thursday! "The high jinks start when Eartha Kitt adds LSD to the punch bowl."

http://www.bam.org/film/2016/the-queen-and-tricias-wedding

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069407/fullcredits?ref_=tt_ov_st_sm

Sylvester (that one) plays Coretta Scott King.

we can be heroes just for about 3.6 seconds (Dr Morbius), Monday, 21 March 2016 15:35 (three years ago) Permalink

three months pass...

excellent poster and tagline! anyone seen this?

http://www.tivoliwimborne.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/elvis-and-nixon-poster.jpg

piscesx, Tuesday, 21 June 2016 15:18 (two years ago) Permalink

I missed the names at the top of the poster and read this to mean that Alex Pettier and Johnny Knoxville were playing Elvis and Nixon, which actually might have been interesting.

rhymes with "blondie blast" (cryptosicko), Tuesday, 21 June 2016 19:19 (two years ago) Permalink

*Pettyfer

rhymes with "blondie blast" (cryptosicko), Tuesday, 21 June 2016 19:19 (two years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

pic.twitter.com/yH1FsrCecm

— Richard M. Nixon (@dick_nixon) November 28, 2018

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 28 November 2018 22:23 (four months ago) Permalink

Amazing. I can't top that, but I like this picture a local rep theatre is using to promote the Roger Ailes documentary they're screening next week. That's kind of almost Nixon at the movies.

http://heardjustwhatiseen.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/ailes.jpg?w=450

clemenza, Thursday, 29 November 2018 20:48 (four months ago) Permalink

I wonder if Dick got to see it and then asked Julie why she loved a movie where he is referred to as "the Asshole"

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 29 November 2018 20:53 (four months ago) Permalink

Wouldn't be surprised if Nixon just heard about the film and is making up the Julie part of that letter. She was fiercely protective of her father--it's a real stretch to believe she liked the film (not sure I even believe she saw it).

I don't know who the Clinton-like guy on the left is in that Ailes picture.

clemenza, Thursday, 29 November 2018 20:58 (four months ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

Didn't much care for the Roger Ailes documentary. Not surprisingly, more of a Trump movie than a Nixon movie. It lost me right from the start: one of the very first interviewees is Glenn Beck, who is treated throughout (they go back to him a number of times) as serious and legitimate. Besides being a total fraud and a clown, I can't think of many people who were more disgusting during Obama's two terms.

clemenza, Thursday, 13 December 2018 23:52 (four months ago) Permalink

three months pass...

Nixon on the television...The CNN series starts tonight.

http://www.newsobserver.com/latest-news/qeucqa/picture227961029/alternates/LANDSCAPE_1140/trickydickCNN.jpg

There's so much out there already, you never know if it's going to be little more than a rehash, but the promos they've been running the past month have been really good.

clemenza, Sunday, 17 March 2019 15:15 (one month ago) Permalink

oooh. would watch.

my future think tank (stevie), Sunday, 17 March 2019 20:15 (one month ago) Permalink

One of my favorite books AND movies ever is All the President's Men (I love them about equally) so I was over the moon to find this documentary on YouTube and found it just amazing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xo7KWzOgnf8

The Colour of Spring (deethelurker), Sunday, 17 March 2019 20:54 (one month ago) Permalink

Also, if you were born after the fact and wanted to know how the "Saturday Night Massacre" played out on the news, this valuable upload from the Obscure Video channel is a must-watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBkUtvYlEH4

The Colour of Spring (deethelurker), Sunday, 17 March 2019 20:57 (one month ago) Permalink

I may have seen the first, can't remember, but definitely not the second--thanks.

clemenza, Monday, 18 March 2019 00:33 (one month ago) Permalink

Good start (although they kind of wrote Whittaker Chambers out of the story--you see him, but he's only referred to as a "former Communist"). To paraphrase Hannibal Lecter, loved the blue suit.

clemenza, Monday, 18 March 2019 02:04 (one month ago) Permalink

there's a three-part BBC documentary on watergate that you can find on youtube that's really excellent.

even though i've read and watched lots of stuff about nixon (did a report on him in eighth grade and have been fascinated ever since), the exact details of the watergate scandal are so convoluted that i still somehow find myself being surprised by a lot of the story every time i see/read something about it.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Monday, 18 March 2019 02:16 (one month ago) Permalink

It took a while, but I think I have a pretty good handle on Watergate by now; the various Trump scandals I find more impenetrable, but that's maybe a function of the world today, with the details scattered over a million internet pages, instead of one central narrative like All the President's Men. Maybe the Muller Report will end up serving the same function. Probably not.

clemenza, Monday, 18 March 2019 02:26 (one month ago) Permalink

I may have seen the first, can't remember, but definitely not the second--thanks.

You're welcome; the channel, which is actually named OBSOLETE Video (I keep getting that wrong even though I'm subscribed to it) is fantastic for watching Watergate-era news broadcasts recorded using early home TV recording technology. It's fascinating seeing news broadcasts dated from 1972 that seem very innocent and almost naïve compared to the news broadcasts from 1974. BTW, we don't see a narrative to current events because we're too busy living through them, but with the distance of time we'll be able to "have a pretty good handle on" what's going on right now with the corrupt orange bastard.

The Colour of Spring (deethelurker), Tuesday, 19 March 2019 18:41 (one month ago) Permalink

The Pentagon Papers has always been the Aleph to Watergate.

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 19 March 2019 19:11 (one month ago) Permalink

if the BBC documentary aired in the '90s and has interviews with most of the living players (including a flanneled Haldeman), then I've seen it and it's excellent.

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 19 March 2019 19:16 (one month ago) Permalink

Some elaboration on my blue-suit aside, the most interesting new thing I learned watching part 1. Everyone knows the standard story about the first Nixon-Kennedy debate: Nixon won post-debate polls among radio listeners but lost with TV viewers because he came across as shifty-eyed, had a bad case of five-o-clock shadow, and was sick with the flu besides. But Nixon (in voice-over) also suggested that his gray suit looked really terrible against the neutral backdrop, whereas Kennedy's dark suit stood out. Except his suit was gray only if you were watching in black-and-white; he had a rather youthful-looking powder-blue suit on, which actually looked kind of sporty next to Kennedy's dark-blue suit. The accompanying visual supported what seemed like a pretty astute reading, I thought.

(Yes, they also talked about the world during that debate.)

clemenza, Tuesday, 19 March 2019 22:13 (one month ago) Permalink

Keep in mind that in 1960 almost everyone was watching in black-and-white and didn’t see the youthful powder-blue suit; color TV had only been around for 6 years at that point

Lee626, Tuesday, 19 March 2019 23:01 (one month ago) Permalink

I think that's what he meant--that because virtually no one was watching in colour, that possible advantage evaporated. I've never seen any mention of the suit anywhere, and I've read a ton on Nixon, so that was really interesting to me. Having said that, there's the small possibility it would have taken more than a good-looking suit to make Nixon more photogenic than Kennedy...

clemenza, Tuesday, 19 March 2019 23:13 (one month ago) Permalink

I realized that right after I posted it (from a phone)

Lee626, Tuesday, 19 March 2019 23:18 (one month ago) Permalink

Also: Anyone who had a color TV in '60 was probably already leaning Nixon.

a large tuna called “Justice” (C. Grisso/McCain), Tuesday, 19 March 2019 23:22 (one month ago) Permalink

i watched the actual debate on youtube for the first time a couple years ago. in the context of 2016, i have to say that nixon's "bad" performance didn't register nearly as sharply as it once did. i feel like i've read countless descriptions of these debates that made them sound like the beginning of the reality-tv age, with an inexperienced candidate beating an experienced one due to his good looks and charm -- but if anything the debate seemed almost absurdly serious and issue-based compared to what we get these days. at one point i think they spend like 10 minutes talking about farm subsidies, or something like that. tbh, if i hadn't known who nixon was or the kind of president he would become, my response to the debate would probably have been to envy the voters of 1960 who got to choose between these two remarkably qualified and intelligent candidates.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Tuesday, 19 March 2019 23:34 (one month ago) Permalink

The CNN thing made the valid point that Nixon had to be mindful of his reputation--Hiss, Helen Gahagan Douglas--and downplay the already entrenched perception that he was ruthless. So his supporters thought he wasn't aggressive enough and came across as almost deferential to Kennedy (which he actually was anyway).

(xpost) True--but I bet Nixon would tell you that Kennedy's "Harvard boys" owned all the colour TVs. (Sure sign I've seen Oliver Stone's film too many times: I hear "Harvard boys" in Anthony Hopkins' voice.)

clemenza, Wednesday, 20 March 2019 00:27 (one month ago) Permalink

Part 2 tonight. Or at least I hope it doesn't get cancelled for an extra hour of nocollusionnocollusion talk.

clemenza, Sunday, 24 March 2019 21:08 (four weeks ago) Permalink

Which is exactly what they've done--not happy at all.

clemenza, Monday, 25 March 2019 01:09 (four weeks ago) Permalink

ha, I interrupted Animal Crackers to turn on CNN for the first time since December.

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 25 March 2019 01:23 (four weeks ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

The CNN series finished tonight. When Nixon resigned, his approval was 29%, the Supreme Court had just ruled against him 8-0, and his party was starting to line up against him. I've read a thousand variations on this story, but the distance from there to here is still astounding.

clemenza, Monday, 15 April 2019 02:22 (one week ago) Permalink

Was it good? I've been skeptical of CNN series after their decades ones. I did watch this 2018 Watergate documentary over the weekend, and found it fairly gripping. They had actors re-enacting the transcripts, which was a bit cheesy at first but often worked for me — it drove the point home a bit more to see "Nixon" ranting about "liberal Jews" or hush money as part of regular conversation rather than a tinny recording or words on paper. Wish it had touched a bit more on the public reaction to the transcripts, though; Perlstein's Invisible Bridge has a great bit on all the moral conservatives clutching their pearls on discovering Nixon's vulgarity. (IIRC, Nixon once scolded Truman for un-presidential language by using "damn" in a public statement.)

blatherskite, Monday, 15 April 2019 18:59 (one week ago) Permalink

I actually enjoy those decade shows...The Nixon series was 97% contemporaneous audio and video, which was great. I'd seen a lot of it already, but there was stuff I'd never seen or heard. Definitely caught Nixon at his worst: besides the racial epithets, you hear him saying that the opening of China was exactly the sort of thing that "the grey middle America" ate up because they were suckers. Definite allusions to Trump throughout, especially the ending.

clemenza, Monday, 15 April 2019 22:38 (one week ago) Permalink


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